Indiefilmlaw's Blog
Ideas, Inspiration and Legal Resources for Artists, Filmmakers, Producers and Film Students


The case is Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., et al. v. X One X Productions, dba X One X Movie Archives, Inc., et al., Case No. 15-3728 (8th Cir., Nov. 1, 2016) (Gruender, J).

Warner owns registered copyrights in the films Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and the cartoon Tom and Jerry. Defendant obtained restored versions of movie posters and lobby cards for the films, and from these publicity materials it extracted then licenses these images for use on a wide variety of consumer products, from shirts, lunch boxes, and playing cards to three-dimensional figurines, water globes, and action figures. The images included Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, and Tom and Jerry. Warner filed suit against AVELA in 2006, asserting copyright and trademark infringement claims under the Copyright Act, Lanham Act, and state law. The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment and permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from licensing images from movies owned by Warner.


Are you searching for a good source of information and inspiration for your creative works. Whether you work in film, television, digital audio-visual and related art and entertainment endeavors, you’ll find something useful in our forth coming podcast: “Indie Film Law Podcast.” Original, I know. The content will be. Subscribe through iTunes.


Have a question or suggestion? Some whom you’d like to hear interviewed? Get in touch!


DigiExam, a startup that’s setting out to digitize academic exams, has raised $3.5 million to grow internationally and establish itself as the de facto provider of digital exams and assessments. DigiExam is a cloud-based (naturally) platform that merges the offline/online world and promises cheat-proof closed-book exams, with a lockdown feature that prevents students from browsing…

via DigiExam raises $3.5 million to bring digital exams to schools — VentureBeat

NEWS (press release) (blog)
Sundance 2016: 17 most anticipated indie films premiering at the festival

Sundance Film Festival 2016 gets underway today and it is set to be put some great independent films from all around the world in the spotlight.
Huffington Post
The Fellowship Of The Film

Waller: We were this indie film, so you don’t budget to have a two-month scout — you got three days. We just didn’t have the budget, so …
Hollywood Reporter
Film Hawk’: Sundance Review

Behind-the-scenes indie film guru Bob Hawk gets his close-up in Film Hawk, a warm tribute to a man who, for 40 years and often selflessly, has helped …
Noisey (blog)
Mark Duplass Looks Back at the Time He Almost Had a Career as an Indie Rock Star

In some alternate universe, Mark Duplass would not be a name most people associate with low-budget indie films about coming to terms with …
Indie Wire (blog)
Before Nate Parker’s Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett’s 

August 21st, 1831, in Virginia, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion, hoping to inspire a slave uprising in the south. Several dozen whites were killed before …
Amazon Studios’ ‘Creative Control’ looks at the dark side of virtual reality

Amazon announced that its second film — Paterson — is being directed by Jim Jarmusch (known for indie films like Coffee and Cigarettes) and stars …
Sundance 2016 Wrap-Up: Streaming Services Come of Age

Shelling out big money for a hot indie film on the festival circuit has never been a safe bet – a recent example being Fox Searchlight’s $12 million …
Hollywood Reporter
Indian Comedy ‘Brahman Naman’ to Premiere Globally on Netflix

The film is written by Naman Ramachandran and co-produced by Celine … Q is considered one of India’s most provocative indie film-makers and his …
The 405
Scene Dissection: Shadows (1959, John Cassavetes)

The films and their directors found in this vein seemingly thrive from the … whereas the abbreviated ‘indie‘ is better to describe those films that follow …
Luxemburger Wort
Mekka des Independent-Films: „The Birth of a Nation“ gewinnt beim Sundance Film Festival

Der Film der iranischen Regisseurin Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami dreht sich um … Zahlreiche Hollywood-Stars waren mit ihren Indie-Filmen vertreten, …
male actor needed for indie film

MALE ACTOR NEEDED FOR INDIE FILM. no pay. Looking for a male actor 18-25 to play supporting character in a thriller suspense drama.

Small indie films look beyond theatrical release


“Most people still don’t see indie films as a viable option,” Mustafa said. “And not many distributors are willing to put money in them.”

25th Gotham Awards put ‘Spotlight’ on indie films

The lovely yuletide indie Christmas, Again gets every little detail right

By contrast, the even tinier indie film Christmas, Again, which focuses on just one NYC tree merchant, offers virtually nothing but authenticity.


Indie Film Crew & Some Cast (Day Players, Extras) Rush Call


Hello Everyone! We are currently gearing up to shoot a low budget feature film here in Michigan starting next week.

Lawsuit alleges that idea for “Ted” the foul-mouthed bear was stolen

A production company in California, Bengal Mangle Productions, has filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement over the 2012 movie about a foul-mouthed stuffed toy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The lawsuit alleges that Seth MacFarlane Fuzzy Door Productions, Media Rights Capital, and Universal Studios stole the idea behind “Ted” a stuffed animal that lives in a human world, is vulgar and likes drinking, smoking and prostitutes.

In order to prove copyright infringement, one must show copying of the protected elements of a valid copyright. Funky Films, Inc. v. Time Warner Entertainment Co., 462 F.3d 1072 (9th Cir., 2006) Typically, ownership is less of an issue than “proof of infringement,” which involves fact-based showings of “access” to the protected work and “substantially similarity between the two works.

The complaint, made available by The Hollywood Reporter, claims MacFarlane and the other defendants had access because the character of “Ted” was taken from the screenplay for a work called Acting School Academy that features a character named “Charlie” who “lives in an adult world with his human friends and “has a penchant for drinking, smoking, prostitutes.” Acting School Academy was turned into a web series featured on YouTube and iTunes as early as 2009 and the Charlie character had a YouTube spinoff titled “Charlie the Abusive Teddy Bear.” MacFarlane’s Ted didn’t play in theaters until 2012.

