Thursday, October 28, 2010

Using Band Member Photos in a Documentary

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Dear Rich: I am currently making a documentary (in post-production) and there are references to some singers in bands. I would like to show images and/or video (5-10 seconds) of these people, is this allowed? The people in question include Denny Yost of the group Classics IV, Tommy James of the group Tommy James and the Shondells, as well as Dick Clark and the show American Bandstand. Also the person the documentary is about had a band in the 60's and they made some records and played with the likes of the above mentioned, so the other three guys in the band are not in the documentary but I'm showing band pictures from back then and those guys are seen as well as mentioned and talked about (not in a bad way). Is this allowed too?
Wow, we love/loved Tommy James. So many great songs to choose from and what a weird career -- his first hit, Hanky Panky, was a success a year after his band broke up (and was one of rock's oddest bootleg hits.) Now, we're wasting too much time watching their greatest hits -- I Think We're Alone Now (and remember the TIffany cover?),  Crimson and Clover (remember the Joan Jett cover), and Crystal Blue Persuasion.  
RIght you had a question. The short answers to your questions are: (1) Yes, assuming you have copyright permission to reproduce the photos or film clips, you're not violating Denny's, Tommy's, or Dick's right of publicity; and (2) showing pictures and talking about band members in a documentary won't violate anyone's rights either ... unless of course, someone says something defamatory (untrue and damaging) orinvades someone's privacy (unlikely for rock and rollers). We'd give you the long answers to these questions but we're too busy listening to samples from the Tommy James autobiography