Our winter newsletter is here!

Posted by David Hamilton on Feb 12, 2019 12:10:27 PM

pug-1210025_1920 (stay warm)

CLICK HERE to see the latest news from Front Row. 

Topics: Film Insurance, E&O Insurance, DICE Insurance, event insurance, art school insurance, Actor body insurance

PROTÉGÉ: Insurance custom-made for arts education

Posted by David Hamilton on Feb 5, 2019 4:49:03 PM

ballet photo

Protégé: Insurance for Art Schools

Does your art school work with an insurance brokerage that has specialized knowledge of the arts and entertainment community, and that understands the specific needs of an arts organization?

Protégé is an insurance product custom-designed for art schools by Front Row Insurance Brokers. The program grew organically out of our longstanding engagement with the arts community. We realized that creators are also educators, and that our clients needed an insurance product that could cover their workshops, summer camps, and training seminars. We wanted to create a policy that helps foster creative expression, one that protects teachers and students alike, that helps create safe spaces to learn, where students can take risks, challenge each other, and grow with confidence.

Coverages available include:

  • Studio Property
  • Business Continuity
  • Bodily injury & Property Damage Liability
  • Educators Errors & Omissions
  • Property off Premise
  • Event Cancellation
  • Abuse Liability

Protégé is one of the few policies to offer abuse coverage. Should the unthinkable occur, we have a team of experts in crisis management that can help you navigate the difficult legal and emotional challenges of allegations of misconduct. But more importantly, we’re proactive. We work with you to develop risk management strategies. For example, we can consult on background checks, or the spatial arrangement of rooms, traffic flows, or scheduling. We want to prevent potential hazards from ever happening in the first place, so that students, staff, and parents can build confidence and trust in each other.

That’s why we partnered with Ecclesiastical, one of the top Insurers worldwide for private schools and cultural institutions. They are an insurance company notable for their outstanding goodwill. Owned by a charitable trust, they donate all their annual profits to charities. They have over 120 years of experience, and world-class resources that are made available to you through Protégé.

Protégé is insurance made for creatives by creatives. What? Insurance can be creative! At Front Row, we like to think of ourselves as part of the ecology of arts and entertainment. We don’t just provide services to the arts community – we’re an integral part of it. Give us a call and find out how Protégé can help protect your most valuable asset: the next generation of artists.

Pricing begins at $600 for a small school. To learn more, click here.

About Front Row Insurance Brokers
Front Row Insurance is an independent, Canadian-owned brokerage, specializing in film, television and performing arts insurance. The brokerage has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, New York, LA and Nashville. Their technical expertise, market leverage and commitment to fair and timely claims settlements has always set them apart from their competitors. http://www.frontrowinsurance.com

Topics: E&O Insurance, music school insurance, art school insurance, film school insurance, dance school insurance, abuse insurance

E&O: What Filmmakers Need to Know

Posted by David Hamilton on Jan 9, 2019 4:59:44 PM

E&O: WHAT FILMMAKERS NEED TO KNOW

E&O insurance

As a filmmaker your top priority is likely bringing your next production to life and maintaining creative inspiration, but you also know how important the business side of film production is.

This includes understanding the legal and insurance requirements needed to protect your next film. Insurance is a critical part of the film business, especially E&O (Errors and Omissions). If you understand what E&O is and how it can actually serve your production needs, you’ll set your next film up for even greater success.

Here’s how:

GETTING TO KNOW E&O

Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance covers all of the potential legal liabilities and defense costs against lawsuits alleging unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism, unfair competition or privacy, and breach of contract. It also protects against alleged libel, slander, defamation of character or invasion of privacy. Errors & Omissions is a requirement for distribution deals with studios, television, cable networks, DVD and Internet sites prior to the release of any film production. In fact, if you haven’t released a film yet, you’ll discover that production financing will probably not flow until your E&O coverage is in force.

