Loading...

VIDEO:

Using a Title that's Already Taken - Entertainment Law Asked & Answered - YouTube

https://firemark.com

TRANSCRIPT:

John has a question about choosing a title for his film when there's already a film with the same title out there.

Hi, I'm attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level.

So, here's John's question (I've removed the actual title he's referring to,)

I am starting to work on a script inspired by actual events.
I have chosen to give it a title I really think conveys everything it should about the script.

Recently, I noticed that there was a 2016 short with the same title.
Can I proceed with this as my title?

The 2016 version is fictional, and mine is based on actual events in my life pertaining to a legal issue.

Well, John, I think since you're in the early stages of things, and you're just starting to write a script, my advice has to be that you choose another title for your script. And really, right now, almost any title (even “Untitled”) will work. Once you've written the whole story, the right title may just come to you.

My point is, you shouldn't let this title issue be an excuse or reason NOT to write. Get your script onto the page…

Movie titles change along the way through development, and sometimes even in production or post-production. So don't get hung up on the title now.

But as for the legal aspects of your question, here's what I can tell you.

Generally, we're talking about the law of trademarks and unfair competition, which basically protect against confusion in the marketplace. Trademarks are used to distinguish the source, or origin of goods and services. So when you're out there buying things, you don't confuse one brand of cola from the other, or whatever.

But trademark law doesn't really protect a single title of a creative work… Like a script, film, book, poem or song. So you can't get a registration for a script title. But there are other kinds of legal claims that don't require a registration.

Ultimately, with titles for films, plays, etc., it's technically possible to use an already existing title on a new work… But I'd say that if the other film is fairly recent, you will probably encounter some pushback… Maybe a cease-and-desist letter, and possibly even a lawsuit.

So, you're talking about a film from about 2 years ago. That's pretty recent, so I'd say don't do it…

But what if you'd found some little known from 50 or 60 years ago?
That's a slightly different case, since the question of “likelihood of confusion” is at the core of this. And if you go and look, you WILL find common titles on unrelated films. There's less chance consumers (movie viewers) will be confused about which film they're watching.

But, even then, I think it's really not a good idea to put a product or service out into the world with a name that's confusingly similar to another one. That's bad for business, on both sides of the equation. Consumers get confused, word spreads, and your film can suffer.

And here's one more important point. When you go to distribute a film, the distributor will ask you to provide a Title Report and an Opinion Letter from a lawyer. This basically means that you're going to have a firm run a search and report on other, competing titles in media, online, books, and what-have-you. Then the lawyer is going to write a legal opinion based on that report, and advise you (and the distributor) about whether it's safe to use the title, or whether there's a risk of lawsuits.

So, to bottom line it here… don't use an existing film's title for your new screenplay or film.

If you have a question you'd like to see here on Asked and Answered, just visit https://firemark.com/questions and let me know.

See you next time!

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post Using a Title that’s Already Taken – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

VIDEO:

How to Protect Your Ideas when Working in Hollywood - Entertainment Law Asked & Answered - YouTube

https://firemark.com

TRANSCRIPT:

How to protect your intellectual property and other materials when working in Hollywood.

How do you protect yourself against things like story theft, idea theft, and outright copyright infringement, and still get your material out to influencers and buyers in the entertainment industry?

Hi, I'm attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level.

This is one of the most common questions I hear from my clients, students, and acquaintances…

It seems everybody is worried about their “stuff” getting stolen when they try to shop it around hollywood.

And that's a valid concern.. it does sometimes happen, but it's not the big concern everybody seems to make of it.

Much of this concern comes from a very common misconception. And that misconception is that ideas are some kind of “property”. That's just not true.

Ideas are NOT protected under copyright law, or any other law, unless they're also TRADE SECRETS. the key there is the word SECRET. If you share your idea with someone without a promise that they won't use it or tell it to others, it stops being a secret… and that's it. No protection.

If you have a question for me, just visit www.firemark.com/questions and let me know.

See you next time!

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post How to Protect Your Ideas when Working in Hollywood – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Are you classifying the people who work for you properly? I work with lots of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and I'm struck by how often people assume that just calling someone an independent contractor is enough to make that the case.

It's especially common with small independent films and theatre projects. Producers often include provisions in their contracts stating that the work is being performed by an independent contractor, who agrees to take responsibility for all taxes, workers' compensation, and other obligations.

