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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
LAPD fights TV shows
LAPD
The LAPD is often the topic of TV shows
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), a popular subject for TV drama, is threatening legal action against two new police shows.

The LAPD is aiming to protect its image by refusing to allow programmes to use its badges, logos or name without permission.


We expect to be treated just like the Gap, Starbucks and Coca-Cola

LA spokeswoman
The first shows to be affected by the new rules are the CBS series Robbery, Homicide Division and NBC's Boomtown.

The local government has ruled both must pay licensing fees for rights to use the identity of the LAPD, which it believes "belong to the residents and taxpayers of LA".

"We expect to be treated just like the Gap, Starbucks and Coca-Cola," said Ana Garcia, spokeswoman for the city attorney's office.

"Hollywood is the one industry that should be extra sensitive to the issue of intellectual property."

Dragnet

The LAPD badge and logo have been protected trademarks since 1999, a rule introduced by mayor James Hahn, then the city attorney.

His successor, Rocky Delgadillo, is also keen to push the issue and protect the image of the police force.

There are many high-profile police dramas set in LA that could now be affected if copyright is enforced.

Dick Wolf, producer of New York-based Law & Order, is fearful he will run into problems with his planned remake of Dragnet.

The original series was based on detective Joe Friday solving cases drawn from the actual files of the LAPD.

But as the LAPD now sees itself as a brand, it could be far more difficult to recreate.

But he says has the utmost respect and gratitude for the New York Police Department which has helped him during filming.

Backfire

"The NYPD has been nothing but supportive and helpful in 15 consecutive years of filming on the streets of New York," said Mr Wolf.

Barbie dolls
Barbie: Mattel lost case against pop song "parody"
NBC's executive vice president Marc Graboff says the move could backfire on the LAPD because producers will stay clear of filming in LA in the future.

He said Boomtown "will not be portraying the actual LAPD shield or logo in the series, which is within accepted industry and legal guidelines."

Ms Garcia said the Emmy-nominated show The Shield was staying in town - although it had agreed to change its name.

The show had originally been called Rampart - but that was the name of a real police station at the centre of a police corruption scandal.

"The point is they didn't leave town, they're shooting, they're successful and they're up for an Emmy. And we're glad that they're here," Ms Garcia said.

Free speech

The Shield's FX channel said it only changed the show's name as it would have been too obscure for non-LA residents.

Legal experts are querying what right the LAPD could have to prevent TV shows being made about it.

Entertainment lawyer Matthew Falley cites the recent ruling over the use of Barbie in a pop song by Aqua.

Doll makers Mattel had tried to sue the record company, saying it sullied the image of Barbie.

But an appeals court ruled the song Barbie Girl was a parody and therefore protected under the constitutional right of free speech.

"You're probably within your rights to make a television show about the LAPD or people in the LAPD without infringing," said Mr Falley.

"There's a closer question of using the badge or the shield."

See also:

25 Jul 02 | Americas
25 Aug 00 | Americas
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