{"ab":false,"abStatus":null,"abTestId":null,"abVariation":false,"abVariationAutomated":false,"absoluteUrl":"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles/articles/bid/102723/e-o-insurance-how-much-of-your-productions-format-is-copyright-able","afterPostBody":null,"allowedSlugConflict":false,"analytics":null,"analyticsPageId":"137640-102723","analyticsPageType":"blog-post","approvalStatus":null,"archived":false,"archivedAt":0,"archivedInDashboard":false,"areCommentsAllowed":true,"attachedStylesheets":[],"audienceAccess":"PUBLIC","author":null,"authorName":null,"authorUsername":null,"blogAuthor":{"avatar":"","bio":"","cdnPurgeEmbargoTime":null,"cosObjectType":"BLOG_AUTHOR","created":1401901240000,"deletedAt":0,"displayName":"Doran Chandler","email":"lisa@frontrowinsurance.com","facebook":"","fullName":"Doran Chandler","gravatarUrl":"https://app.hubspot.com/settings/avatar/38b9d7dead8246860e510b1560aa6b71","hasSocialProfiles":false,"id":951502273,"label":"Doran Chandler","language":null,"linkedin":"","name":"Doran Chandler","portalId":61352,"slug":"doran-chandler","translatedFromId":null,"translations":{},"twitter":"","twitterUsername":"","updated":1401901240000,"userId":null,"username":"lisa@frontrowinsurance.com","website":""},"blogAuthorId":951502273,"blogPostAuthor":{"avatar":"","bio":"","cdnPurgeEmbargoTime":null,"cosObjectType":"BLOG_AUTHOR","created":1401901240000,"deletedAt":0,"displayName":"Doran Chandler","email":"lisa@frontrowinsurance.com","facebook":"","fullName":"Doran Chandler","gravatarUrl":"https://app.hubspot.com/settings/avatar/38b9d7dead8246860e510b1560aa6b71","hasSocialProfiles":false,"id":951502273,"label":"Doran Chandler","language":null,"linkedin":"","name":"Doran Chandler","portalId":61352,"slug":"doran-chandler","translatedFromId":null,"translations":{},"twitter":"","twitterUsername":"","updated":1401901240000,"userId":null,"username":"lisa@frontrowinsurance.com","website":""},"blogPostScheduleTaskUid":null,"blogPublishInstantEmailCampaignId":null,"blogPublishInstantEmailRetryCount":0,"blogPublishInstantEmailTaskUid":"DONE","blogPublishToSocialMediaTask":"DONE","blueprintTypeId":0,"businessUnitId":null,"campaign":null,"campaignName":null,"campaignUtm":null,"category":3,"categoryId":3,"cdnPurgeEmbargoTime":null,"clonedFrom":null,"composeBody":null,"compositionId":0,"contentAccessRuleIds":[],"contentAccessRuleTypes":[],"contentGroup":952267656,"contentGroupId":952267656,"contentTypeCategory":3,"contentTypeCategoryId":3,"contentTypeId":null,"created":1330381220000,"createdById":null,"createdTime":1330381220000,"crmObjectId":null,"css":{},"cssText":"","ctaClicks":null,"ctaViews":null,"currentState":"PUBLISHED","currentlyPublished":true,"deletedAt":0,"deletedBy":null,"domain":"","dynamicPageDataSourceId":null,"dynamicPageDataSourceType":null,"dynamicPageHubDbTableId":null,"enableDomainStylesheets":null,"enableGoogleAmpOutputOverride":false,"enableLayoutStylesheets":null,"errors":[],"featuredImage":"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg","featuredImageAltText":"Copyright: How much of your production's format is copyrightable?","featuredImageHeight":371,"featuredImageLength":0,"featuredImageWidth":600,"flexAreas":{},"folderId":null,"footerHtml":"","freezeDate":1330381140000,"generateJsonLdEnabledOverride":true,"hasContentAccessRules":false,"hasUserChanges":true,"headHtml":"","header":null,"htmlTitle":"E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?","id":951501733,"includeDefaultCustomCss":null,"isCaptchaRequired":true,"isDraft":false,"isInstantEmailEnabled":true,"isPublished":true,"isSocialPublishingEnabled":false,"keywords":[],"label":"<span id=\"hs_cos_wrapper_name\" class=\"hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text\" style=\"\" data-hs-cos-general-type=\"meta_field\" data-hs-cos-type=\"text\" >E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?</span>","language":"en","lastEditSessionId":null,"lastEditUpdateId":null,"layoutSections":{},"legacyBlogTabid":137640,"legacyId":102723,"legacyPostGuid":"db0475b9-7cf4-4dfe-9d81-9977df5370cb","linkRelCanonicalUrl":"","listTemplate":"prox_frontrow/templates/blog/blog-listing.html","liveDomain":"www.frontrowinsurance.com","mab":false,"mabExperimentId":null,"mabMaster":false,"mabVariant":false,"meta":{"page_expiry_redirect_url":null,"meta_keywords":"E&O Insurance, E&O insurance for Films, Film Production Insurance, Film Producers, Film Insurance, Film insurance broker, Film Production, Film Insurance claims, Producers Err","blog_publish_instant_email_task_uid":"DONE","use_featured_image":true,"page_expiry_redirect_id":null,"author_user_id":4012692,"rss_email_by_text":"By","style_override_id":null,"preview_image_src":null,"keywords":[],"featured_image":"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg","page_redirected":null,"campaign_name":null,"post_summary":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n</div>","has_user_changes":true,"attached_stylesheets":[],"unpublished_at":null,"author_email":"nedia@frontrowinsurance.com","topic_ids":[949708774,949708809,949708814,949708904,949708924,949708959,949709454],"page_expiry_date":null,"rss_email_comment_text":"Comment &raquo;","blog_publish_instant_email_campaign_id":null,"blog_publish_instant_email_retry_count":0,"personas":[],"css":{},"campaign_utm":null,"footer_html":"","meta_description":"Errors and omissions insurance: learn about production formats and how much of yours is copyright-able. Guest blog post by lawyer Doran Chandler.","performable_url":null,"author_username":"nedia@frontrowinsurance.com","blueprint_id":0,"rss_email_click_through_text":"Read more &raquo;","placement_guids":[],"css_text":"","rss_summary":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n</div>","legacy_blog_tabid":137640,"cloned_from":null,"head_html":"","page_expiry_enabled":null,"blog_post_schedule_task_uid":null,"post_body":"<span id=\"hs_cos_wrapper_post_body\" class=\"hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_rich_text\" style=\"\" data-hs-cos-general-type=\"meta_field\" data-hs-cos-type=\"rich_text\" ><div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n<!--more--><p><img src=\"http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/61352/file-14870271-jpg/images/doran.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"DORAN CHANDLER Lawyer\" class=\"alignLeft\" style=\"float: right; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 16px;\">Whenever a producer or writer dreams up a <a href=\"/articles/can-an-idea-be-copyrighted\" rel=\"noopener\">new idea</a> for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.</p>\n<p>A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, <a href=\"https://ca.vlex.com/vid/hutton-v-cbc-680878977\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation</em></a>, sheds some light on the issue.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of \"dramatic conceit\" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, <em>Star Charts</em>, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.