HOW IT WORKS

Consider the risks: You’ve released a film that is a HUGE success, and someone accuses you of stealing their idea, or script. No surprise, this happens a lot. For example, after AVATAR was released in 2009, a man spoke out and claimed that he had actually pitched this multi award winning movie to AVATAR Producer, James Cameron a few years earlier. An E&O policy would provide a lawyer in this instance and would pay the legal fees and judgement costs if the filmmaker lost.

Planning an online production? YouTube is a hot bed for E&O disputes. A while back, a music video director posted a parody of a well known movie that went viral, garnering over 1 million views, but unfortunately he didn’t have E&O and the video was taken down as he could not afford the legal costs. A big loss for him and one he could have avoided if he had obtained E&O coverage.

WHAT E&O COSTS

Premiums for E&O vary based on the content of the production. A straight forward documentary typically cost $2,500 to $4,000 while you can expect to pay $3,500 to $8,000 for a feature film for the industry standard 3-5 year policy term. Every project is unique and requires a custom E&O policy. Standard limits are $1,000,000 per claim/$3,000,000 aggregate with a deductible of $10,000. Ideally, speak to an E&O insurance expert who can advise on the risks related to your particular film. We’d love to help with that.

YOUR NEXT STEPS

  1. The first thing an insurance provider will ask you is: Do you have “Title and script Clearance”? This is a way to discover if you’ve done your legal due diligence to make sure you aren’t engaging in copyright infringement and that you have the right to use the story and title. As you set out to obtain E&O, as a filmmaker you must begin clearance work prior to principal photography, continue during filming and complete it at final cut. Note: It can take up to 10 working days for a project to be cleared and coverage to be in place so you’ll want to start the E&O process early to ensure that your cash flow is not impacted.
  2. Once obtained, be sure to check your production/distribution/financing agreements regarding the start date for your coverage, as some financiers require Errors & Omissions coverage to be in place for the first day of production before they will provide the first cheque that allows you to start production.
  3. Your E&O policy will provide defense costs if the producer is sued and will pay the judgment costs if the producer is found liable. Until a lawsuit happens, enjoy peace of mind knowing you’ve got the right coverage in place.

About the contributor: David Hamilton is President + CEO of Front Row Insurance, one of the world’s largest entertainment insurance brokers. Front Row offers E&O insurance for filmmakers. E&O Policies start at $1,250 and certificates proving insurance coverage are provided immediately at no cost.

 

RELATED LINKS:

E&O Insurance 101 & How to Protect Your Film Project

E&O: What You Need to Know

E&O: Cost

Are you paying for the coverage you need?

Steps to Obtain

Producer Errors and Omissions

E&O: Reviewing Scripts

Distributor Errors and Omissions

Documentary E&O Insurance

Copyright Reports

How much of your film is copyright-able?

Copyright Infringements

Title Reports

Script Clearance Reports

Clearance Procedures

Claims Made vs. Occurrence

Fair Use

False Light Accusations

The value of a lawyer

To get or not get permission: The Social Network

A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&O insurance and preventing litigation

Topics: E&O Insurance

ART SCHOOL INSURANCE THAT PROTECTS STUDENTS FROM ABUSE? INTRODUCING PROTÉGÉ

Posted by David Hamilton on Nov 27, 2018 11:56:13 AM

shutterstock_76986013 (cropped)

If you’re running an art school, then we don’t need to tell you the amount of passion, drive, and dedication required to run a school and coach students to success. We probably don’t need to tell you this also brings a huge amount of responsibility for the well-being of your students, who are often young and in close relationships with their teachers.

As you consider how to run your school in a way that BEST protects your students from physical and sexual abuse, consider our Protégé program.

Protégé is the only insurance program of its kind that goes the extra mile to protect art schools AND their students from situations related to sexual and physical abuse. Along with all of the other insurance requirements your school needs, Protégé provides the highest level of support and protection for your students. This is our passion.

