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

Jan
23

Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Indie film distribution company The Film Arcade is furthering its outreach to indie projects with its newly launched distribution arm. Read more Here.

Jan
04

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.

May
06

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

Jul
19

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 adlerlaw.wordpress.com.

Jan
19

In a word, captivating!

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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…

View original post 713 more words

Jan
06

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.

Comma

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

Dec
13

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) lsglegal.com

For more information about entertainment law, visit my website.

Aug
04

Girish Kasaravalli Hopeful About Future of Indie Cinema
India West

Asked about the viability of indie and parallel cinema at the box office, Kasaravalli said, “The commercial aspect depends on the filmmaker. He has made a film.

France’s New Film Crew Wage Law Faces Legal Challenge
Hollywood Reporter

France’s New Film Crew Wage Law Faces Legal Challenge From The Association of Film Producers (l’APC), the Union of Independent Producers (SPI) and others.

NYC Independent Film Festival is Gearing Up for Its Fourth Year
Consumer Electronics Net

Theyre a part of the NYC Independent Film Festival. The Fourth Annual NYC Independent Film Festival celebrates the art of filmmaking. Whether made by a …

Indie cinema’s success will boost art films in India: Girish
Business Standard

The Indie filmmakers will get an opportunity to make movies independently. They will try to release themselves from the shackles of norms set up by the industry.

Catch up with Fort Myers Film Festival and “Missed It Mondays!”
Naples Daily News (blog)

The Fort Myers Film Festival is an intelligent independent filmmaker’s preferred event to create, unite and showcase the finest artistic cinematic works.

May
24

Entertainment Law Seminar: What In-House Lawyers Must Know About Exploiting Creative Content 

One of Chicago’s leading Entertainment Lawyers  David M. Adler, is pleased to announce an upcoming Entertainment Law seminar this fall, 2020.

This seminar, geared for in-house counsel tasked with managing a broad range of Intellectual Property, Marketing, Branding and Promotions efforts, deals with the role of attorneys and agents, personal and intellectual property rights, motion picture production and distribution, television rights and procedures, literary publishing, and music publishing and sound recordings. The seminar will also examine technological developments and contract negotiation tips.

This Seminar is FREE, but it is INVITATION-ONLY and currently limited to in-house counsel. Space is limited!

When:

T/B/D Fall 2020

Where:

T/B/D
CHICAGO, IL 60601

For more information, contact:

David M. Adler, JD, CIPP/US
ADLER LAW GROUP
Safeguarding Ideas, Relationships & Talent® 
300 Saunders Road, Suite 100
Riverwoods, Illinois 60015
Phone & Fax: (866) 734-2568
Admin [at] adler-law.com

 

May
02

The Business of Independent Film

For the past few years, the business of creating independent film has faced many challenges. Outside financing has suffered from the “Great Recession” as banks stopped lending, Federal Section 181 film tax credits have evaporated,  State film Tax credit programs have imploded from scandal and debate rages about the effectiveness of such programs. Three of the six major studios axed subsidiaries that had specialized in buying independent films. Consumer spending is transitioning from buying movies to simply renting them.

However, sales at film festivals continue to inspire filmmakers. So do seasoned, household-name producers. I was recently turned on to the text of Steven Soderbergh‘s speech at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Soderbergh discusses the state of the film industry and fellow indie film producer Ted Hope shares how encouragement and inspiration from Soderbergh kept him in production.

The full transcript of director Steven Soderbergh‘s keynote at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival can be found here.

Every independent filmmaker should listen.

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