Legal Ease



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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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, […]


LEGAL EASE: How Do I Get My Film Off YouTube? (3/21/2011)

Q: I created a short film in film school that I’m trying to turn into a full-length feature.  I set up a website that allows people to watch the film (I’m sending potential investors there instead of handing out DVDs).  A buddy just sent me […]


LEGAL EASE: What exactly are “Defined Net Proceeds”? (3/12/2011)

Q: My writing partner and I sold a script to a studio. We’ll share 5% of the “defined net proceeds.”Our manager says this means we’ll get a shot at making money if the movie is a big success, but he couldn’t explain the details.The contract […]


LEGAL EASE: Am I okay to proceed with a script based on a book I covered for someone else? (3/04/2011)

Q: A few months ago, I wrote coverage on a non-fiction book for a production company. Now, I’m interested in writing a screenplay on the same subject matter. If I sell the script to another studio, can the production company sue me?  Granted, it deals with […]