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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Asked and Answered: Idea Theft and Submission Releases/Waivers.

qQ:  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

Asked and Answered: My script is based on real people. What rights do I need?

qQ:  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

Entertainment Law Update Podcast: Episode 006: Britney worships the man downstairs?

Episode 6 of my Entertainment Law Update podcast is now available. Please visit the site to subscribe using iTunes or your favorite RSS Reader. Attorneys can get California MCLE (Continuing Legal Eduction) credit, too!

podcast-logo [audio:]

Download Episode (right click)

Approximate Running Time: 1:07

In this Episode:

  • Quick Takes on recent court cases resolved/decided
  • Mars Foods not liable in idea submission case over Addams Family M&Ms
  • FTC  Guidelines for blog endorsements
  • “Push” distribution dispute leaves Weinstein Company empty handed
  • California Anti-Papparazzi Legislation
  • Beatles Music and ‘psycho acoustic simulation'
  • Celebrity online identity theft
  • and much, much more.

Asked and Answered: Do I need BOTH an agent and an attorney?

Q: What is the relationship between an entertainment attorney and an agent? The promotion and the protection of intellectual property are inextricably related. Can an erstwhile screen author obtain combined services? A: Your Agent and your lawyer are each key members of your team. If you think of your screenwriting career as the business that… Continue Reading

Business Owners: Don’t be fooled by official-looking solicitations

California business owners have recently been plagued by phony  notices suggesting that they’re in danger of losing their corporate status, or being subjected to fines.  These official-looking notices from organizations with names like “corporate compliance center” request a fee and completion of a form to ensure the company’s continued compliance with California Law.    At best, these… Continue Reading

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