</p>\n<p>The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_Knocks_(British_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Opportunity Knocks</em></a>, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a \"dramatic format\" were too uncertain for copyright protection.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Survivor</em></a> and <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Big Brother</em></a> formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.</p>\n<p>Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the <a href=\"/articles/what-is-a-trade-mark\" rel=\"noopener\">trademark</a> office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more <a href=\"/sectors/e-o-insurance/\" title=\"copyright protection\" target=\"_self\">copyright protection</a> than anonymity.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<h3>RELATED LINKS:</h3>\n<p><a href=\"/errors-omissions-insurance-101\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O Insurance 101 &amp; How to Protect Your Film Project</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/eo-what-filmmakers-need-to-know\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: What You Need to Know</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/66030/film-and-tv-producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-cost\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Cost</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-quote-are-you-being-offered-the-right-coverage-for-your-needs\" rel=\" noopener\">Are you paying for the coverage you need?</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/24691/steps-to-obtain-errors-and-ommissions-insurance-for-films\" rel=\" noopener\">Steps to Obtain</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/protecting-your-script\" rel=\" noopener\">Producer Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-insurance-best-practices-when-reviewing-scripts\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Reviewing Scripts</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/109689/distributor-s-errors-and-omissions-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Distributor Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-what-is-my-distributor-and-financer-asking-for\" rel=\" noopener\">Documentary E&amp;O Insurance</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/copyright-reports-use-them-to-minimize-the-potential-of-a-producers-eo-claim\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Reports</a></p>\n<p>How much of your film is copyright-able?</p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/103438/e-o-acquire-proper-permission-before-you-eat-at-mcd-or-drink-a-c\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Infringements</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/10796/title-reports-who-needs-them-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Title Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/26544/script-insurance-clearance-reports-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important\" rel=\" noopener\">Script Clearance Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/27709/film-eo-insurance-clearances-procedures-for-film-producers-part-1-of-3\" rel=\" noopener\">Clearance Procedures</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/107141/film-insurance-e-o-claims-made-policies-vs-occurrence-policies\" rel=\" noopener\">Claims Made vs. Occurrence</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/filmmakers-insurance-part-i\" rel=\" noopener\">Fair Use</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/broadcasting-film-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">False Light Accusations</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/102480/eo-insurance-for-film-and-tv-the-value-of-a-lawyer\" rel=\" noopener\">The value of a lawyer</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/how-can-you-make-a-film-like-the-social-network-without-getting-permission-from-mark-zuckerbergyour-blog-post-title-here\" rel=\" noopener\">To get or not get permission: The Social Network</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/bid/107690/obtaining-e-o-insurance-for-your-film-production-and-preventing-litigation\" rel=\" noopener\">A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&amp;O insurance and preventing litigation</a></p>\n</div></span>","publish_immediately":true,"html_title":"E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?","blog_publish_to_social_media_task":"DONE","rss_body":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n<!--more--><p><img src=\"http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/61352/file-14870271-jpg/images/doran.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"DORAN CHANDLER Lawyer\" class=\"alignLeft\" style=\"float: right; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 16px;\">Whenever a producer or writer dreams up a <a href=\"/articles/can-an-idea-be-copyrighted\" rel=\"noopener\">new idea</a> for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.</p>\n<p>A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, <a href=\"https://ca.vlex.com/vid/hutton-v-cbc-680878977\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation</em></a>, sheds some light on the issue.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of \"dramatic conceit\" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, <em>Star Charts</em>, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.</p>\n<p>The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_Knocks_(British_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Opportunity Knocks</em></a>, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a \"dramatic format\" were too uncertain for copyright protection.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Survivor</em></a> and <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Big Brother</em></a> formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.</p>\n<p>Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the <a href=\"/articles/what-is-a-trade-mark\" rel=\"noopener\">trademark</a> office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more <a href=\"/sectors/e-o-insurance/\" title=\"copyright protection\" target=\"_self\">copyright protection</a> than anonymity.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<h3>RELATED LINKS:</h3>\n<p><a href=\"/errors-omissions-insurance-101\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O Insurance 101 &amp; How to Protect Your Film Project</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/eo-what-filmmakers-need-to-know\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: What You Need to Know</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/66030/film-and-tv-producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-cost\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Cost</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-quote-are-you-being-offered-the-right-coverage-for-your-needs\" rel=\" noopener\">Are you paying for the coverage you need?