Recently I finished a wedding DVD project for a family member who asked me to shoot some film on their BIG DAY a few years ago. I finally completed post production. I made my own logos. Sure! But I had to wonder “Who even OWNS the DVD format?”
Apparently nobody …and everybody.
The DVD format is free for everyone to use and make their desired vision come to life. There are a few hits and misses to keep in mind while steering clear of all those “misses.”
Unless..you got the money not to care either way. And of course missing the proverbial ball also matters mostly if the user is going “commercial.” Writing the letters “DVD” or the phrase “DVD-Video” itself is fair game for anybody. It gets costly when a creator wants to utilize the DVD logo. The HOOPS one has to jump through to get permission for this logo usage. There is a nondisclosure agreement, a fee for displaying the logo, a fee for what are called “DVD Specification Books,” a fee for additional books, a registration fee, etc. And if that isn’t daunting enough, the least of all these fees is about half-a-grand.
So much work for a fancy stamp of three letters. But how many DVD cases have you seen without that fancy stamp? All those creators, who use it, paid OUT THE NOSE for that.
RESPECT! OTP. All licenses and registrations pertaining to the trademark are managed by a collective host of companies; based in Japan go figures: Sony, Pioneer, Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Time Warner, Toshiba, Etc. Apparently, due to the VHS-Betamax fiasco, the collective powers that be decided many heads under the umbrella is better than one.
“Format Wars” Who Knew? I Didn’t.
Betamax. Baymax….Coincidence? Maybe?
Well, not about any prior 1995.
Looking back, I realize how my upbringing gave very little for me to consider about the rapidly advancing world around me. Well, much less my upbringing, and more of just… ME. Good ol’fashioned VHS tapes and double-sided cassette players were pretty common to me at the time. So of course, I never knew about 8-track players, the relevancy of vinyl records, nor about how the “floppy” disc I truly owned was actually Version 2.0.
So, naturally I was too small to realize that VHS wasn’t as universal as I thought. If I thought of VHS, I thought of Disney. How could I not? The mega-million-plus-dollar industry dished at least one out every year! I racked up a big enough collection after being gifted a whole DECADE’S-WORTH (courtesy of my parents). I thought “Gee. Doesn’t everybody have these?” Apparently not. I didn’t know Betamax recorders even EXISTED by then. Never saw one. Never owned one. I saw the fruits of Sony’s labor when I got my first PlayStation when I was four, but they lost the video battle. Long story short, during the mid-70’s, Sony lost their one leg-up in the format race when they not only revealed some designs to the rival Japanese Video Cassette (JVC), but then said rival was able to produce similar tapes with more recording hours and cheaper VHS machines. (Imagine the patenting wars going own now. YIKES.)
This all again shows me the fine line between patenting, trademarking, copyrighting and just straight-up infringing. I can’t even imagine the process needed to make a product similar enough to an As-seen-on-TV item without flat-out copying it. Then again, I wonder about the products out there that seem to have gotten away with doing just that. One of my sources mentioned the historical feud between Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla. Are these wars even WORTH all the stress? Then again I do own both a PC and a Mac…
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