The lawsuit claims, the “Ted character is strikingly similar to Plaintiff’s Charlie character. Like Ted, Charlie lives in a human world, is vulgar and likes drinking, smoking and prostitutes.”

While on the surface it appears that Bangle Mangle has a viable copyright infringement claim, it is more complicated. The premise of the copyright infringement claim – one that has been completely overlooked by most media – is the assumption that the “Charlie” character is protected under copyright law.

A recent 7th Circuit court case examined the boundaries of protectable story characters in the context of literary works. “The more vague, the less “complete,” a character, the less likely it is to qualify for copyright protection.” For example, “a character described merely as an un-expectedly knowledgeable old wino,” may not be protectable. However, “a character that has a specific name and appearance” whose attributes include “what he knows and says, his name, and his … facial features combine to create a distinctive character. No more is required for a character copyright.” Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. No. 13 C 1226 (N.D. Ill., 2013)

The result in Bengal Mangle Productions, LLC v. Seth MacFarlane, et al. 14-cv-5498 (C. Dist. CA 2014) will no doubt turn on the scope of protection afforded to the bear’s character.

David Adler is the founder of Adler Law Group and practices in the firm’s technology and intellectual property sections. David’s practice primarily involves assisting companies in commercializing and protecting their intellectual property and technology assets. David’s clients range from software companies to film production companies to digital content aggregators. For additional articles on IP, media and entertainment law, visit


Meet the Boise Film Underground, a Band of Indie Filmmakers Hard at Work in Idaho

Indie Wire (blog)

Thriving in the burgeoning heart of Idaho’s cinema scene is the Boise Film Underground, a collective of hard-working, independent-minded filmmakers.

Michel Gondry’s next film is about teenage runaways

A.V. Club DC

Michel Gondry’s next film is about teenage runaways … French director Michel Gondry is known for the surreal filmmaking style he applied to … to the world of indie films, releasing the dreamy French romance Mood Indigo.

ECU Film Festival President Scott Hillier’s vision to help filmmakers

Film Industry Network

This year the ECU Film Festival has screened a host of independent films from all over the world connecting audiences of different cultures and beliefs


In a word, captivating!





In The Beckoning Silence, Joe Simpson–whose amazing battle for survival featured in the multi-award winning “Touching the Void”–travels to the treacherous North Face of the Eiger to tell the story of one of mountaineerings most epic tragedies. As a child, it was this story and that of one of the climbers in particular, that first captured Simpsons imagination and inspired him to take up mountaineering.

Toni Kurz was a brilliant young mountaineer, who along with three other climbers tried to climb the mountain in 1936, which was then the last great unconquered peak in the Alps. Their assault on the mountain started well, but then disaster struck. One by one Kurzs colleagues were killed, leaving him alone, hanging on the end of a rope fighting for his life in the most horrific of circumstances. Over 50 years later in Peru, Kurzs story haunted Simpson as he battled for…

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Great post on the need for the Oxford comma. Amazing how such a small thing makes such a big difference.

Squirrel Thoughts

Oxford comma-nistas around the world are having a heyday over a recent push alert sent by Sky News, which they believe is the end-all, be-all argument in favor of their precious punctuation mark.


Now, let’s be clear: The Oxford comma is necessary in this “sentence” as it’s written. Obviously, there are some pretty serious implications without it. However, this whole “sentence,” if you can even call it that, could be rewritten for clarity, and we would not have been subjected to all this nonsense in the first place. The Oxford comma-nistas would never suggest that though!

See, the purpose of a comma when used in a list is to replace the word “and.” When you use an Oxford comma in a list of three or more items, it’s redundant. You’re essentially writing “and and.” And that’s just silly.

Let me spell it out for you using another famed Oxford comma-nista example:…

View original post 326 more words


News of Paul Walker’s death was tragic and unsettling. As an avid car enthusiast, I am a big fan of the “Fast” franchise of adrenaline pumping car chase movies. I’m sure I join his many fans in mourning our loss.

Which got me thinking about whether the installment of the film franchise in which he was starring, “Fast and Furious 7” would be completed. While producers often commission rewrites in the process of making a film, the loss of a key figure in the story line highlights an often-overlooked component of film production: key person insurance.

As Production counsel, one of the many line items on my task list is a slot for insurance. In addition to general commercial liability insurance, I also counsel clients to obtain “key person” insurance (also known as “key man” insurance) to insure against this exact scenario. This type of Insurance may also protect against loss of other key individuals involved in the production. Like many enterprises, film production relies in a variety of key people – writers, directors, consultants – the loss of whom would have a material adverse effect on the film.

In the case of “Fast 7”, it will be interesting to see how, or if, the project continues since that decision may be up to the insurance carrier, according to a recent Hollywood Reporter article. Even though much of the movie has been filmed, many action sequences have not.

While the current producer, Universal, has indicated its desire to continue the project, the insurance carrier may have the final say. At this point, the financial risks such as costs to edit the script, screen and cast new talent, and finish filming will fall to the insurer. The decision to continue filming in the hope that release of the finished movie will generate enough revenue to offset those costs, is balanced against the decision to end production and write-off the cost of the insurance payout.

Clients sometimes laugh at my over-cautious approach to identifying and protecting against risks in film production. This unfortunate tragedy highlights how real, and unexpected, these risks can be.

If you are planning to produce a film or have already commenced production, feel free to contact me for a free consultation. It’s never too late to take a second look at business structure, contracts and other risk mitigation techniques.

I can be reached at (866) 734-2568 or dadler (at)

For more information about entertainment law, visit my website.

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