</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/24691/steps-to-obtain-errors-and-ommissions-insurance-for-films\" rel=\" noopener\">Steps to Obtain</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/protecting-your-script\" rel=\" noopener\">Producer Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-insurance-best-practices-when-reviewing-scripts\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Reviewing Scripts</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/109689/distributor-s-errors-and-omissions-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Distributor Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-what-is-my-distributor-and-financer-asking-for\" rel=\" noopener\">Documentary E&amp;O Insurance</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/copyright-reports-use-them-to-minimize-the-potential-of-a-producers-eo-claim\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Reports</a></p>\n<p>How much of your film is copyright-able?</p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/103438/e-o-acquire-proper-permission-before-you-eat-at-mcd-or-drink-a-c\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Infringements</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/10796/title-reports-who-needs-them-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Title Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/26544/script-insurance-clearance-reports-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important\" rel=\" noopener\">Script Clearance Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/27709/film-eo-insurance-clearances-procedures-for-film-producers-part-1-of-3\" rel=\" noopener\">Clearance Procedures</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/107141/film-insurance-e-o-claims-made-policies-vs-occurrence-policies\" rel=\" noopener\">Claims Made vs. Occurrence</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/filmmakers-insurance-part-i\" rel=\" noopener\">Fair Use</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/broadcasting-film-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">False Light Accusations</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/102480/eo-insurance-for-film-and-tv-the-value-of-a-lawyer\" rel=\" noopener\">The value of a lawyer</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/how-can-you-make-a-film-like-the-social-network-without-getting-permission-from-mark-zuckerbergyour-blog-post-title-here\" rel=\" noopener\">To get or not get permission: The Social Network</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/bid/107690/obtaining-e-o-insurance-for-your-film-production-and-preventing-litigation\" rel=\" noopener\">A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&amp;O insurance and preventing litigation</a></p>\n</div>","legacy_post_guid":"db0475b9-7cf4-4dfe-9d81-9977df5370cb","featured_image_alt_text":"Copyright: How much of your production's format is copyrightable?","enable_google_amp_output_override":false,"last_edit_session_id":null,"last_edit_update_id":null,"tag_ids":[949708774,949708809,949708814,949708904,949708924,949708959,949709454],"link_rel_canonical_url":"","published_by_id":7915797,"published_at":1664477150434,"scheduled_update_date":0,"layout_sections":{},"public_access_rules_enabled":false,"public_access_rules":[],"featured_image_height":371,"featured_image_width":600,"header":null},"metaDescription":"Errors and omissions insurance: learn about production formats and how much of yours is copyright-able. Guest blog post by lawyer Doran Chandler.","metaKeywords":"E&O Insurance, E&O insurance for Films, Film Production Insurance, Film Producers, Film Insurance, Film insurance broker, Film Production, Film Insurance claims, Producers Err","name":"<span id=\"hs_cos_wrapper_name\" class=\"hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text\" style=\"\" data-hs-cos-general-type=\"meta_field\" data-hs-cos-type=\"text\" >E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?</span>","nextPostFeaturedImage":"https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/61352/helicopter-filming-forweb.jpg","nextPostFeaturedImageAltText":"Helicopter filming sea: Helicopter Film Insurance","nextPostName":"Helicopter Film Insurance: Protect your production against a crash","nextPostSlug":"articles/articles/bid/103371/helicopter-film-insurance-protect-your-production-against-a-crash","pageExpiryDate":null,"pageExpiryEnabled":null,"pageExpiryRedirectId":null,"pageExpiryRedirectUrl":null,"pageRedirected":false,"pageTitle":"E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?","parentBlog":{"absoluteUrl":"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles","allowComments":true,"ampBodyColor":"#404040","ampBodyFont":"'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif","ampBodyFontSize":"18","ampCustomCss":"","ampHeaderBackgroundColor":"#ffffff","ampHeaderColor":"#1e1e1e","ampHeaderFont":"'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif","ampHeaderFontSize":"36","ampLinkColor":"#416bb3","ampLogoAlt":"Front Row Insurance logo","ampLogoHeight":63,"ampLogoSrc":"https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/61352/front-row-logo.png","ampLogoWidth":175,"analyticsPageId":137640,"attachedStylesheets":[],"audienceAccess":"PUBLIC","businessUnitId":null,"captchaAfterDays":7,"captchaAlways":false,"categoryId":3,"cdnPurgeEmbargoTime":null,"closeCommentsOlder":0,"commentDateFormat":"medium","commentFormGuid":"7a447743-bbf2-4b55-a759-b405bf392a7d","commentMaxThreadDepth":3,"commentModeration":true,"commentNotificationEmails":["mike@frontrowinsurance.com","grant@frontrowinsurance.com"],"commentShouldCreateContact":true,"commentVerificationText":"","cosObjectType":"BLOG","created":1401900293000,"createdDateTime":1401900293000,"dailyNotificationEmailId":"952268096","dateFormattingLanguage":"en_US","defaultGroupStyleId":"","defaultNotificationFromName":"","defaultNotificationReplyTo":"","deletedAt":0,"description":"The Front Row Insurance Blog where you can learn and converse about all things entertainment insurance related.","domain":"","domainWhenPublished":"www.frontrowinsurance.com","emailApiSubscriptionId":283237,"enableGoogleAmpOutput":true,"enableSocialAutoPublishing":false,"generateJsonLdEnabled":false,"header":null,"htmlFooter":"<!-- DELTA-->","htmlFooterIsShared":false,"htmlHead":"<!-- Blog Schema by Front Row Insurance // https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/ -->\n\n<script type=\"application/ld+json\">\n {\n \"@context\": \"http://schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"BlogPosting\",\n \"mainEntityOfPage\":{\n \"@type\":\"WebPage\",\n \"@id\":\"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles/articles/bid/102723/e-o-insurance-how-much-of-your-productions-format-is-copyright-able\"\n },\n \"headline\": \"E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?\",\n \"image\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg\"\n },\n \"datePublished\": \"2012-02-27 22:19:00\",\n \"dateModified\": \"\",\n \"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"') }}\"\n },\n \"publisher\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"FRONT ROW INSURANCE BROKERS\",\n \"logo\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/61352/images/Logos/FR_logo_%5BConverted,-Inverted%5D.png\"\n }\n },\n \"description\": \"Errors and omissions insurance: learn about production formats and how much of yours is copyright-able. Guest blog post by lawyer Doran Chandler.