Monthly Archives: August 2010

Entertainment Law Update Podcast Episode 13

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In this Episode:

  • Follow Ups:  Justin Bieber; Tenenbaum, Kate Plus 8
  • Fleeting Expletives
  • JayZ wins
  • A few Fair Use cases
  • Copyrights, Trademark cases
  • Some BIG wins for plaintiffs in profit participation suits.

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Asked and Answered: Query letters as unsolicited submissions?

Q: As a TV/film screenwriter I've sent short pitches and query letters to several agents. Some have responded with requests to see my work, but other have returned my queries with a “no unsolicited” material letter from the submissions department. I have two questions: 1) Since when is a query to an agent unsolicited material and can anything be done about it? 2) As I am over 40 years old, since the TV Writers Settlement on age discrimination is there anyway to encourage agents to at least review my work?

A: You're encountering the catch-22 most writers face as they're getting started out.  It's difficult to get anyone to review your work, unless it's recommended to them by someone they trust, but you can't get those recommendations until someone has read the work.

The meaning of “unsolicited” is that the recipient of the submission has not specifically asked for it.    Now, a short query isn't usually returned in this way, but some companies may take a harder line than others.    The bottom line is that you'll encounter this from time to time.  Some agencies may not be taking on new clients, so they're not reading any queries.

As for the age-discrimination argument,  I daresay that the law can't force people to consider representing anyone.   If you're a member of the WGA,  you might want to take this up with them.

Actually, though, unless it's a rather unusual query, the recipient shouldn't even know the age of the sender.   So, based on the question, I suspect you're submitting more than mere queries.  That may be part of the reason you're getting returns marked ‘unsolicited'.

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for readers’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.


Thinking of Producing it yourself? subscribe to my FREE e-course “6 ways to Finance A Feature Film” by visiting https://firemark.com/minicourse

Asked and Answered: Can I register my copyright under a Pseudonym?

Q: What's required to protect the rights to a screenplay written under a pseudonym?

A: Good news. You don't have to do anything special to protect the rights. As I always say, however, it's a good idea to register your copyright, as doing so provides some heightened protection, and the right to pursue statutory damages, attorneys' fees, etc.

According to the Register of Copyrights, a pseudonym or pen name may be used by an author of a copyrighted work. A work is pseudonymous if the author is identified on copies or phonorecords of that work by a fictitious name. Nicknames or other diminutive forms of one’s legal name are not considered fictitious. As is the case with other names, the pseudonym itself is not protected by copyright.

If you are writing under a pseudonym but wish to be identified by your legal name in the records of the Copyright Office, you should give your legal name and your pseudonym when filling out your application. Check the box labeled “Pseudonymous” if the author is identified on copies of the work only under a fictitious name and if the work is not made for hire. Give the pseudonym on the associated line.

If you are writing under a pseudonym but do not wish to have your identity revealed in the records of the Copyright Office, you should give your pseudonym and identify it as such. You may leave blank the space for the name of the author. If the author’s name is given, it will be made part of the online public records produced by the Copyright Office and will be accessible via the Internet. This information cannot be removed later from those public records. You must, however, identify the citizenship or domicile of the author.

In no case should you omit the name of the copyright claimant. You may use a pseudonym in completing the claimant space, but you should also be aware that if a copyright is held under a fictitious name, business dealings involving that property may raise questions of ownership of the copyright property. You should consult an attorney for legal advice on these matters.

If the author is identified in the records of the Copyright Office, the term of the copyright is the author’s life plus 70 years. If the author is not identified in the records of the Copyright Office, the term of copyright is 95 years from publication of the work or 120 years from its creation, whichever term expires first. If the author’s identity is later revealed in the records of the Copyright Office, the copyright term then becomes the author’s life plus 70 years.

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for readers’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.


Thinking of Producing it yourself? subscribe to my FREE e-course “6 ways to Finance A Feature Film” by visiting https://firemark.com/minicourse

How Musical Theater projects get financed

Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be leading a theater financing workshop at the Academy For New Musical Theater. If you’re interested, it’s not too late to sign up! Just Visit ANMT.org, by clicking the links below. HOW DOES A MUSICAL GET FINANCED? Thinking about producing yourself? Wondering what makes producers tick? Looking for financing for your… Continue Reading

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