Net Profits

In its most basic definition, net profits is the money which remains after the costs of making, marketing, advertising, financing, and distributing the film have been repaid. In other words, net profits are what are left over after everything else has been deducted. When people refer to points on the back end they are referring to a percentage of a film's net profits. No contract clause strikes as much terror into the hearts of profit participants as does the clause which lays out the...

Joint Authors and Joint Works joint work joint authors

Copyright law defines a joint work as a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole 17 USC 101. The authors of a joint work are, not surprisingly, called joint authors. When two or more authors work together to create a screenplay or film, copyright law may consider them to be joint authors. To be considered a joint author, each co-author must Contribute copyrightable elements to the joint...

Idea Rights Protecting Your Pitches And Avoiding Idea Theft

Without a doubt, a copyright is the best way to protect a screenplay from being stolen. However, a filmmaker may have only an idea for a film or television program a concept that has yet to be turned into a screenplay and copyright law does not protect ideas. In fact, even though they are valuable to the filmmaker, ideas can be very hard to protect legally the law starts with the presumption that ideas are free for anyone to use. Generally, for a filmmaker to protect an idea when he or she is...

Movie Studio Footage

Unlike stock footage houses, movie studios may not be as amenable to licensing clips of its films to independent producers. Furthermore, the studio may not have all the rights you need to license. For instance, if the film was based upon a preexisting literary property, such as a stage play, novel, or comic book, the studio may have only obtained the rights to exploit that literary property within that motion picture only. In other words, it may not have the right to license clips from that...

Hiring A Screenwriter

Often a writer will pitch an idea to a production company in the hopes that the production company will hire her to write the screenplay. See Idea Rights, p. 51. Or a filmmaker will have an idea or own the rights to literary property and need to hire a writer to turn that idea or property into a screenplay. See Literary Adaptations, p. 65. At the outset it is critical that the production company that hires the writer complies with all of the state and federal labor and employment laws. See...

Why You Need A Location Release

If you shoot on somebody's private property without his or her permission, you may expose your production to criminal penalties and civil liability for trespass, trespass to chattels, invasion of privacy, and nuisance.A location release is a contract between you and the property owner or other authorized party that gives you the right to enter that property and shoot your film. In addition to preventing lawsuits, a location release is also an enforceable contract which gives you a right to...

Copyright Recordation Assignments And Transfers

Any contract or other document that transfers copyright ownership may be recorded at the Copyright Office. In other words, you should record writing agreements, options, literary property purchase agreements, copyright assignments, and contracts containing copyright assignment or licenses clauses. In fact, the Copyright Office will record any document pertaining to a copyright. Recording a contract or other document pertaining to copyright ownership has several effects. It establishes a public...

Law Copyright Issues

The distributor may want to investigate your film's chain of title pretty thoroughly. Be prepared to supply the following All contracts pertaining to the film property. These include screenplay agreements, literary rights acquisition agreements, life rights consents, and assignments of all of the copyrights in and to the film property to the production company. See The Film Property, p. 14. All service contracts of creative personnel, especially performers, writers, directors, and musicians.The...

Music Licensing

Music licensing is one of the trickiest areas of entertainment law. For prerecorded songs the work of seeking permissions is doubled. This is because there are actually two kinds of copyrights to every piece of recorded music, and licenses need to be obtained from each copyright owner.You need to secure the permissions from The party who owns the copyright to the musical composition. The party who owns the rights to the recording of the composition that you plan to use. The two copyrights...

Avoiding Disaffirmance of a Minors Contract in California

Most states have laws that allow a person to get out of contracts that he or she made when they were a minor called disaffirming a contract . This can be extremely problematical for filmmakers who find that the contracts they have with their minor performers are no longer valid. In California, however, if an entertainment contract is approved by Superior Court, it cannot be disaffirmed.25 Any party can seek court approval, and the approval extends to the whole contract and all of its terms and...

Crew Services Agreement

In contrast to the above-the-line contracts, below-the-line contracts tend not to be as heavily negotiated. Accordingly, many production companies tend to work with deal memos rather than long form contracts when hiring crew members. This approach has the advantage of simplicity a fill-in-the-blank approach favored by time-strapped producers. The downside is that many deals are not as one size fits all as producers would like to believe. For instance, a cinematographer who is hired on the...