\"\n }\n </script>\n <!-- End Schema --> \n<script type=\"text/javascript\">\n window._mNHandle = window._mNHandle || {};\n window._mNHandle.queue = window._mNHandle.queue || [];\n medianet_versionId = \"3121199\";\n</script>\n<script src=\"https://contextual.media.net/dmedianet.js?cid=8CU76IWTZ\" async=\"async\"></script>","htmlHeadIsShared":true,"htmlKeywords":["Front Row Insurance Blog"," entertainment blog"," film blog"," film insurance"," event insurance"," film festival blog"," production blog"," musicians blog"," "],"htmlTitle":"The Front Row View (entertainment insurance blog)","id":952267656,"instantNotificationEmailId":"952268061","itemLayoutId":null,"itemTemplateIsShared":false,"itemTemplatePath":"prox_frontrow/templates/blog/blog-post.html","label":"The Front Row View (entertainment insurance blog)","language":"en","legacyGuid":"469ce2ec-4dd9-442d-984a-3bab2557a02f","legacyModuleId":"164112","legacyTabId":137640,"listingLayoutId":null,"listingPageId":70026589976,"listingTemplatePath":"prox_frontrow/templates/blog/blog-listing.html","liveDomain":"www.frontrowinsurance.com","monthFilterFormat":"MMMM yyyy","monthlyNotificationEmailId":"952267981","name":"The Front Row View (entertainment insurance blog)","parentBlogUpdateTaskId":null,"portalId":61352,"postHtmlFooter":"<!-- OMEGA-->","postHtmlHead":"<!-- Blog Schema by Front Row Insurance // https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/ -->\n\n<script type=\"application/ld+json\">\n {\n \"@context\": \"http://schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"BlogPosting\",\n \"mainEntityOfPage\":{\n \"@type\":\"WebPage\",\n \"@id\":\"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles/articles/bid/102723/e-o-insurance-how-much-of-your-productions-format-is-copyright-able\"\n },\n \"headline\": \"E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?\",\n \"image\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg\"\n },\n \"datePublished\": \"2012-02-27 22:19:00\",\n \"dateModified\": \"\",\n \"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"') }}\"\n },\n \"publisher\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"FRONT ROW INSURANCE BROKERS\",\n \"logo\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/61352/images/Logos/FR_logo_%5BConverted,-Inverted%5D.png\"\n }\n },\n \"description\": \"Errors and omissions insurance: learn about production formats and how much of yours is copyright-able. Guest blog post by lawyer Doran Chandler.\"\n }\n </script>\n <!-- End Schema --> \n<script type=\"text/javascript\">\n window._mNHandle = window._mNHandle || {};\n window._mNHandle.queue = window._mNHandle.queue || [];\n medianet_versionId = \"3121199\";\n</script>\n<script src=\"https://contextual.media.net/dmedianet.js?cid=8CU76IWTZ\" async=\"async\"></script>","postsPerListingPage":10,"postsPerRssFeed":10,"publicAccessRules":[{"ids":[],"type":"LIST_MEMBERSHIP"}],"publicAccessRulesEnabled":false,"publicTitle":"The Front Row View (entertainment insurance blog)","publishDateFormat":"medium","resolvedDomain":"www.frontrowinsurance.com","rootUrl":"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles","rssCustomFeed":"","rssDescription":"RSS feeds for ","rssItemFooter":"<IMG style=\"WIDTH: 144px; HEIGHT: 78px\" title=\"\" border=0 alt=\"\" align=center src=\"http://focusinsurance.web6.hubspot.com/Portals/61352/images//logo_final.jpg\" width=138 height=78 mce_src=\"/Portals/61352/images//logo_final.jpg\">","rssItemHeader":"","settingsOverrides":{"itemLayoutId":false,"itemTemplatePath":false,"itemTemplateIsShared":false,"listingLayoutId":false,"listingTemplatePath":false,"postsPerListingPage":false,"showSummaryInListing":false,"useFeaturedImageInSummary":false,"htmlHead":false,"postHtmlHead":false,"htmlHeadIsShared":false,"htmlFooter":false,"listingPageHtmlFooter":false,"postHtmlFooter":false,"htmlFooterIsShared":false,"attachedStylesheets":false,"postsPerRssFeed":false,"showSummaryInRss":false,"showSummaryInEmails":false,"showSummariesInEmails":false,"allowComments":false,"commentShouldCreateContact":false,"commentModeration":false,"closeCommentsOlder":false,"commentNotificationEmails":false,"commentMaxThreadDepth":false,"commentVerificationText":false,"socialAccountTwitter":false,"showSocialLinkTwitter":false,"showSocialLinkLinkedin":false,"showSocialLinkFacebook":false,"enableGoogleAmpOutput":false,"ampLogoSrc":false,"ampLogoHeight":false,"ampLogoWidth":false,"ampLogoAlt":false,"ampHeaderFont":false,"ampHeaderFontSize":false,"ampHeaderColor":false,"ampHeaderBackgroundColor":false,"ampBodyFont":false,"ampBodyFontSize":false,"ampBodyColor":false,"ampLinkColor":false,"generateJsonLdEnabled":false},"showSocialLinkFacebook":true,"showSocialLinkLinkedin":true,"showSocialLinkTwitter":true,"showSummaryInEmails":true,"showSummaryInListing":false,"showSummaryInRss":true,"siteId":0,"slug":"articles","socialAccountTwitter":"","state":null,"subscriptionContactsProperty":"blog_blog_the_front_row_view_subscription","subscriptionEmailType":null,"subscriptionFormGuid":"a2c254df-2214-4c54-bd51-46da1e3029fb","subscriptionListsByType":{"daily":12,"instant":11,"monthly":10,"weekly":13},"title":null,"translatedFromId":null,"translations":{"fr":{"absoluteUrl":"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/fr/blogue","id":2471031463,"language":"fr","masterId":952267656,"name":"The Front Row View (entertainment insurance blog)","publicAccessRules":[{"ids":[],"type":"LIST_MEMBERSHIP"}],"publicAccessRulesEnabled":false,"slug":"fr/blogue"}},"updated":1650089754719,"updatedDateTime":1650089754719,"urlBase":"www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles","urlSegments":{},"useFeaturedImageInSummary":true,"usesDefaultTemplate":false,"weeklyNotificationEmailId":"952268106"},"password":null,"pastMabExperimentIds":[],"performableGuid":"","performableVariationLetter":null,"personas":[],"placementGuids":[],"portableKey":null,"portalId":61352,"position":null,"postBody":"<span id=\"hs_cos_wrapper_post_body\" class=\"hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_rich_text\" style=\"\" data-hs-cos-general-type=\"meta_field\" data-hs-cos-type=\"rich_text\" ><div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n<!--more--><p><img src=\"http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/61352/file-14870271-jpg/images/doran.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"DORAN CHANDLER Lawyer\" class=\"alignLeft\" style=\"float: right; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 16px;\">Whenever a producer or writer dreams up a <a href=\"/articles/can-an-idea-be-copyrighted\" rel=\"noopener\">new idea</a> for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.</p>\n<p>A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, <a href=\"https://ca.vlex.com/vid/hutton-v-cbc-680878977\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation</em></a>, sheds some light on the issue.