I am Making a Period Piece. What is Protected by Copyright?

(Miceal O'Donnell) #1

Hello all. I have been attempting a google search to find the answer, but finding more conjecture than fact.

I am making an 80s web series, and was wondering what the law is. Can a kids room be plastered with period appropriate posters and toys, or would I be breaking copyright laws? Nothing would be playing directly into the plot. It would all be set dressing.

Thanks all!

(Bri Castellini) #2

@kmd and @ghettonerdgirl have made period pieces! Tagging them to weigh in.

(Kyla) #3

hello hello hello, fellow 80s webseries creator here, with a super unhelpful answer to your question! tbh in my opinion there’s no way some huge brand is gonna sue over a poster, and I’m fairly certain you can name drop brands/companies in webseries so as long as it isn’t slander, so I don’t see the difference between, for example, talking about star wars and having a star wars poster. so legally, I don’t know exactly what’s up, but I don’t think using 80s paraphernalia will screw you over so as long as you’re not pointing at it and saying “THIS IS THE WORST THING TO EVER EXIST AND ALSO IT POISONED ME”.

EDIT: there’s also this cool stareable post to check out

(Bri Castellini) #4


(Miceal O'Donnell) #5

Thanks for tagging Bri!!

(Miceal O'Donnell) #6

Thanks kmd! I went to the link you shared, and they were pretty clear/confident on verbal mentions, but unsure on pics. I would not be so worried if I were making the series out of pocket, but I received a grant to shoot this, so now I am suddenly more worried about spending all the cash, and then getting a cease and desist. Haha… simple answer is not to use the stuff, but it is so much better if with a (legitimate) dressed set. Thanks again!!

(Bri Castellini) #7

I will also say… incidentals aren’t illegal. There are plenty of logos in things all the time, incidentally, because they’re in the space. That’s not copyright infringement anymore than you being in a public place and getting captured on TV is invasion of privacy. I’ll look into it more for you. @hermdelica any thoughts?

(Herman Wang) #8

Well I only have more conjecture to offer, but I agree with Bri - anything that isn’t focused on in the story should be fine. Once you start talking about things it can get dicey.

For example, we had a line where we refer to “lousy coffee”, so we made up a fake coffee chain to avoid problems.

(Ghetto Nerd Girl) #9

I had a similar struggle with my web series. I used homemade set dressing to mimic whatever you want. For example, I love Sailor Moon and it’s very 90’s but I didn’t want to be blatant and put Sailor Moon memorabilia up. You can tell it’s Sailor Moon (handcut symbols) but since I made the set dressing myself I do not believe I’m infringing copyrights. This article also may be helpful to you:

(Miceal O'Donnell) #10

Nice work on the set! :slight_smile: Thanks for the feedback!!

(Miceal O'Donnell) #11

Nice (“lousy coffee.”) Haha! Thanks!!!