Help Me Figure Out the Legality of Having Beer Labels in a Bar Advertisement
August 12, 2009 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Do print ads for bars/restaurants have to blur the labels on the beers they carry in pictures? Our bar is putting out an ad in a magazine and the picture we're planning on using has a lot of the beers we carry in it. Do we have to censor the labels of beers we carry at our bar for the print ad for any reason?

I know it seems like a silly question, but I'm genuinely clueless. Copyright, the magazine taking issue with free advertisement for the beers, etc? I'm not turning up many helpful things in my errant Google searches. Thanks hive-mind.
posted by rmrudy to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Some people who could answer this question better than AskMe:

1. The magazine
2. Your beer distributor
3. The companies that own the logos that you'd be using
4. A lawyer
posted by toomuchpete at 11:33 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I see bar ads in the local papers all the time with exposed labels, some of them even prominently display the logos for all the beers they carry. Check with your distributor, I bet they're thrilled for the free advertising.
posted by Oktober at 12:03 PM on August 12, 2009

Distributors might even chip in if you call them about your planned ads and are willing to only feature their products.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:06 PM on August 12, 2009

When you see product logos blurred on television, I don't think it has anything to do with copyright. It's that the television network may sell (or want to sell) advertising to a competitor of the company whose brand appears incidentally in the show. I doubt it would be a big issue in print ads, and it's not your responsibility in any case. However, IANAL.
posted by paulg at 12:17 PM on August 12, 2009

It's often not even to protect a competitor, so much as a blanket policy against giving away any free advertising. So long as your advertising doesn't create confusion that you are sponsored by one of the companies.....
posted by nomisxid at 12:24 PM on August 12, 2009

Ditto what Pollomacho said. It's called "co-op advertising."
posted by Atom12 at 12:25 PM on August 12, 2009

Is it common for this blurring to occur in local publications in your area? If so, it could be some archaic local law. For the longest time, Steak & Ale restaurants in my area were called Jolly Ox because the word "Ale" couldn't appear on signage. The quickest way to determine is almost certainly to ask the publication.
posted by Carbolic at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2009

You may also need to research laws restricting alcohol advertising in your jurisdiction. If the label is prominent, your ad may qualify as an ad for the beer, which would subject it to any laws in your state/locality that cover ads for alcoholic beverages.

In other words, lawyer up.
posted by decathecting at 1:28 PM on August 12, 2009

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