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Patenting Cinematography


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#1 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 06:26 PM

should shots, angles, manipulations of camers/film/video/filters, etc. be protected in a legal sense? And I'm talking about the actual result of techniques, not the techniques themselves. Can we, as directors and cinematographers lay legal claim to individual shots that we feel no one else has accomplished or invented yet? I can see patenting a specific process using specific equipment - but the result of such a process?


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#2 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 06:42 PM

Would it be one shot specifically?

:The 360-degree-spin-around-a-person* while jumping?
:Backbend with whizzing bullets?
:Sync'd still cameras with wire-work?


Why isn't contributing to the 90's film ethos enough?

Perhaps the movie wasn't as sucessful as they'd hoped?






*technical jargon
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#3 Craig Knowles

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 07:02 PM

should shots, angles, manipulations of camers/film/video/filters, etc. be protected in a legal sense? And I'm talking about the actual result of techniques, not the techniques themselves. Can we, as directors and cinematographers lay legal claim to individual shots that we feel no one else has accomplished or invented yet? I can see patenting a specific process using specific equipment - but the result of such a process?
AJB


Why stop there? Why not patent the brushstroke? The cross-hatch? The stipple? The three-sentence paragraph? The noun followed by a verb? The story told to an audience of less than 1000 people using a podium and a microphone? A sentence ending in an exclamation point! ™

I can understand patenting content, but not form.
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#4 ryan_bennett

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 07:07 PM

The cool thing about filmmakers is not also making but the community. To patent something like that is against the community. Ya, you might think up a genius idea and someone could take it and make it crappy or make it into something amazing and just explode but hey, that's how things happen. Think about how the french new wave would be if they didn't use some material or made homages, you can think of a million things.
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#5 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 07:22 PM

I can understand patenting content, but not form.


Indeed. This came up as a result of discovering on another thread that the "matrix" effect ("timeslice", "flo-mo" etc.) has been patented. That the actual RESULT of the technique has been patented.

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#6 David Venhaus

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 07:58 PM

Well, according to the U.S. Patent Office, patents refer only to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof; Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

So, I'm pretty sure that it would not be legally possible to patent a result of a process, only the process itself.
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#7 Mitch Gross

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 08:40 PM

The physical process used to create the Matrix effect may be processed, but the resulting image cannot be. At most, someone could attempt to trademark or copyright it, but I suspect the attempt would be unsuccessful.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 19 March 2007 - 10:56 PM

The cool thing about filmmakers is not also making but the community. To patent something like that is against the community. Ya, you might think up a genius idea and someone could take it and make it crappy or make it into something amazing and just explode but hey, that's how things happen. Think about how the french new wave would be if they didn't use some material or made homages, you can think of a million things.


This forum has a built in clique, it's not as much of a community as you may think.
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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 12:03 AM

This forum has a built in clique, it's not as much of a community as you may think.


Not only does it have a community and some "cliques" it also has crazy people, town criers, village idiots, whatever you want to call them. . .

My biggest problem is that I can see what you write when I'm not logged in, and that in itself is a huge nuissance. I am going to go around and make sure every computer I ever use is going to automatically log me in here.
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#10 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 12:59 AM

They absolutely should not. No one knows if "I" my humble self, will ever achive anything original in the cinema medium that's cool enough where people would want to copy it and "play-it-out" so to speak.

But I would never attempt to restrict people from creating, as the next guy copying some 360 spin/jump/roll around kind of a thing may improve up on it..

I think attempting to patent orgignal camera moves, and filming styles is "silly" but very viable with the way WPO and countries who signed treates with the WPO act today.

I think politicians in general should not mess with anything creative. As they are politicians and buerocrats and don't understand creativity by default. But for some reason most of the civilized world hands them the burden of "determining" how creativity should be governed.

On the other side, it will give DP's stuff to do when not shooting.......

Litigation :-).

P.S. Patent filing is not cheap, about $5,000USD or more (as a base price)





While we're on the topic, I don't think "Shutter Removal" was patented. So by Inference, the first one through the door to their respective patent office to describe

"Removing Shutter from Motion Picture Camera" to achieve smearing effect on film, and have 2 still frames of the look of the effect is the winner.
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#11 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 01:04 AM

Indeed. This came up as a result of discovering on another thread that the "matrix" effect ("timeslice", "flo-mo" etc.) has been patented. That the actual RESULT of the technique has been patented.


