James Cameron's Avatar and E&O Insurance
Shutterstock: Royalty-free stock photo ID: 698349049
TV and Film Producers E&O protects producers from unfounded claims ALLEGING misappropriation of film story ideas.
Avatar is a movie that was released in 2009. Most people think James Cameron came up with it, including James Cameron. Until one day a man spoke out and claimed that he pitched this multi-award winning movie to Cameron. Sounds like a case where Producer’s Errors & Omissions insurance might come into play.
Apparently the two had a meeting in the early nineties, and it was at this meeting that Cameron, also known as the director of TERMINATOR decided to start getting movie ideas from someone he barely knew. Not likely! As the Judge put it: Cameron’s ideas before 1991 included “transporting consciousness to another form, evil mercenaries attempting to exploit resources in a jungle-ike setting, a jungle containing bioluminescent plants and unusual animals, a protagonist fighting alongside natives against a superior fighting force and a sentient planet.”
Since the plaintiffs claims appear to be somewhat frivolous, let’s take a look at producer’s errors & omissions insurance and see how it would help in this situation. Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance covers legal liability and defense for the production company against lawsuits alleging unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism, unfair competition or privacy, breach of contract (implied-in-fact). It also protects against alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy. This coverage will usually be required by a distributor, broadcaster or financier prior to the release of any theatrical or television production.
Production financing will usually not flow until Producers E&O coverage is in force. When quoting Producer’s Errors and Omissions insurance on a film project, we always ask if the producers have “Title Clearance” and if they have done their legal due diligence to make sure they aren’t engaging in copyright infringement. In the case of Avatar, Cameron would have had to represent on the Producers E&O application that to the best of his knowledge he was not willfully copying someone else’s work. In the event of a lawsuit, the insurance carrier will cover defense costs associated with the suit.
In addition, the Producers E&O will even pay for rulings against the E&O policy holder. If, however, the client has misrepresented a fact or committed a crime, the Producer’s Errors and Omissions policy becomes void. Film and TV Producers Errors and Omissions insurance is a worthwhile investment if you're a film producer.