We’ve become known for our expertise in guiding many arts organizations through difficult claims involving abuse, and helping schools implement measures that prevent situations of abuse in the first place. Here’s how our Protégé program goes the extra mile for schools and students:

  1. In situations where there are allegations of abuse, Protégé can pay for no-fault rehab and counselling costs. 
  2. In situations resulting in damage to studio/school property, Protégé covers the costs for owned and rented property damages.
  3. In liability situations, Protégé covers bodily injuries to people that have been invited to the studio.
  4. To support business continuity, Protégé pays the salaries of your staff if the studio is destroyed while you are searching for a new space.
  5. Re: errors and omissions, Protégé covers costs if students aren’t satisfied with the curriculum.

When you sign up for the Protégé program, you’ll receive our deep experience in putting preventative safeguards in place that will help prevent situations of abuse from happening in the first place. We’ll walk you through all the areas of your business protocols to help you put systems in place that better protect students.

Pricing begins at $600 for a small school. To learn more, click here.

 

About Front Row Insurance Brokers
Front Row Insurance is an independent, Canadian-owned brokerage, specializing in film, television and performing arts insurance. The brokerage has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, New York, LA and Nashville. Their technical expertise, market leverage and commitment to fair and timely claims settlements has always set them apart from their competitors. http://www.frontrowinsurance.com

Topics: E&O Insurance, music school insurance, art school insurance, film school insurance, dance school insurance, abuse insurance

Filmmakers and Producers Insurance

Posted by David McLeish on Nov 5, 2018 12:18:55 PM

film producers insurance

film producers insurance

Let’s Make Art Together.

You’re a prolific filmmaker with a full production slate. Like most creative people, you‘d rather focus on your work. The problem is that since each project requires its own insurance policy, it often feels like the more you work, the more time you have to spend dealing with insurance!

Worse, while you’ve always received good service from your broker, they don’t quite “get” what it is you do. It’s a hassle getting certificates for your vendors and cast and crew. Too many irrelevant questions are asked by the underwriter. When something unusual comes up like a drone shoot or stunts, there are delays. There has to be a better way.

Luckily, there is. Unlike most insurance professionals in Canada, we specialize in the business of entertainment insurance. It’s not just what we do, and what we’re good at; it’s what we’re passionate about.

Front Row Insurance Brokers is the largest entertainment insurance brokerage by premium volume in Canada, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York.

In 2017, we insured over $4 billion of productions worldwide and wrote more than $45 million in film premium. The 38 dedicated film insurance staff in our Canadian offices are experts in TV and film production, so you know you’ll be dealing with someone who understands what you do. Even better, we have staff licensed in every province.

Filming in sunny Saskatchewan? No problem, we’ll get you covered. Perhaps most importantly, as part of our commitment to exceptional service, we will work hard to ensure that the money owed to you is paid if you ever need to make a claim under your policy.

Moreover, our excellent working relationship with the five major companies writing entertainment insurance in Canada ensures that you get more than just the best rates. It also affords us the opportunity to design studio programs which offer coverage tailored to the unique needs of your production slate. A studio program is a custom policy designed by the broker working in concert with the insurer. The advantage to you is that it’s designed around your specific production slate. You won’t have to pay for coverage you don’t require, and your policy will be customized for you by experts in entertainment insurance who understand your needs. Some examples of the benefits available under a studio program include:

  • No cast medicals required for film budgets under $15,000,000, rendering it unnecessary to schedule and attend tedious doctor exams, and saving you the $130 exam fee.
  • Automatic coverage for test shoots, promo shoots, pilots for budgets up to $50,000: no need to call us.
  • Quotations provided immediately for any new project. Rates locked for 12 months. Coverage can be activated and certificates issued on the same day for office rentals, payroll, etc.
  • Insurance wherever you film

Let us leverage your production slate, combined with our premium volume, for your advantage. We pride ourselves on being the simplest line item on your budget—fast, without the drama.

We can also offer you a Low-Claims Bonus: ask us how.