Permits Required to Employ a Minor in California

In California, a producer who wants to hire a minor to act in a film must first obtain from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement a Permit to Employ Minors in the Entertainment Industry PEMEI or file an Application for Permission to Employ Minors in the Entertainment Industry DLSE form 281 and be granted one.You can find the form at http www.dir.ca. gov dlse DLSEForm281.pdf. The parent or guardian must apply for an Entertainment Work Permit DLSE form 275 EWP by completing an Application...

Step By Step Copyright Searches and Permissions

At some point in the filmmaking process you will need to get permission to use somebody else's copyrighted work in your film. Unfortunately, finding a copyright owner can often be tricky. Here are some tips to help you locate a copyright owner and seek permission to use their work 1. Get basic information about the work To begin, you will need to get some fundamental information about the work itself The year of publication. If this is a book, this information will be found as part of the...

Screenplay Clearance Report

Prior to production, you should have your entertainment attorney prepare a screenplay clearance report. Essentially, this report details potential legal problem areas in the screenplay. The report should combine the efforts of a copyright records search to identify conflicting copyright ownership and infringement issues, and a compre- hensive legal analysis to identify other intellectual property, defamation, and liability The report should alert you to the following legal issues, if present...

Trademarks On The

When most people think of a trademark, they think of logos for products Coke , Nike , McDonalds or services Club Med , SuperCuts , Amazon.com .This is fairly accurate, as trademarks and service marks are used 1 to identify and distinguish a trademark owner's goods and services from those sold by others and 2 to identify for consumers the source of those goods and services. Trademarks are found on product labels, billboards, and clothing insignias. But trademarks can also be sounds, like the NBC...

Major Deal Points Producers Services Agreement

The Producer's Services Agreement is used to hire a Producer.With slight modifications it can be used for line producers, producers, and executive producers. Most of the agreements in this book are written from the producer production company's point of view.The deal points for the following Producer's Services Agreement are given from the point of view of a production company wanting to hire a producer. Production Company. The production company will want to hire a producer while still...

The Producers Services Agreement

This book assumes most people reading it will be the executive producers for their own independent films. However, there are different kinds of producers on a film some of whom you may need to hire. An Executive Producer is at the top of the food chain. He or she is usually in charge of finding financing for the picture and making the top-level management decisions, such as which director or lead actor to hire. The executive producer often ends up with an ownership position in the film...

De Minimis Taking

De minimis is a fancy Latin phrase which means of the least, or of trifles. It refers to the taking of an insignificant amount of the copyrighted work, so trifling that a court will rule that no harm is done even though what was taken was taken, without permission. Although this is a defense to infringement, rather than an exception to copyrightability, it does underscore the fact that courts will rule that some infringement is just too harmless to worry about. Example Several years ago, a...

Major Deal Points Music Licensing Agreement

Production Company.The work of the production company is doubled and it may need to negotiate and execute two separate license agreements from two or more parties. Make sure you are asking the correct party for the correct license. Music Publisher. You will always need to secure the license to use the musical composition from the publisher. In one contract from the publisher, obtain the following licenses synchronization, performance, and videogram licenses. Record Company. If you need to use...

Loanout Companies

Loan-out companies are often used by actors and above-the-line crew members. A loan-out company is a company formed for the sole purpose of providing the services of an artist to a production company. Loan-out companies are typically either LLC or subchapter S. Corps. When a production company is hiring an artist who has his or her own loan-out company, the production company is actually hiring the loan-out company, which in turn is providing the services of the artist. Any contract with that...

What Are Life Story Rights

Actually, the term life story rights is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, what you will be acquiring is a collection of rights and releases from liability. Typically, a Life Rights Consent Agreement grants to the filmmaker the following rights The right to portray a particular person's life in whole or in part. The right to fictionalize or modify that person's life story. The right and sometimes the obligation to use pseudonyms for people and places portrayed in the life story. The copyright to...

The Copyright License Request Letter

From literary characters to stock footage to musical recordings, some form of copyright license will be used in virtually every stage of the production's legal housekeeping. The license and the request letter are the transactional workhorses of the production attorney. The two are often combined into one form a letter of agreement that Asks the owner's permission to use the copyrighted material. Offers the owner licensing terms for the requested material's use. To accept the terms, the rights...

Major Deal Points Distribution Agreement

The distribution agreement is the contract governing the relationship between the distributor, who exploits the film, and the production company, which created the film. Production Company. The production company is seeking a distributor with the ability to license the film effectively in certain territories. All distributors have their strengths and weaknesses for instance, many distributors are better at exploiting domestic rights than international rights. It may be in a producer's best...