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of \"dramatic conceit\" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, <em>Star Charts</em>, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.</p>\n<p>The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_Knocks_(British_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Opportunity Knocks</em></a>, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a \"dramatic format\" were too uncertain for copyright protection.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Survivor</em></a> and <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Big Brother</em></a> formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.</p>\n<p>Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the <a href=\"/articles/what-is-a-trade-mark\" rel=\"noopener\">trademark</a> office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more <a href=\"/sectors/e-o-insurance/\" title=\"copyright protection\" target=\"_self\">copyright protection</a> than anonymity.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<h3>RELATED LINKS:</h3>\n<p><a href=\"/errors-omissions-insurance-101\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O Insurance 101 &amp; How to Protect Your Film Project</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/eo-what-filmmakers-need-to-know\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: What You Need to Know</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/66030/film-and-tv-producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-cost\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Cost</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-quote-are-you-being-offered-the-right-coverage-for-your-needs\" rel=\" noopener\">Are you paying for the coverage you need?</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/24691/steps-to-obtain-errors-and-ommissions-insurance-for-films\" rel=\" noopener\">Steps to Obtain</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/protecting-your-script\" rel=\" noopener\">Producer Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-insurance-best-practices-when-reviewing-scripts\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Reviewing Scripts</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/109689/distributor-s-errors-and-omissions-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Distributor Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-what-is-my-distributor-and-financer-asking-for\" rel=\" noopener\">Documentary E&amp;O Insurance</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/copyright-reports-use-them-to-minimize-the-potential-of-a-producers-eo-claim\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Reports</a></p>\n<p>How much of your film is copyright-able?</p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/103438/e-o-acquire-proper-permission-before-you-eat-at-mcd-or-drink-a-c\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Infringements</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/10796/title-reports-who-needs-them-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Title Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/26544/script-insurance-clearance-reports-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important\" rel=\" noopener\">Script Clearance Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/27709/film-eo-insurance-clearances-procedures-for-film-producers-part-1-of-3\" rel=\" noopener\">Clearance Procedures</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/107141/film-insurance-e-o-claims-made-policies-vs-occurrence-policies\" rel=\" noopener\">Claims Made vs. Occurrence</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/filmmakers-insurance-part-i\" rel=\" noopener\">Fair Use</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/broadcasting-film-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">False Light Accusations</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/102480/eo-insurance-for-film-and-tv-the-value-of-a-lawyer\" rel=\" noopener\">The value of a lawyer</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/how-can-you-make-a-film-like-the-social-network-without-getting-permission-from-mark-zuckerbergyour-blog-post-title-here\" rel=\" noopener\">To get or not get permission: The Social Network</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/bid/107690/obtaining-e-o-insurance-for-your-film-production-and-preventing-litigation\" rel=\" noopener\">A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&amp;O insurance and preventing litigation</a></p>\n</div></span>","postBodyRss":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n<!--more--><p><img src=\"http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/61352/file-14870271-jpg/images/doran.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"DORAN CHANDLER Lawyer\" class=\"alignLeft\" style=\"float: right; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 16px;\">Whenever a producer or writer dreams up a <a href=\"/articles/can-an-idea-be-copyrighted\" rel=\"noopener\">new idea</a> for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.</p>\n<p>A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, <a href=\"https://ca.vlex.com/vid/hutton-v-cbc-680878977\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation</em></a>, sheds some light on the issue.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of \"dramatic conceit\" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, <em>Star Charts</em>, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.</p>\n<p>The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_Knocks_(British_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Opportunity Knocks</em></a>, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a \"dramatic format\" were too uncertain for copyright protection.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Survivor</em></a> and <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Big Brother</em></a> formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.</p>\n<p>Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the <a href=\"/articles/what-is-a-trade-mark\" rel=\"noopener\">trademark</a> office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more <a href=\"/sectors/e-o-insurance/\" title=\"copyright protection\" target=\"_self\">copyright protection</a> than anonymity.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<h3>RELATED LINKS:</h3>\n<p><a href=\"/errors-omissions-insurance-101\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O Insurance 101 &amp; How to Protect Your Film Project</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/eo-what-filmmakers-need-to-know\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: What You Need to Know</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/66030/film-and-tv-producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-cost\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Cost</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-quote-are-you-being-offered-the-right-coverage-for-your-needs\" rel=\" noopener\">Are you paying for the coverage you need?