The "technique" itself was patented, or simply the technology & software?

Even if it is pantented, there are various legal ways around it if you should choose to recreate ANYTHING that's been done in a film before.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 20 March 2007 - 01:04 AM.

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#12 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 01:27 AM

The "technique" itself was patented, or simply the technology & software?

Even if it is pantented, there are various legal ways around it if you should choose to recreate ANYTHING that's been done in a film before.


Jonathan if you have time ... Read this Website. Apparently they "OWN" your footage, the original USPTO Patent applies to a 10 lens camera. Their broader patent applies to anything that looks like the matrix effect.
They require that Broadcasters and Film Distributors acquire a license if their original footage looks like it could have been made by a knock-off camera.

http://www.timetrack...entionmain.html

There is a thread on this in the 35mm forum, which began in-occuosly by a gentleman offering a "knock-off" unit for rental in the European Union.

"we have also been issued patents on the process of producing virtual camera movement using any array of cameras - and we have been issued patents on the product of the process (i.e.: the actual media produced by the process)"

Where was everyone when the WPO Treaty was being Ratified in 1996?
Or the DMCA or the Like in EU being signed into law in 1998?

As I am certain the only thing that allows them to "expand" into your own work is that stuff, prior patents had a more narrow scope.

Oddly the broader scope was to ensure that DRM enabled video and audio recordings would not ever see an "alternative" player. As in Windows Media is encoded with DRM cannot be read by a device that is not licensed, therefore the "output" of the device is also protected under a patent. But look how these nice, broad laws allow someone to go nuts...


No-one serious is ever going to challenge this "content" patent..

1. An injunction would be obtained until the matter is heard, this means you film with the "infringing" footage will be tied up in courts for 2-4 years, while you'll see no return on the film.

2. When applying for E&O for broadcast or mass projection, you'll be forced to pay. Just like the documentary director who had a t.v. with simpsons in the background.

Edited by Dennis Kisilyov, 20 March 2007 - 01:20 AM.

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#13 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 01:38 AM

The physical process used to create the Matrix effect may be processed, but the resulting image cannot be. At most, someone could attempt to trademark or copyright it, but I suspect the attempt would be unsuccessful.



One would hope so, however patent law does seem somewhat flexible these days. If the genes which made up your liver (or lack of if your irish recently :angry: ) were patented would you still be able to use it? or would you start to get a bill for it's usage from Monsanto? Possibly with the admonition that you were required to have a proper metering system installed to comply with the proper billing specifications.

I do not think the most overused shot should be patented as a product in itself I feel that if I want to get 30 remoter triggerable slr's together on tripods and do something dumb I should be within my right to do so.

-Rob-
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#14 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 02:11 AM

I do not think the most overused shot should be patented as a product in itself I feel that if I want to get 30 remoter triggerable slr's together on tripods and do something dumb I should be within my right to do so.

-Rob-


Amen!
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#15 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 04:18 AM

I seem to remember the effect being done long before The Matrix though...of all things, I recall it being used in a Van Halen video circa 1998.

Just so you don't have to sit through the horrible song...here's a YouTube link, just scroll over to 3:10 minutes to see what I'm talking about. It's choppier, but the same principle. There are a few more after that one as well.



Don't know if "The Matrix" people already owned the patent, and possibly tested the effect out using this video...but it definitely precedes the film.
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#16 Jonathan Benny

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:57 AM

I seem to remember the effect being done long before The Matrix though...of all things, I recall it being used in a Van Halen video circa 1998.


It was used long before that. Visit http://timeslicefilm...ronology_f.html and click on the "complete" link below the timeline and you will see that starting with experimentation in 1981, through the 80s and the 90s the effect has been used in a number of BBC programs, music videos, etc.

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#17 Craig Knowles

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 09:42 AM

No-one serious is ever going to challenge this "content" patent..

1. An injunction would be obtained until the matter is heard, this means you film with the "infringing" footage will be tied up in courts for 2-4 years, while you'll see no return on the film.