Topics: Film Insurance, E&O Insurance, Cast Insurance, helicopter film insurance, Storm damage film production insurance, Flood insurance for Film, student film production insruance, short term film video production insurance, Chubb Film insurance, Film and entertainment insurance, Film permission, Film Production Vehicle Insurance, automobile insurance for films, production liability insurance for films, Public Liability Insurance for Film, Film equipment rental insurance, Workers Compensation, insurance for film set, Film Extra Expense, film school insurance

Filmmakers and Insurance: What Moves You

Posted by Casey Budden on Nov 5, 2018 11:59:13 AM

Movie fans in theatre.


What Moves You?

More than 100 years after their invention, “moving pictures” still seem to command our collective imagination. We often have very personal emotional attachments to movies: we say that certain films inspired us, moved us, shaped our childhood, shocked us, or opened our minds.

What is unique about the medium of film? What explains this continuing fascination despite all the other technological delectations our age offers up? Is it because film promises us a total escape from the everyday? Provides deep insight into the human condition? Or is it simply good entertainment?

Probably, it’s all of the above. 2017’s total box office results were the highest in history, with over $39 billion in takings worldwide despite the fact that public attention is more divided than ever, with video games, streaming services, and downloads all vying for a slice of their entertainment dollars. Clearly, movies aren’t going anywhere.

What is changing is the way content is delivered. Creators are both rapidly influencing, and being influenced by, new technologies. This is not anything new: the history of film is one of periodic disruption followed by renewal in response to the changing tastes of audiences.

Early “talkies,” which began to appear in the mid-to-late 1920s, were often compared uncharitably to earlier, silent films. Critics often felt that the spoken dialogue made for tawdry, artistically inferior pictures. Audiences loved them, however, and by the early 1930s, the majority of films were being produced with sound.

Starting around the same time and lasting until the late 1940s was the Hollywood “studio system”—a system of production characterized by complete vertical integration of the production process. The studio system totally dominated filmmaking during this period. Studios “owned” talent, cast was repertory, and filming was done mainly on elaborate sets or backlots rather than on location. Props and sets were also frequently recycled through various productions. Many venues were owned by studios, who could thus control when, where, and for how long a film screened. Theatres that were not studio-owned were subject to a practice called “block booking” in which they were required to take on and screen entire slates of lesser-quality films from a studio in order to obtain screening rights to a single anticipated hit. (This is where the term “B movie” comes from).

As might be expected, this arrangement provided steady and reliable revenue for the studios. The big stars of the time were household names. Studios were nicknamed “Dream Factories” due to their ability to quickly churn out genre favorites—westerns, musicals, romances. Fantasy and spectacle were favored over realism, and audiences gobbled them up. But new technology was already sowing the seeds of change: the rapidly growing popularity of television, as well as a landmark antitrust case in 1948 which forbade studios from owning movie theatres and curtailed the practice of block booking, placed the film business on shaky ground by mid-century. The severe slump which ensued was not truly reversed until 1972, the year The Godfather was released.

The collapse of the studio system was both good and bad. As major studios were no longer guaranteed a theatrical release for their films, they became more risk-averse, tending to focus on properties they knew would make money. On the other hand, the proliferation of smaller studios and the uncoupling of distribution from production allowed many up-and-coming directors to make their mark. The 1970s ushered in the emergence of a raft of American auteur directors—Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, and Stanley Kubrick among them. These directors were influenced by European art-house cinema of the 50s and 60s and approached filmmaking with a markedly different aesthetic. Their films featured greater realism and frequently controversial subject matter. Like their European contemporaries from decades past, more scenes were shot on location. Dialogue was less frequently dubbed. Increased emphasis was placed on characterization and dialogue.

Simultaneously, and progressing in a completely opposite artistic direction, another trend was taking shape: the “Hollywood blockbuster.” Designed to maximize ticket sales for large studios, these films featured larger-than-life spectacle and action, supported by cutting-edge technology and special effects. Star Wars (1977) represents the most obvious example of this phenomenon. Audiences flocked to the cinema for the first time in decades to be part of an experience they could not replicate with equipment available at home. The modern action-adventure spectacle was born (and continues, in the guise of the ubiquitous superhero movie).