</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/24691/steps-to-obtain-errors-and-ommissions-insurance-for-films\" rel=\" noopener\">Steps to Obtain</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/protecting-your-script\" rel=\" noopener\">Producer Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-insurance-best-practices-when-reviewing-scripts\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Reviewing Scripts</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/109689/distributor-s-errors-and-omissions-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Distributor Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-what-is-my-distributor-and-financer-asking-for\" rel=\" noopener\">Documentary E&amp;O Insurance</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/copyright-reports-use-them-to-minimize-the-potential-of-a-producers-eo-claim\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Reports</a></p>\n<p>How much of your film is copyright-able?</p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/103438/e-o-acquire-proper-permission-before-you-eat-at-mcd-or-drink-a-c\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Infringements</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/10796/title-reports-who-needs-them-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Title Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/26544/script-insurance-clearance-reports-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important\" rel=\" noopener\">Script Clearance Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/27709/film-eo-insurance-clearances-procedures-for-film-producers-part-1-of-3\" rel=\" noopener\">Clearance Procedures</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/107141/film-insurance-e-o-claims-made-policies-vs-occurrence-policies\" rel=\" noopener\">Claims Made vs. Occurrence</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/filmmakers-insurance-part-i\" rel=\" noopener\">Fair Use</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/broadcasting-film-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">False Light Accusations</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/102480/eo-insurance-for-film-and-tv-the-value-of-a-lawyer\" rel=\" noopener\">The value of a lawyer</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/how-can-you-make-a-film-like-the-social-network-without-getting-permission-from-mark-zuckerbergyour-blog-post-title-here\" rel=\" noopener\">To get or not get permission: The Social Network</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/bid/107690/obtaining-e-o-insurance-for-your-film-production-and-preventing-litigation\" rel=\" noopener\">A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&amp;O insurance and preventing litigation</a></p>\n</div>","postEmailContent":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\"> \n <p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p> \n</div>","postFeaturedImageIfEnabled":"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg","postListContent":"<span id=\"hs_cos_wrapper_post_body\" class=\"hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_rich_text\" style=\"\" data-hs-cos-general-type=\"meta_field\" data-hs-cos-type=\"rich_text\" ><div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n<!--more--><p><img src=\"http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/61352/file-14870271-jpg/images/doran.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"DORAN CHANDLER Lawyer\" class=\"alignLeft\" style=\"float: right; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 16px;\">Whenever a producer or writer dreams up a <a href=\"/articles/can-an-idea-be-copyrighted\" rel=\"noopener\">new idea</a> for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.</p>\n<p>A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, <a href=\"https://ca.vlex.com/vid/hutton-v-cbc-680878977\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation</em></a>, sheds some light on the issue.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of \"dramatic conceit\" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, <em>Star Charts</em>, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.</p>\n<p>The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_Knocks_(British_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Opportunity Knocks</em></a>, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a \"dramatic format\" were too uncertain for copyright protection.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Survivor</em></a> and <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Big Brother</em></a> formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.</p>\n<p>Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the <a href=\"/articles/what-is-a-trade-mark\" rel=\"noopener\">trademark</a> office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more <a href=\"/sectors/e-o-insurance/\" title=\"copyright protection\" target=\"_self\">copyright protection</a> than anonymity.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<h3>RELATED LINKS:</h3>\n<p><a href=\"/errors-omissions-insurance-101\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O Insurance 101 &amp; How to Protect Your Film Project</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/eo-what-filmmakers-need-to-know\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: What You Need to Know</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/66030/film-and-tv-producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-cost\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Cost</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-quote-are-you-being-offered-the-right-coverage-for-your-needs\" rel=\" noopener\">Are you paying for the coverage you need?</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/24691/steps-to-obtain-errors-and-ommissions-insurance-for-films\" rel=\" noopener\">Steps to Obtain</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/protecting-your-script\" rel=\" noopener\">Producer Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-insurance-best-practices-when-reviewing-scripts\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Reviewing Scripts</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/109689/distributor-s-errors-and-omissions-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Distributor Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-what-is-my-distributor-and-financer-asking-for\" rel=\" noopener\">Documentary E&amp;O Insurance</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/copyright-reports-use-them-to-minimize-the-potential-of-a-producers-eo-claim\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Reports</a></p>\n<p>How much of your film is copyright-able?