Separation of Rights

Writers who are members of the WGA have special rights called separated rights. Separated rights are additional rights granted to WGA members who create original works under the WGA MBA. If a writer creates an original screenplay, or contributes a substantially new story to pre-existing material that has been assigned to him or her, the writer may be entitled to a separation of rights. These rights, which stem from copyright, would not automatically flow to the writer for hire in the absence of...

Getting Permission To Use A Location

A shooting permit is permission from the city or municipality to shoot on public or private property within that jurisdiction. Many filmmakers believe that they only need to worry about shooting permits if they are filming on public property, such as streets or parks. In actuality, some jurisdictions require filmmakers to secure permits and pay filing fees even if they plan only to shoot on private property within the municipality The key is to check with the city clerk's office in the city or...

How To Get A Script To A Sag Actor

The best way to locate a particular SAG actor is through his or her agent. If an actor is represented by an agent, pitch the project first to the agent and never talk business directly with the actor. Agents are very protective of their actors. Nothing gets under an agent's skin more than feeling like a production company is going behind his or her back and negotiating directly with the performer. But how do you find out which actor is represented by which agent If you're working with a casting...

Right of First Negotiation

Whoever holds the right of first negotiation is saying, You have to deal with me first For instance, if the owner of a copyright wants to sell or license that copyright, this clause requires the copyright owner to first negotiate the sale of the copyright with the party who holds the right of first negotiation. If after good faith negotiation the parties can't reach an agreement, or if the holder of the right of first negotiation doesn't want to buy the copyright, then the copyright owner is...

Ultra Low Budget Sag Wardrobe Allowance

Most independent producers do not have much money therefore the most important thing a low-budget producer can offer a professional actor is a great role, in a great script, in a great movie that will receive distribution. Other ways that you can entice an actor to be in your film without breaking your bank include Offering him a higher salary, but making most of it deferred compensation. Offering him an associate producer credit. Offering those perks and amenities you may...

Certificate Of Authorship

A Certificate of Authorship is a key document in the chain of title of a motion picture. This is a notarized statement by the writer identifying the author of the script. In the case of a work made for hire, the script's author is considered to be the production company. A certificate should be executed by all of the script's authors. I, writer's name certify that I have written the attached screenplay as a work made for hire for production company's name , pursuant to that writer's services...

No Injunction

An injunction is a court order commanding something to be done or preventing something from being done. For instance, a court could issue an injunction halting distribution of your movie, or order that a copyright registration be amended to include another author. To obtain an injunction, the person seeking an injunction must show that money alone will not compensate the injury and that irreparable injury will result unless the injunction is granted. In a film contract, a no injunction clause...

Nondisclosure Agreements And Submission Releases

If possible, the filmmaker should try to have the production company sign a Nondisclosure Agreement NDA . This is a contract in which the production company will agree that The idea is unique and valuable. The idea is the filmmaker's proprietary information. The production company will keep this idea confidential. The production company will not exploit the idea without permission. If the production company does exploit the idea, the filmmaker will be compensated. A filmmaker generally does not...

Right of Last Refusal

In a way, the right of last refusal clause is like a bookend to the right of first negotiation see previous . Effectively, the right of last refusal gives one party the last bite at the apple. Like the right of first negotiation, this clause comes into play when the owner of copyright or any other rights wants to sell or license those rights. After the copyright owner has negotiated a deal for the sale or license of the copyright the owner must first offer those same deal terms to the person...

Filmmakers Guide To Intellectual Property

This section will provide you with a general background on those areas of intellectual property law that most impact the filmmaking process. Here you will find resources to help your understanding of the following Copyright law p. 249 What is a copyright p. 249 Copyright rights. p. 250 Copyright terminology. p. 250 What is not protectable under U.S. copyright law p. 253 Right of Publicity p. 271 What is the right of publicity p. 271 First Amendment and the right of publicity. p. 272 Tests to...

Major Deal Points Location Agreement Parties

The production company wants to be able to shoot unhindered in a particular location. It will need time to load in and set up equipment, the right and the time for the art directors to change the location, and time to remove equipment and to restore the property to its original state. Grantor. The person or company granting the rights in the location release is called the grantor. It is usually the property or business owner. Make sure to get the full legal name of the...

The Screen Actors Guild

Hands down, the thing that is most likely to get your film sold is having a known actor or actress as your lead. Your brother your film's major investor may be a wonderful actor, but unless he has had a recurring role in a television series or at least a supporting role in a feature film, he will not help you sell your movie. Sure there are exceptions to this rule for instance, the three lead actors in the movie The Blair Witch Project did not have substantial television and film credits prior...