Posted: March 27, 2010 in Joe Giambrone
Tags: , , , , ,

Youtube version has been truncated.

“Logorama is a work of art and a parody.
Best regards,”
-Elsa Chevallier

The legal questions behind an Oscar winning Short


This brilliant look at the world from an “over-marketed” perspective just won the Academy Award for animated short, 2009. In Logorama, nearly everything is constructed from corporate brand images, much as the real world is steadily evolving toward.

I found the full 16 minute film on Vimeo — but have since learned that may be unauthorized by the filmmakers — who themselves may have an “unauthorized” sword of Damacles hanging over their own heads for incorporating hundreds of trademarked images, characters, words and phrases.

The lesson seems to be: If you’re going to do it, go massive.

Filmmakers are usually terrified of the long arms of corporate attorneys, the deep pockets of global juggernauts, the thought of “disparaging” some unlimited legal machine (as in the McLibel case).

So I asked the Logorama team some of the relevant questions about how they managed to get away with using nearly every corporate logo ever created in their piece. They not only got away with it, but were handed an Oscar for their efforts. Should this help independent filmmakers who go up against corporate claims of infringement in the future?

(Probably not.)

Herve De Crecy of “H5” responded to my questions.

Can you explain how you were able to use all these trademarks (and) characters without being stopped by lawyers?

Herve De Crecy: The key thing is we didn’t ask permission to anyone. We would have been refused for literally every demand. The best example is the mail we received from the director of public relations and marketing of the Los Angeles zoo, Jason Jacobs: “Quite honestly, if you had originally told us what this project was about and asked for our logo, we most likely would have said no. However, I really liked how you incorporated the messages of how Zoos help animals and also the green giant tells the children to treat animals with respect.

Is there a legal opinion related to US Copyright law that you had issued?

Herve De Crecy: Our lawyer, Arnaud Kriger-Metzger, based all his work for the contracts on the french law. But the film could be considered as illegal in France as in the US.

Is this considered Fair Use?

Herve De Crecy: We would say it’s a right of parody.

Do you consider the film parody, or satire, or both?

Herve De Crecy: Logorama is not a pamphlet. Of course it is a satire but not only. It’s also a tribute to the creators of all the brilliant logotypes that we used as the architecture of the film.

Do you have any advice on how other filmmakers can incorporate corporate imagery into their work, and get away with it?

Herve De Crecy: I have no advice, I’ve been working on these bloody logos for too long, I don’t want to deal with that again. I leave the others deal with it now…

I saw the film for free on Vimeo. There is also a version on Youtube. Is this authorized by the filmmakers?

Herve De Crecy: No. Before the oscars we tried to stop the diffusion for 2 reasons: first, because of the risk to be sued, and then because of the poor quality of the compressed files on youtube. And also because I don’t understand why youtube would be the only platform to make money with a film they didn’t produce, when the directors and producers invested a lot with nothing in return.

I would like to incorporate your answers into an article for my blog, The Political Film Blog. Thank you very much for your assistance.

Herve De Crecy: you’re the most welcome


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