Q: Can a writer give a waiver not to sue to a producer to steal their property, since theft is a crime and would be prosecuted in the criminal courts? Is their any civil remedy to the writer for theft?
A: Yes, a writer CAN sign a waiver promising not to sue a producer who misappropriates the writer's property. In fact, unless the writer is represented by an agent (or sometimes an attorney) many producers won't even consider looking at a pitch, treatment, script or whatever, without such a document, usually called a “release”.
These releases are typically very broad, with the writer acknowledging that the producer may have similar or identical material already Continue Reading
Q: I'm writing a modern spec screenplay based on a true story I discovered through Internet research, and based on interviews with two participants int eh events depicted in the story. The interviewees both eagerly agreed to participate, and have not asked for anything in exchange. However, it's been emphatically recommended to me that I seek their “life rights”. Since my economy probably won't allow me to purchase those rights prior to selling the script, what other alternative is there that serves the interests of both parties? Naturally, I'm willing to share a slice of my pie if I make a sale. I'm also willing to sign that I will not use or publish this script in any medium if it is not sold. What do you recommend I do?
A: The advice you've received is good, so far as it goes. You SHOULD obtain a written contract from the interviewees, which grants you the right to write, develop and exploit your screenplay based in part upon events of their lives. If you're planning to use their real names, etc., the agreement should also grant you those rights. This is usually called a “life-rights” contract. Continue Reading