Why Early Script Clearance Is a Must
Early script clearance may not seem critical with the advent of digital image technology. Filmmakers can now create substantive changes to entire scenes in post-production. At first blush this may appear to lessen the need for early detection of legal problems.
Even if copyright infringement or harm claims against your film are limited to a small scene or piece of dialogue, the damage can be catastrophic.
But your film can carry a legal risk that extends beyond a few scenes. When the entire concept for your film or show infringes on another’s intellectual property, you may end up in the same position as the creators of NBC’s Timeless.
A Timeless Idea
Your writing professor may have told you that there are only seven original stories, but that didn’t stop a lawsuit against NBC for stealing the premise for their TV show Timeless.
The suit claims that the new show violated the copyright of the existing Spanish drama El Ministerio del Tiempo (“The Department of Time”).
Most time-travel stories revolve around attempts to correct problems in history. However, the complaint against NBC and the show’s creators revolves around the many other similarities between El Ministerio del Tiempo and Timeless.
These similarities include how both shows revolve around a three-person team of two men and a woman, who work for a secret government bureau dedicated to preserving history.
Sony, NBC, and others are fighting the lawsuit, but the pending litigation could impact ongoing production. While major production studios have the financial wherewithal to press their case in court (or to settle financially at some point), this option simply isn’t available to most.
Acquiring script clearance from the very beginning is essential to avoiding costly delays, rewrites, or canceled projects.
Copyrights without Borders
While a concept infringement lawsuit is nothing new, of particular note is that the complainant is from an overseas production. If you’re a filmmaker, you need to consider the possibility of international copyright.
Your show concept might be novel to American audiences. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t infringe on copyrighted works from Malaysia, Uruguay, or China (just three of the 94 nations that have signed the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty).
Even the most careful of writers and producers can inadvertently create risk in their project. And with the entire world of intellectual property on the table, the costs of not identifying those risks early in your project are high.
Script clearance shows you from the outset where potential problems lie, giving you a wider range of options to work with.
From premises to historical figures to eight simple words, your film can create risk in many ways. The good news is that you can take steps to protect your film from unexpected claims of infringement with The Clearance Lab.
Secure early script clearance with our Global Complete Clearance Package, and protect your film with research and due diligence that extends beyond domestic intellectual property.