But wishing it, or even contracting it won't make it so.

In 2012, shortly after California legislated some harsh penalties for misclassification of workers, I wrote about the so-called “Control test” which examines the degree of control the employer has over the worker in a number of areas.

Independent Contractor vs. Employee – misclassification can cost entertainment industry employers dearly.

New Supreme Court Ruling

But earlier this week, that changed. On April 30, 2018, California Supreme Court rendered its decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, and clarified the standard for determining whether workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors. The Court held that there is a presumption in favor of treating workers as employees, and that an independent contractor classification places a burden on the company to establish that it is proper under the so-called “ABC test”, which has been adopted in some other jurisdictions.

The ABC Test

Under this ABC test, the hiring entity must establish all of the following:

A. That the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract, and in fact; and

B. That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity's business; and

C. That the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.

What it means

This can mean trouble for folks in entertainment, since workers in the production business are typically working under the direction of the producer and doing work that is within the usual course of work (i.e., production). So, if you've operated using independent contractors as crew, cast, etc., you'll want to look harder at this issue in the future.

The issue most often comes to a head after a worker seeks unemployment compensation after a job ends. That application can trigger an audit. The same can occur when a worker is injured and seeks Worker Compensation coverage.

Care should be taken to properly classify workers and thus avoid fines, penalties which can range from $5,000 to as much as $25,000 per violation.

If you're a worker and you prefer to be classified as an independent contractor, the best way to handle things is by forming a loan-out corporation

Article: Should You Have A Loan-Out Company for your work in entertainment?.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post New California Ruling changes test for Independent Contractors originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

VIDEO:

How do you Persuade your Competitors and Colleagues to Comply with Copyrights and Contract Provision - YouTube

https://firemark.com

TRANSCRIPT:

How do you persuade your competitors and colleagues to comply with copyrights and contract provisions?

Hi, I'm attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level.

I got this inquiry from a gentleman who serves on the board of directors for a non-profit theatre company. He says:

“We have a code of conduct that our members sign which asks us to speak up if we see anything illegal happening in the theatre community. Until recently, our members were willing to sign this code, but there are reservations now because our newest members found themselves involved with productions which broke the law.

No one wants to speak up out of fear of being ostracized in an already fragmented community, but if we don't, then these violations will continue until one day, they will get caught and closed down. The compromise we have reached among ourselves is to simply ask the producers of shows which violate copyright if they are allowed to do what they are doing, but I don't think this enough to protect themselves.

The reason I am contacting you is to get advice on how to convince other companies to honor the copyrights and contracts of other artists and companies before they get in trouble on their own.

Well, First of all, I I applaud this conscientious approach to copyright. It’s quite rare, I’m afraid.

Now, generally I don’t think it’s really your obligation to police other companies’ compliance unless their actions impact your company. If that’s the case then I see it as an absolute obligation, and probably a dereliction of duty for nonprofit board members to ignore such threats.

Competitors doing shows without paying for the rights, or in violation of the license agreements DOES put your company at a disadvantage.  Complying with the law has a cost… So they’re spending less to achieve what you pay full freight to do.  Not fair.

So how do you convince folks to respect copyrights and contracts?  All you can do is ask. You don’t want to be the “tattletale” in the fragmented community you mentioned, but if you suspect they’re not in compliance, you can let them know that you’re going to check with the copyright owners about whether their productions are properly licensed. OR, you could also find a copyright-friendly local reporter and anonymously tip him/her off when you suspect a show isn’t properly licensed. You could also write editorials, blogs, etc., and take out some ads in programs, etc., to educate the public.  Basically, appeal to the community, and the patrons… To support only the shows that are doing things legally.

But ultimately, can you really influence them? I don’t know… until they get slapped with a nastygram from Samuel French’s lawyers, or a lawsuit. Then they’ll see the error of their ways.

You might point out that a single lawsuit could cost a company its entire existence. Lawyer fees alone could easily be more than the budget for an entire season, and the damage award for infringement can go as high as $150,000 per infringement. (i.e., each performance).

If you have a question you'd like to see here on Asked and Answered, just visit www.firemark.com/questions and let me know.

See you next time!

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post How do you Persuade Your Competitors and Colleagues to Comply with Copyrights and Contract Provisions? – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

It's been a while since we published an episode of our Entertainment Industry Insights podcast, so we're re-launching with a new season starting now.

