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Legal Issues for Documentary Filmmaking


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Legal Issues for Documentary Filmmaking

  1. 1. Research and Writing the Documentary:Overview of Legal Issues<br />Theodore K. ChengPartner<br />YOON & KIM LLP<br /><br /><br />(917) 459-3669 (cell)<br />(212) 584-0058 (work)<br />
  2. 2. Main Topics To Be Covered<br />General background on copyright law<br />work-for-hire/deal memo<br />fair use<br />Rights clearance<br />clearance culture<br />importance of due diligence efforts<br />Releases<br />Rights of privacy and publicity<br />
  3. 3. Only Expression Can Be Copyrighted<br />Books <br />Plays <br />Comic books<br />Songs<br />Musical compositions <br />Music recordings<br />Jewelry<br />Computer programs<br />Maps (only newly created elements, not locations)<br />Movies, films<br />Photographs<br />Quilts<br />Choreography<br />Paintings<br />Drawings<br />Sculptures<br />Fabric designs (but not the clothes)<br />Architectural drawings (but not the buildings)<br />Scripts, treatments for scripts<br />
  4. 4. Rights Granted Under Copyright Law<br />Reproduction<br />Derivative works<br />Distribution<br />Public performance<br />Public display<br />Digital audio transmission of a sound recording<br />
  5. 5. Fair Use Doctrine<br />the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes<br />the nature of the copyrighted work <br />the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole <br />the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work <br />
  6. 6. Rights Clearance<br />Costs are high and have increased dramatically<br />Insurers, distributors, etc. demand/expect high level of rights clearance<br />Rights clearance is arduous and frustrating<br />Rights clearance problems compel filmmakers to make changes adversely affecting their work<br />Filmmakers also create a “clearance culture”<br />Filmmakers engage in fair use<br />
  7. 7. Other Issues Relating to Rights Clearance<br />Orphan works<br />Archival works<br />Embedded works<br />
  8. 8. Releases<br />Right of privacy<br />Right of publicity<br />Defamation and false light<br />Location releases<br />First Amendment vs. personal/public rights<br />
  9. 9. No Clearance Needed<br />Buildings in plain view<br />Works by the federal government<br />Public domain works<br />
  10. 10. Corporate Form<br />C Corporation<br />Partnership (limited, general)<br />Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)<br />Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)<br />
  11. 11. For-Profit vs. Not-for-Profit<br />501(c)(3) is principal Internal Revenue Code provision<br />May affect ability to do types of films <br />Affects ability to use profits from film<br />May affects ability to obtain funding/sponsorship (e.g., grants)<br />
  12. 12. Conclusion<br />Understand the legal framework, but don’t become hostage to it<br />Consider rights clearance and plan for it in terms of overall content and budget<br />Need to clear and use of fair use depends on the circumstances, tolerance for risk, and ability to make an informed judgment<br />If unsure, seek further guidance <br />Michael Donaldson’s “Clearance and Copyright”<br />Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts,, 212-319-2787<br />
  13. 13. Thank You!Theodore K. ChengYOON & KIM 459-3669 (cell)(212) 584-0058 (work)<br />