O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers

Book Description

* You have an idea you want to pitch to a production company; how do you safeguard your concept?
* There's a painting in the background of your independent film; is it necessary to clear the rights?
* The screenplay you and a friend wrote gets optioned; how do you split the proceeds fairly?
* How do you get a script to popular Hollywood actors or deal with their agents?
Find quick answers to these and hundreds of other questions in The Pocket Lawyer for Film and Video, the next best thing to having an entertainment attorney at your beck and call. Written by a TV-producer-turned-entertainment-lawyer, this no-nonsense reference provides fast answers in plain English: no law degree required! The Pocket Lawyer is designed to help producers reduce legal costs by providing the vital information needed to make informed decisions on the legal aspects of film, video, and TV productions.

Film and video production is a litigation lighting rod: actors get hurt, copyrights are infringed, and contracts are broken. Big-budget producers have lawyers on retainer, but many independent filmmakers are left legally exposed. Arm yourself with the practical advice in this book. You will not only avoid common pitfalls, but become empowered in your daily work. Too many otherwise competent producers turn over every aspect of the deal negotiations to their lawyers and agents. This book explains the principal deals common to every production, putting producers back in the co-pilot seat with their representatives.

The format is carefully designed for quick reference, so you get the answers you need, fast. Features include:
* Clause Companion: explains the meaning and impact of typical contract clauses, taking the headache out of reading them.
* F.A.Qs: instantly answers the most commonly asked legal questions.
* Warnings: alerts you to critical areas and common mistakes.
* Pro-Tips: advice on unions, escrow accounts, etc. for producers who want to distribute their video widely.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Halftitle
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Disclaimer
  7. Dedication
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. About the Author
  10. Part I. Overview of the Pocket Lawyer
    1. Introduction
      1. Filmmaker FAQs
  11. Part II. Legal Building Blocks: Contract and Intellectual Property
    1. 1. Copyright and Intellectual Property
      1. What Is a Copyright?
      2. Exclusive Rights Under Copyright
      3. The Film Property
    2. 2. Issues in Film Contracting
      1. Deal Points
      2. Who Are the Parties?
      3. What Are You Getting?
      4. What Are You Giving in Exchange for What You’re Getting?
      5. What Rights Do You Have or Are You Giving Up?
      6. What Promises Are Being Made?
      7. What Protections Do You Have?
      8. What Rules Govern the Business Relationship Between the Parties?
      9. What Happens When Something Goes Wrong?
  12. Part III. The Production Company
    1. Filmmaking Is a Business
    2. 3. Setting Up the Production Company
      1. Business Concepts
      2. Types of Business Entities
      3. Loan-Out Companies
    3. 4. Your Professional Team
      1. Attorneys
      2. Accountants
      3. Insurance
    4. 5. Financing Your Movie
      1. Pay for the Film Out of Pocket
      2. Debt
      3. Equity
      4. Investors and Securities Laws
      5. Step by Step: Securities Compliance
  13. Part IV. Development
    1. Creating, Acquiring, and Managing the Film Property
    2. 6. Idea Rights: (Protecting Your Pitches and Avoiding Idea “Theft”)
      1. Nondisclosure Agreements and Submission Releases
      2. Goals and Deals
      3. Deal Points: Submission Release
      4. Deal Points: Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
      5. Law: Protecting Ideas and the “Novelty” Requirement
      6. Business Issues: Finances and Costs
      7. Negotiation Tips and Tricks
      8. Step by Step: Protecting an Idea
      9. Follow-Up
    3. 7. Creating a Screenplay
      1. Writing the Screenplay by Yourself (Sole Authorship)
      2. Writing Collaboration (Writing Partners and Joint Authorship)
      3. Deal Points
      4. The Writers Guild of America (WGA)
    4. 8. Acquiring Screenplay Rights
      1. Buying Rights
      2. The Screenplay Option/Purchase
      3. Major Deal Points: The Option Agreement
      4. Major Deal Points: The Purchase Agreement
      5. Hiring a Screenwriter
      6. Major Deal Points: Writer’s Services Agreement
      7. Screenplay Adaptations
      8. Major Deal Points: The Literary Property Acquisition Agreement
      9. Life Story Rights
      10. Major Deal Points: Life Rights Consent and Release
    5. 9. Chain of Title: The Care and Feeding of Your Copyright
      1. What is a Chain of Title?
      2. Copyright Searches and Permissions
      3. Copyright Registration
      4. ©—The Copyright Notice
      5. Copyright Recordation, Assignments, and Transfers
      6. Certificate of Authorship
  14. Part V. Pre-Production
    1. 10. Hiring Cast and Crew—A Lot of Law to Worry About
      1. Federal and State Labor and Employment Laws – An Overview
      2. Unions
      3. Service Agreements
      4. Checklist: Elements of a Service Agreement
    2. 11. The Producer’s Services Agreement
      1. Major Deal Points: Producer’s Services Agreement
    3. 12. The Director’s Service Agreements
      1. Major Deal Points: Director’s Services Agreement
    4. 13. Crew Services Agreement
      1. Major Deal Points: Crew’s Services Agreement
    5. 14. Performers
      1. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
      2. The Performer’s Services Agreement
      3. Major Deal Points: Actor’s Services Agreement
      4. How to Get a Script to a SAG Actor
  15. Part VI. Production
    1. Quiet on the Set!
    2. 15. Extras and Depiction Releases
      1. Depiction Releases
      2. Caution – No Fraud or Misrepresentations Allowed!
    3. 16. Locations
      1. Why You Need a Location Release
      2. Getting Permission to Use a Location
      3. Major Deal Points: Location Agreement
    4. 17. What’s on the Set?
      1. On-Set IP Infringement
      2. Copyrights on the Set
      3. Major Deal Points: Artwork License
      4. Trademarks on the Set
      5. E&O and Other Contractual Obligations
  16. Part VII. Post-Production
    1. It’s in the Can
    2. 18. Post-Production Staff
      1. Hiring Post-Production Artists and Technicians Directly
      2. Artists and Technicians Provided by Post-Production Facilities
    3. 19. Music
      1. Music Licensing
      2. Major Deal Points: Music Licensing Agreement
      3. Stock and Royalty-Free Music
      4. Commissioned Music
      5. Major Deal Points: Composer’s Services Agreement
    4. 20. Film Clips and Stock Footage
      1. Stock Footage Company
      2. Movie Studio Footage
      3. Major Deal Points: The Film Clip License Agreement
      4. The National Archives
    5. 21. Credits & Copyright Notice
      1. Copyright Notice and Disclaimer
  17. Part VIII. Distribution
    1. 22. Selling Your Film
      1. What Distributors Do
      2. Types of Distribution Deals
      3. The Money Pipeline
      4. How Does the Money Get from a Movie Theater to the Producer Via a Net Distribution Deal?
      5. Distribution Rights Acquisition Agreement
      6. Major Deal Points: Distribution Agreement
      7. Tips for Attracting a Distributor
  18. IX. Conclusion, Law Library Appendices A–D
    1. The Law Library
    2. Appendix A: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Intellectual Property Law
      1. 1. Copyright Law
      2. 2. Right of Publicity
      3. 3. Violation of Privacy Rights
      4. 4. Libel and Defamation
      5. 5. Moral Rights
    3. Appendix B: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Contract Law
      1. 1. Contract Law: An Overview
    4. Appendix C: The Clause Companion
    5. Appendix D: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Labor and Employment Law
      1. 1. Employee or Independent Contractor?
      2. 2. Employee Responsibilities
      3. 3. Child Labor Laws: California and New York
  19. Bibliography and Resources
  20. Notes
  21. Index