</p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/103438/e-o-acquire-proper-permission-before-you-eat-at-mcd-or-drink-a-c\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Infringements</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/10796/title-reports-who-needs-them-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Title Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/26544/script-insurance-clearance-reports-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important\" rel=\" noopener\">Script Clearance Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/27709/film-eo-insurance-clearances-procedures-for-film-producers-part-1-of-3\" rel=\" noopener\">Clearance Procedures</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/107141/film-insurance-e-o-claims-made-policies-vs-occurrence-policies\" rel=\" noopener\">Claims Made vs. Occurrence</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/filmmakers-insurance-part-i\" rel=\" noopener\">Fair Use</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/broadcasting-film-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">False Light Accusations</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/102480/eo-insurance-for-film-and-tv-the-value-of-a-lawyer\" rel=\" noopener\">The value of a lawyer</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/how-can-you-make-a-film-like-the-social-network-without-getting-permission-from-mark-zuckerbergyour-blog-post-title-here\" rel=\" noopener\">To get or not get permission: The Social Network</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/bid/107690/obtaining-e-o-insurance-for-your-film-production-and-preventing-litigation\" rel=\" noopener\">A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&amp;O insurance and preventing litigation</a></p>\n</div></span>","postListSummaryFeaturedImage":"","postRssContent":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\"> \n <p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p> \n</div>","postRssSummaryFeaturedImage":"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg","postSummary":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n</div>","postSummaryRss":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\"> \n <p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p> \n</div>","postTemplate":"prox_frontrow/templates/blog/blog-post.html","previewImageSrc":null,"previewKey":"30BvY5kR","previousPostFeaturedImage":"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/post-production/post-production-studios-flood-protection-forweb600.jpg","previousPostFeaturedImageAltText":"10 Tips to Prevent Water Damage to Your Post-Production Facility","previousPostName":"10 Tips to Prevent Water Damage to Your Post-Production Facility","previousPostSlug":"articles/articles/bid/102658/post-production-insurance-10-tips-to-prevent-water-damage-to-your-facility","processingStatus":"PUBLISHED","propertyForDynamicPageCanonicalUrl":null,"propertyForDynamicPageFeaturedImage":null,"propertyForDynamicPageMetaDescription":null,"propertyForDynamicPageSlug":null,"propertyForDynamicPageTitle":null,"publicAccessRules":[{"ids":[],"type":"LIST_MEMBERSHIP"}],"publicAccessRulesEnabled":false,"publishDate":1330381140000,"publishDateLocalTime":1330381140000,"publishDateLocalized":{"date":1330381140000,"format":"medium","language":"en_US"},"publishImmediately":true,"publishTimezoneOffset":null,"publishedAt":1664477150434,"publishedByEmail":null,"publishedById":7915797,"publishedByName":null,"publishedUrl":"https://www.frontrowinsurance.com/articles/articles/bid/102723/e-o-insurance-how-much-of-your-productions-format-is-copyright-able","resolvedDomain":"www.frontrowinsurance.com","resolvedLanguage":null,"rssBody":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n<!--more--><p><img src=\"http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/61352/file-14870271-jpg/images/doran.jpg\" border=\"0\" alt=\"DORAN CHANDLER Lawyer\" class=\"alignLeft\" style=\"float: right; margin-top: 3px; margin-bottom: 16px;\">Whenever a producer or writer dreams up a <a href=\"/articles/can-an-idea-be-copyrighted\" rel=\"noopener\">new idea</a> for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.</p>\n<p>A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, <a href=\"https://ca.vlex.com/vid/hutton-v-cbc-680878977\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation</em></a>, sheds some light on the issue.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of \"dramatic conceit\" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, <em>Star Charts</em>, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.</p>\n<p>The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_Knocks_(British_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Opportunity Knocks</em></a>, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a \"dramatic format\" were too uncertain for copyright protection.</p>\n<p>Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Survivor</em></a> and <a href=\"https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother_(American_TV_series)\" rel=\"nofollow noopener\"><em>Big Brother</em></a> formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.</p>\n<p>Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the <a href=\"/articles/what-is-a-trade-mark\" rel=\"noopener\">trademark</a> office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more <a href=\"/sectors/e-o-insurance/\" title=\"copyright protection\" target=\"_self\">copyright protection</a> than anonymity.&nbsp;</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<h3>RELATED LINKS:</h3>\n<p><a href=\"/errors-omissions-insurance-101\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O Insurance 101 &amp; How to Protect Your Film Project</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/eo-what-filmmakers-need-to-know\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: What You Need to Know</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/66030/film-and-tv-producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-cost\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Cost</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-errors-and-omissions-insurance-quote-are-you-being-offered-the-right-coverage-for-your-needs\" rel=\" noopener\">Are you paying for the coverage you need?</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/24691/steps-to-obtain-errors-and-ommissions-insurance-for-films\" rel=\" noopener\">Steps to Obtain</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/protecting-your-script\" rel=\" noopener\">Producer Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-insurance-best-practices-when-reviewing-scripts\" rel=\" noopener\">E&amp;O: Reviewing Scripts</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/109689/distributor-s-errors-and-omissions-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Distributor Errors and Omissions</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/producers-eo-what-is-my-distributor-and-financer-asking-for\" rel=\" noopener\">Documentary E&amp;O Insurance</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/copyright-reports-use-them-to-minimize-the-potential-of-a-producers-eo-claim\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Reports</a></p>\n<p>How much of your film is copyright-able?