Intellectual Property must be avoided for video clips to be sold as stock
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How to avoid Intellectual Property when shooting video for stock

Intellectual property? What is intellectual property and how/why does it matter in videos for stock? These are top-of-mind issues that all videographers want to be well aware of when capturing footage destined for Adobe Stock.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Simply, IP is a brand on a product, a trademarked shape or logo or even the name of a company that appears in a video. The problem is that videographers do not own the IP. The company who uses it does. Take a look at this image. Are there any brands or trademarks in it?

Intellectual property (IP) is everywhere. How many logos or company names do you see in this photo? Did you find all 6? Photo: ©2018 Robert Vanelli
There are six instances of company names, logos and product names in this photo. Can you find them? Photo: ©2018 Robert Vanelli

Logos, product names and company branding

The most obvious is the ubiquitous “Drink Coca-Cola.” Not only is it a trademarked slogan, it contains the logo and name of the company. What others can you find? Intellectual property compliance is mandatory for a commercial stock license to have any value. Stock footage cannot have any recognizable brands or trademarks. When setting up a video shot, scan the scene carefully before shooting. Don’t just glance. Look! That means seeing what you are looking at. It is very easy to become complacent when scrutinizing a scene. When that happens, IP will sneak into the shot, ruining it for stock.

6 instances of intellectual property in the scene. Any one will make this scene a no-go for stock sales.
Did you find all six IP’s? Photo: ©2018 Robert Vanelli

IP issues are sneaky and everywhere. I’ll be honest. When I looked at this scene I missed the two lanterns with their bright red “Coleman” logos. The one that most miss is the “Seeburg Console” logo inside the dirty jukebox windows. In still photography, it’s really easy to remove intellectual property issues with the Clone Stamp tool or the Healing brush in Photoshop or the Spot Brush in Lightroom and Camera Raw. Video is not so easy. Imagine having to remove “Coleman” from every frame by hand!

The stairway to IP fire and brimstone

This photo is so full of IP issues it’s laughable. The Bulova clock, KC Baking Powder sign, US 95 sign (Yes, some highway markers are trademarked. Route 66 is probably the best known trademarked signpost,) the Forest Service Logo, the General Motors Truck fender plate, the Worthington embossed medallion and many more. Do you see the Volkswagen logo anywhere in the photo? Look closer. It’s there.

More IP. Do you see the Volkswagen logo?
The scene calls for a shot of a couple going up this staircase. From this angle, it’s an IP nightmare and a non-starter. Photo: ©2018 Robert Vanelli

Shoot from a different angle

The only solution for this scene of the couple ascending the stairs is to shoot down on them. All of the IP disappears while the rustic feel of the location remains.

Placing the camera at the top of the stairs looking down at the couple eliminates the intellectual property.
Photo: ©2018 Robert Vanelli

Move one of the subjects to eliminate IP

This video shows a very simple way of getting rid of IP. Watch the Coke bottle (Yes the bottle and the bottle’s shape and color are all trademarked) disappear as I have the lady model lean closer to her companion.

Model releases–Yes or No?

This is a possibly complex question with a very simple answer. If the people in the video, like the models in this post, are recognizable, a model release is a must. These models were hired for this stock project and they both signed model releases. People own the intellectual property rights to their image. What do you if the shot just screams “Shoot me for stock!” and the people can be identified. Go ahead and shoot the scene. Then ask the people in it to sign releases. If they aren’t willing…

Making people unrecognizable

The best way to make people in a video unable to be identified is to shoot them in deep silhouette. As long as there is no detail in their faces and their body shape is not distinctive (think of former President Obama’s ears) the scene will work for stock. Position the camera so the people in the scene are framed by the sky. Expose for the sky or a little over and, voilá, a usable stock scene ready for capture. Remember to get some action going on in the frame if at all possible.


Adobe Stock checks every video clip for IP compliance

Adobe has a team of compliance managers that review every video submitted for stock. They have no choice other than to reject a clip when they find intellectual property that doesn’t belong. This is probably one of the biggest causes of rejection of video clips. Take an extra thirty seconds to really see what is in the scene. Are logos recognizable in the background? Is the license plate on that car legible? Are the stripes on the model’s jacket one of Adidas’ trademarks? Is that a Nike “Swoosh” on the guy’s ball cap? Look again. There has to be a Coca-Cola logo somewhere in the scene. They’re everywhere.

No matter where you go, there is always a Coke logo.

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