2. When applying for E&O for broadcast or mass projection, you'll be forced to pay. Just like the documentary director who had a t.v. with simpsons in the background.


I ran into this issue when doing my Masters Thesis. I invented an algorithm to process and produce a 3D photomosaic -- that is, a photomosaic in which all the individual tiles are themselves videos -- and found that Rob Silvers, inventer of the 2D Photomosaic, had actually been granted a patent which covered not only the process of creating a 2D photomosaic, but any resultant works which exhibited the same "look and feel" of the photomosaic as well.

Essentially, he had been granted a patent for both form and content.

Runaway Technology, Inc. announced on November 28, 2000 the grant of US Patent 6,137,498, entitled 'Digital composition of a mosaic image.' Widely known as "Photomosaics®," the innovations claimed in the patent are the creation of Runaway Technology President and CEO Robert Silvers. A Photomosaic combines the art of photography with the science of image computing to produce original works of art. A Photomosaic works by arranging thousands of tiny photographs that when viewed from a distance, combine to form a single larger image. Photomosaics have been featured on the covers of Newsweek, Life and Playboy, touted on "Oprah," CNN and "Dateline," and have been fashioned into movie posters, puzzles and games.

"By being granted this patent in the United States and other countries, we can protect our proprietary innovations and continue to make unique artwork," Silvers said. "We intend to protect our rights vigilantly and will license rights to select companies."

US Patent 6,137,498

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#18 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 10:02 AM

Would it be reasonable to say that once a computer is involved the process becomes patentable because some type of proprietary software actually makes the invention "work"?

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If I "invent" a landing pad for stuntpeople that is made out of car tires, and it actually works, can I patent that if nobody already has? Or does the fact that the car tires already exist mean I can only get a partial patent? Taking something that already exists and coming up with a new application for that existing product, does that get the same type of patent as actually inventing a completely new product?

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The original manufacturer of the camera, aren't they being denied the right to sell as many of their cameras as possible because someone else has patented the use of more than one of their cameras at a time?

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What about the first time someone decided to film a special effects explosion with 5 cameras, wouldn't that be just as patentable?
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#19 Dennis Kisilyov

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 02:46 PM

Photomosaic is being thrown out as Obvious. One only needed to watch any stadium game on TV in the 1970-1980 to see how such displays are created using many people holding cards. In the UK his patent was recalled as being obvious and previously invented allready.

His original patent is on the software that maps small photos on top of big photos.
Sort of like ASCII art was back in usenet days.


Alessandro: Patenting computer operations is also very dangerous, and is of great debate in the EU/UK currently. Cuz tommorow somone can patent 2+2 operation, and you calculator program will not work. Or a disc write. Or your bios/boot sequence. (which IBM did a long time ago and we all see how far it got them).

Patents usually appy to original inventions, compression algorithms, physical things like toasters and grills.
Original designs like the pepsi bottle (the shape not the logo).

They should not cover "obvious and easily understood" ways of using existing technology. Including motion picture. Esp. in such broad scope as to prevent others from doign the same thing using the "method".
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#20 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 02:54 PM

Alessandro: Patenting computer operations is also very dangerous, and is of great debate in the EU/UK currently. Cuz tommorow somone can patent 2+2 operation, and you calculator program will not work. Or a disc write. Or your bios/boot sequence. (which IBM did a long time ago and we all see how far it got them).

Patents usually appy to original inventions, compression algorithms, physical things like toasters and grills. Original designs like the pepsi bottle (the shape not the logo).

They should not cover "obvious and easily understood" ways of using existing technology. Including motion picture. Esp. in such broad scope as to prevent others from doign the same thing using the "method".


Then I think the strongest case against is "The original manufacturer of the camera, aren't they being denied the right to sell as many of their cameras as possible because someone else has patented the use of more than one of their cameras at a time?"

I invent a camera, someone figures out how to use 10 of my CAMERAS to do an effect, therefore nobody else can purchase 10 of my cameras without their permission??? I lose camera sales as a result. Sure the "innovation" may make my camera more popular and lead to more sales, but if the right for others to actually purchase ten cameras is taken away unless they pay an additional fee, then I as the camera manufacturer am losing sales.
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