Legal Ease

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LEGAL EASE: THIS CAN’T BE RIGHT…BY SIGNING THIS UNSOLICITED SUBMISSION AGREEMENT I’M BASICALLY GIVING UP MY RIGHTS? (12/05/2011)

Q: Here’s a quote from an unsolicited submission agreement I was sent. “I hereby grant to you the non-exclusive right to use any or all of the Material for any and all purposes, in perpetuity.” Am I missing something or do I understand this correctly […]

Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother Where Art Thou is based on The Odyssey

LEGAL EASE: WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH “BASED ON” VS. “INSPIRED BY”? (10/27/2011)

Q: I have a question regarding the rights needed to make a film “based on” a book, and/or “inspired by” a book. Is there a legal difference between these two terms? It seems that one implies a more direct adaptation (“based on”) and the other […]

In their down time Matt and Jess love to sit back and watch a Gnome named Gnorm and other like named films.

LEGAL EASE: MY TITLE IS THEIR TITLE – NOW WHAT? (10/10/2011)

Q: I’m in the process of wrapping up a movie.  I just discovered that the title we’ve been using, and the title I love, was the title of a little known [major studio] film from back in the 70’s.  Can I still use the title? […]

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LEGAL EASE: IS THIS PRODUCER TRYING TO PULL SOMETHING OVER ON ME? (9/19/2011)

Q: I just had someone send me an option agreement. I’m not going to lie… a lot of it is legal mumbo jumbo that I don’t fully understand but seems harmless. There’s one thing though that seems really weird. It says that the Producer is […]

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LEGAL EASE: How can I use my “dream song” in my film? (8/22/2011)

Q: There’s a song on one of my favorite albums that I’ve always thought would be perfect in a movie.I’ve been making movies for a few years now and finally have a project that the song is perfect for. Who do I need to contact […]

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LEGAL EASE: How do I safely name my new production company? (8/05/2011)

Q: My friends and I recently formed a production company that we plan to use to produce straight-to-DVD movies. We really like the name we picked and think it’s really distinctive. When we formed the company, we had to do a name search with the […]

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LEGAL EASE: If historical events/figures are open game for the public to write about, when is it necessary to secure nonfiction book rights? (6/06/2011)

Q: I read in the trades that Fox bought the rights to the nonfiction book The Floor of Heaven which is based on an historical figure during an historical event. If historical events/figures are open game for the public to write about, when is it […]

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LEGAL EASE: Why should I secure nonfiction book rights when it comes to historical events and figures? (5/06/2011)

Q: I read in the trades that a studio bought the rights to a nonfiction book based on a historical figure during the Gold Rush – Deadline. If historical events/figures are open game for the public to write about, when is it necessary to secure […]

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LEGAL EASE: What Copyright Rules Apply if I Record a Live Show for My Film? (4/26/2011)

Q: I’m a documentarian.  If I were to record a live show as part of a documentary – audio and visual – am I free to use it even if there’s live music being played in the background? A: Look, I’m no math magician, but […]

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LEGAL EASE: So…what exactly is ‘Pay or Play’? (4/04/2011)

Q: I’ll keep this brief to avoid boring you to death. From my understanding, a pay or play agreement means an actor will attach themselves to the project, but if the film never makes it to production, at least the actor will still get paid. So basically, […]