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20 ways to use your entertainment lawyer in the new year.

20 ways to use your entertainment lawyer in the new year.

Are you missing opportunities because you're not using your entertainment lawyer?

If you're like most people, you don't think much about having a lawyer on your side until you need advice, or to make or defend against some kind of threat. But having an experienced entertainment lawyer on your team can do much more for your career or business in the entertainment industry if you take advantage of all the ways you can use your lawyer. Here, in no particular order, is a list of ways you might not have thought about to use your lawyer to full effect:

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Asked & Answered – Can I use another film’s title or scenes in my screenplay?

Asked & Answered – Can I use another film’s title or scenes in my screenplay?

Q: Cat asks whether it's practical to mention other films' titles, and to quote dialogue or include a clip of a scene from another movie in her screenplay, or will it deter producers from getting interested in her project.

A: My answer in the video below:





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Asked & Answered: Do I have to share?

3d figure question mark


Patricia Asks:An acquaintance of mine knows I write screenplays and said he had an idea for me. It turned out to be a good one.I wrote a screenplay. The characters, story, and scenes were all mine.I wouldn't have written it if not for his idea but it was a very broad, general scenario…How much credit do I give him for his idea?


This video provides my answer:





Well Patricia, there are several layers we have to peel back here.

First, from a strictly legal point of view, there's no copyright protection for ideas. In fact a judge once said “Ideas are as free as the air”. So, unless you made some kind of a promise of shared credit (or money) (a contract, in other words) to your friend, you don't legally have to do so.

That said, if you want to keep this friend, it's a good idea to thank him properly with a “special thanks” credit or something. But, you need to be aware that doing so COULD be used as evidence against you, if there's ever a lawsuit. “If you don't owe me anything, why'd you thank me?”

Now, I'm kind of divided about whether it's a good idea to talk about the issue, and propose a solution. You might mention (as casually as possible), “Hey, by the way, I ran with that idea you GAVE me, and it's been some work, but it's turning out really good. I hope you don't mind if I mention you in the ‘special thanks' section of the credits”.

At the very least, this will open up a conversation, and if he says “Hey, sure”, you can follow it up with a quick e-mail that says “Thanks again. We've AGREED that you'll get mentioned in the “Special Thanks” part of the credits.

If he objects, and demands a better credit, or a share of the money you get from the script, well, you're free to make that agreement, but understand that it could make selling the thing a little bit more complicated. If you decide not to share, as I said that's your prerogative, but you should expect that he'll sue you later on if the thing gets made. But more importantly, you have an obligation to disclose these kinds of disputes to the prospective buyer of your script, so think carefully about how you handle the situation.

If you don't have a conversation and come to some understanding, and you decide not to put your friend in the ‘special thanks', , you still risk that lawsuit, but since you don't KNOW that your friend objects, you don't have to disclose anything to the buyer when selling the piece.


Asked & Answered: Can I set my sports movie in a real sports league?

Christian writes:I have a story in mind that takes place in a popular sports league. It’s not based on actual events, it just involves the specific league.Since it’s probably very hard to actually get the rights to write about the league, should I write the script with a made up sports league? (like Any Given… Continue Reading

Entertainment Law Update Podcast, Episode 33 – Cease and Desist, but nicely

      Call us with your feedback:(310) 243-6231 In this Episode: J. Geils Band Trademark Dispute Two Three’s Companys is a crowd Copyright Royalty Board unconsitutional Jack Daniels sends the sweetest cease and desist ever and more… Entertainment Law Update is brought to you by Clio, the best way to manage your practice online.… Continue Reading

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