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)
Copyright ownership. (p. 260)
Copyright duration. (p. 268)
Copyright infringement. (p. 269)
What is the right of publicity? (p. 271)
First Amendment and the right of publicity. (p. 272)
Tests to determine infringement of the right of publicity. (p. 272)
• Violation of Privacy Rights (p. 273) Intrusion upon seclusion. (p. 273) Public disclosure of private facts. (p. 274) False light. (p. 274)
• Libel and Defamation (p. 276) Defamation defined. (p. 276) Public figures. (p. 278) Defenses to defamation. (p. 279)
Note: Trademark issues have been discussed in Trademarks on the Set. (See Trademarks on the Set, p. 192.)
a few words of caution
This section is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of intellectual property (IP) law. It is intended to highlight those areas of IP law most important to filmmakers. Copyright, trademark, rights of publicity, and idea protection laws will be examined from the viewpoint of how they impact the filmmaker's ability to make and protect his or her movie.
• Limited Scope. Those areas of IP law which don't directly apply to the filmmaking process, such as patent, trade secret, and trademark registration, will not be examined.
• Limited Jurisdiction. Only United States laws are discussed in this book. It is critical to keep in mind, especially when dealing with intellectual property, that the laws of other countries may differ significantly from those of the United States. Accordingly, a film that does not violate anybody's rights in America may violate somebody's rights in a foreign country! To help guard against this, make sure that your contracts are drafted to include the broadest possible grant of rights to the filmmaker.
• Before distributing a film outside the United States, it is good practice to have your film viewed and your agreements analyzed by an attorney familiar with international intellectual property laws.
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