</p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/103438/e-o-acquire-proper-permission-before-you-eat-at-mcd-or-drink-a-c\" rel=\" noopener\">Copyright Infringements</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/10796/title-reports-who-needs-them-e-o-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">Title Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/26544/script-insurance-clearance-reports-what-are-they-and-why-are-they-important\" rel=\" noopener\">Script Clearance Reports</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/27709/film-eo-insurance-clearances-procedures-for-film-producers-part-1-of-3\" rel=\" noopener\">Clearance Procedures</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/107141/film-insurance-e-o-claims-made-policies-vs-occurrence-policies\" rel=\" noopener\">Claims Made vs. Occurrence</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/filmmakers-insurance-part-i\" rel=\" noopener\">Fair Use</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/broadcasting-film-insurance\" rel=\" noopener\">False Light Accusations</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/articles/bid/102480/eo-insurance-for-film-and-tv-the-value-of-a-lawyer\" rel=\" noopener\">The value of a lawyer</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/how-can-you-make-a-film-like-the-social-network-without-getting-permission-from-mark-zuckerbergyour-blog-post-title-here\" rel=\" noopener\">To get or not get permission: The Social Network</a></p>\n<p><a href=\"/articles/bid/107690/obtaining-e-o-insurance-for-your-film-production-and-preventing-litigation\" rel=\" noopener\">A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&amp;O insurance and preventing litigation</a></p>\n</div>","rssSummary":"<div class=\"hs-migrated-cms-post\">\n<p style=\"text-align: right; font-size: 14px;\"><em>By:&nbsp;<strong>Doran S. Chandler - </strong><span style=\"font-weight: normal;\">Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation</span></em></p>\n</div>","rssSummaryFeaturedImage":"https://61352.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/61352/blog-image-uploads/copyright-shutterstock_760349158-forweb600.jpg","scheduledUpdateDate":0,"screenshotPreviewTakenAt":1664477150743,"screenshotPreviewUrl":"https://cdn1.hubspot.net/hubshotv3/prod/e/0/23960143-e23b-4efe-98cf-a593df8d6276.png","sections":{},"securityState":"NONE","siteId":0,"slug":"articles/articles/bid/102723/e-o-insurance-how-much-of-your-productions-format-is-copyright-able","stagedFrom":null,"state":"PUBLISHED","stateWhenDeleted":null,"styleOverrideId":null,"subcategory":"legacy_blog_post","syncedWithBlogRoot":true,"tagIds":[949708774,949708809,949708814,949708904,949708924,949708959,949709454],"tagList":[{"categoryId":0,"cdnPurgeEmbargoTime":null,"contentIds":[],"cosObjectType":"TAG","created":1401901715000,"deletedAt":0,"description":"","id":949708774,"label":"Film insurance","language":"en","name":"Film 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E&O Insurance - How much of your production's format is copyrightable?

Copyright: How much of your production's format is copyrightable?

By: Doran S. Chandler - Chandler Fogden Aldous Law Corporation

DORAN CHANDLER LawyerWhenever a producer or writer dreams up a new idea for a television show, it doesn't take long for them to start worrying about someone pinching it and beating them to the punch. This is especially true in the case of news programs, game shows, and other reality based productions. Such productions are relatively inexpensive to produce and consist mainly of material with a questionable footing in copyright. This makes it accessible to a large number of producers and difficult to pitch and develop without tipping off competitors about a potential new trend.

A somewhat odd corollary to this is that the value of television formats has grown exponentially in recent years with the widespread licensing of formats to broadcasters or production companies in foreign markets. As a result, many producers want to know what they can borrow from existing programs, and whether they can protect what they have created. Only one notable Canadian case, Hutton v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, sheds some light on the issue. 

In Hutton, the Alberta courts considered whether the format of a music video magazine show could be copyrighted. The courts held that concepts and devices generally present in shows of the same genre were not protect-able, such as the mood of the hosts, the presentation of biographical materials, interviews, and the use of TV monitors in the set design. The courts also considered the use of infinity shots, bumpers and teasers to commercials, the use of montages, and the use of transitions like dissolves and back-to-back video playbacks, finding that these elements could not in themselves be protected. One characteristic the trial court found protect-able at trial were elements of "dramatic conceit" in the programs, or the entertainment fictions used to create drama in each program. The trial judge ultimately found that the plaintiff's show, Star Charts, was not a dramatic work within s.2 of the Copyright Act and thus not capable of being copyrighted. On Appeal, the Alberta court de-emphasized the idea that dramatic conceit was protect-able and held simply that the works were not qualitatively similar and did not have any causal connection between them.

The end result of Hutton is that, while we have some idea about what Canadian courts will consider when evaluating a format, we don't really have a clear guideline for what is required to achieve a protect-able format. Adding to the uncertainty is that different standards of protection have emerged in other jurisdictions. In one case considering the copyright-ability of the format for Opportunity Knocks, a prominent UK copyright judge held that the elements of a "dramatic format" were too uncertain for copyright protection.

Meanwhile, courts in Holland and Brazil have granted protection to the Survivor and Big Brother formats, respectively, finding that copyright can subsist in the meticulous combination of individually unprotect-able elements in a format. Together, these decisions leave producers intending to rely on a specific format on shaky ground. Given that the legal right to use or to keep others from using a given format is unpredictable at best, it is a good idea to take some precautions when developing a show. One important security measure is to pitch your concept formally in conference using confidentiality agreements. Another useful precaution is to document and distinguish your concept with as much detail as possible, including the use of specific music, timing, camera angles and set design.

Registering distinctive slogans and catch phrases with the trademark office can offer protection, as can registering your detailed synopsis with the copyright office. Lastly, advertise your production as aggressively as possible because a strong market presence will always attract more copyright protection than anonymity. 

 

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