In this solo-episode, I talk a bit about facing life's challenges and tests.  I hope you enjoy!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post The midterm exam you didn’t study for… originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

VIDEO:

What can You do if You Think Your Agent or Manager is Scamming You - YouTube

https://firemark.com

TRANSCRIPT:

What can you do if you think your agent or manager is scamming you?

Hi, I'm attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level.

Caitlin wrote in with a this: I have a SAG franchised agent in Detroit that I do both union and nonunion work through (right to work state). I feel they are scamming actors on the nonunion work, telling us for instance that a principal role in a commercial pays $400 when it actually pays a few thousand, and they are keeping the bulk of the money (the contract says they are entitled to 15%). I think this because I will get the email for the same job through another agent, and the rates on nonunion work are thousands of dollars different. There are other inconsistencies in their paperwork and while the rates are low they are buying new cameras and lights for in-house auditions. I asked a friend in law enforcement if this sounds like fraud and if they would do anything and they said probably not. Is there anything that should be done here?

Well first off, I have to say you really should enlist the help of a local lawyer who can guide you with this.

If you have a written contract with this agency, check whether you have a right to audit or examine the agency’s books and records. If so, you can hire a forensic accountant to do so, and help figure out what the agency is being paid for these jobs.

You could also ask one of the producers of a project about it, but doing so is risky, since you’d be accusing the agency of wrongdoing to one of their customers.

Finally, you could confront the agency with the info you’re receiving from other sources, and ask for an explanation. And you should insist on signing contracts for every gig… contracts that should specify the pay rate…

And if you don't have a written contract with the agency, you can probably still do all these things, OR you can explore whether it's time to terminate the relationship. Again, consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction.

That's it for this session. If you have a question you'd like to see here on Asked and Answered, just visit www.firemark.com/questions and let me know.

See you next time!

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post What can You do if You Think Your Agent or Manager is Scamming You – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

VIDEO:

An Interesting Defamation Question - Entertainment Law Asked & Answered - YouTube

https://firemark.com

TRANSCRIPT:

I've got a pretty interesting defamation question for you today…

Hi, I'm attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level.

A viewer wrote in with this question:

I've written a spec pilot set in a real and widely known American city in the 1950s. At one point an official of a real institution, which can't be fictionalized since there's only one institution of that kind in every city, accepts a bribe. I wonder whether that might cause problems.

This is a Great question. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give an opinion without reviewing the actual piece in question. But In principle, it COULD be a real issue.

This is a question mainly about the law of defamation. That's LIBEL, if it's in print, electronic form, etc, and Slander if it's a spoken conversation.

The elements for a case of defamation vary a little from State to State, but fundamentally, they are:

  1. A False Statement (So truth is always a defense)
  2. About the plaintiff;
  3. That is published, and;
  4. Causes plaintiff injury to reputation and standing in the community.
  5. And… When the plaintiff is a public figure, there's an added requirement… That the material was published with “Actual Malice”. Essentially, that the defendant KNEW it was false, or was RECKLESS about whether it was false.

OK, so this question, mainly turns on that second element… “about the plaintiff”

You see, if the character in your pilot and the real office-holder can’t be separated and distinguished from one another, then the statements *would* seem to be “about” that person. And if they're false and damaging, they'd amount to libel.

But if the character and the real person are radically different in other ways, so the average person that receives the message doesn't automatically conclude, “Oh, they're talking about so-and-so”, well then you might be OK.

For example, if it’s set in Los Angeles in 1955, and the story includes a corrupt police chief… It’d probably be wise to make the story’s police chief as different as possible from the real one, William Parker, so the audience doesn't think you’re attributing the wrongdoing to him.

Also, if the person in question is deceased, his or her rights to sue for defamation, invasion of privacy, etc., probably died with him/her. Again, this is something that can vary from State to State, but this many years later, chances are, there's no right to sue.

Bottom line, this calls for a true legal analysis performed by a lawyer hired to give a formal opinion. You could leave that up to the producer or the network.. But you may find that it's an easier pitch if you can give some assurances.

That does it for this session of Asked and Answered. If you have a question for me, just visit www.firemark.com/questions and let me know.

See you next time!

This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The post An Interesting Defamation Question – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered originally appeared on Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark - Los Angeles Entertainment Lawyers - Theatre, Film, TV & New Media

Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview