Why Bother with a Script Clearance Report?
With a film script clearance report, film and television producers can avoid several legal problems that impede production.
If you think your project isn’t at risk of exposure, know that only a single comment in dialogue or a brief glimpse of a painting can spawn costly lawsuits.
It’s often the small and easily missed details that lead you toward legal entanglements.
However, with film and television script clearance, you help prevent possible copyright, trademark, publicity, privacy, defamation, and other forms of infringement.
From innapropriate jokes to the unauthorized appearance of a product, it’s difficult to catch small and accidental infractions that leave screenwriters, filmmakers, and producers exposed.
Not to mention, E&O insurance and distributor guidelines more often than not dictate that film and television scripts must be cleared before distribution.
To break down what script clearance is, and why it’s important, I’m sharing a scenario that outlines how easy and common it is to fall prey to legal conflicts.
Why it’s so important to register your film script.
Let’s say you’ve written or acquired a film script and after a number of rewrites you’re ready for production. You think every single syllable is original.
While you’ve written content that has never existed in any form of media before, there is the name of a business that’s identical to a store that exists in real life, even though you searched the Internet to make certain your fictional store didn’t infringe upon an existing name.
That’s potential grounds for a lawsuit.
Even though the similarities are coincidental, and you had no intention of mimicking this brand name, that one title could cause the production company to lose settlement money.
It’s easy to miss these mistakes. When you acquire script clearance from a team of legal professionals, you not only avoid legal exposure, but you also bypass rewrites, reshoots, and costly post-production expenditures.
If you think you don’t need script clearance, think again. Copyright lawsuits have almost prevented many tremendous film franchises from seeing the light of day.
Here are a couple of examples:
Film script clearance case study 1: The Hangover III lawsuit
The tattoo you see on Ed Helms’ face almost shut production down.
The artist who designed the tattoo, S. Victor Whitmill, filed a lawsuit against Warner Brothers Entertainment a few weeks before the film’s release.
Warner Brothers stated that it was willing to alter the tattoo for streaming and home video release, but ultimately settled with Mr. Whitman out of court for an undisclosed amount.
The producers had enough capital to pay off the plaintiff, but excess funds are not always there when you work outside of a major studio.
Read more about this copyright infringement claim here.
Photo Source: Warner Brothers
Film script clearance case study 2: the Ip Man 3 lawsuit
This film was to feature a CGI recreation of Bruce Lee.
Down to the signature maneuvers, this animation was to be a perfect homage to the late martial arts icon.
Regardless of whether or not the name Bruce Lee was to be used, there was enough protected material to allow legal proceedings.
The Lee estate took issue with using this likeness and filed suit.
Originally slated for an early 2016 release, this film has been tied up in legal battles and is unlikely to be released until an agreement is made.
Photo Source: brucelee.com
How to prevent this scenario and protect your creative work.
Bottom line: get a script clearance report.
When you purchase a script clearance report, you prevent possible copyright, trademark, publicity, privacy, defamation, and other forms of infringement in your film or television script.
Secure your script here.