The 1980s accelerated these changes in filmmaking. Major studios could no longer afford to back a loser, so often doubled down on grand special-effects laden productions that audiences would be guaranteed to love, or else reliable franchises such as Rocky, Rambo, Indiana Jones, Friday the 13th,, A Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. The advent of home video technologies such as VHS and Betamax meant that a significant proportion of a film’s income now came not from box office, but home video revenues. This further opened up the playing field, as it was now economically viable for a small independent producer to market their film “direct-to-video” and make a profit.

Cut to the present day where, in addition to the multiplex, you can now watch a film on your phone, tablet, smart TV, portable music player, or game console. Streaming services are the latest disruptive innovation and have changed the way episodic TV content, for example, is presented (no more “previously on…” and no more commercials). It’s arguably never been easier for a creator to get their work out there.

Audiences flocked to the “dream factories” of the Golden Age of Cinema because there’s no magic like film magic. This hasn’t changed, and we don’t think it ever will. Film is the only medium that has the ability to inspire both our intellects and our hearts while completely engaging our senses.

At Front Row Insurance, we are “Passionate about the arts…better at insurance.” We love creatives and the creative work that they do. That’s what moves us. What moves you? Whatever it is, we probably have a policy that will suit you. Contact us.

Topics: E&O Insurance, Film and entertainment insurance, Public Liability Insurance for Film, Film Location Insurance, insurance for film set, Film Extra Expense, educational film production insurance, film school insurance, pre production insurance for filmmakers

Multimedia Insurance Coverage

Posted by David McLeish on Oct 27, 2018 3:05:00 PM

shutterstock_785222245

Thanks to the Internet, Everyone Has Seen your Movie.

Your intrepid film managed to weather the entire production process without any hiccups—bravo! Now that the theatrical run is over, it’s time to bequeath the film to posterity in the form of home video and TV rebroadcasts. Safe enough, right?

In fact, the “tail” of a movie’s lifespan is no less exposed to potential claims than any other phase. As the film is released to home video and dissected on the internet, every scene and every word of dialogue will be scrutinized. As more sets of eyes see your film, the likelihood of a nuisance lawsuit unfortunately increases. For example:

  • Unauthorized use of logos can elicit legal action from the corporations that own them
  • Inclusion of identifiable faces in crowd scenes can prompt legal action
  • Misappropriation of name or likeness can cause a lawsuit to be brought

Multimedia risk insurance (or “Producer’s Errors & Omissions [‘E&O’] Coverage) offers protection against these kinds of lawsuits, including alleged unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism, unfair competition or privacy, and breach of contract. Distributors normally require that this coverage be in place prior to distribution simply because of the myriad of unpredictable risks a film can face in the distribution phase.

As a filmmaker, you want to be able to focus on doing just that—making films. Wouldn’t you like to rest easy once you’re finished? Ensure your production is protected from the idea phase to the home video phase so you can concentrate on what you do best.

Contact us – we can help.

Topics: E&O Insurance, Multimedia Risk Insurance

E&O Insurance Protects Against Invasion of Privacy and False Light

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 26, 2018 7:10:24 AM

E&O Film Insurance & False Light Accusations

False light accusations

You’ve made it! After much hard work, your film is finished and being widely screened in theatres. Audiences love it, and very positive reviews have appeared in several notable publications. Pride and excitement are the order of the day as everyone involved enjoys the fruits of their labor. Extreme care was taken in the production, so you’re shocked when you’re informed that a lawsuit has been brought against you for invasion of privacy.

Invasion of privacy is a serious risk to which filmmakers are exposed, and it’s difficult to anticipate all possible sources of legal action.

Imagine this scenario:

Your movie is an adaptation of a well-known book—let’s say, a roman a clef about a Canadian rail disaster. Due to the length of the book and the demands of the feature film format, some artistic license necessarily had to be taken and the book was heavily adapted from the original. This is not unusual, but unfortunately an actual person recognized himself in one of your characters and took serious issue with the way he was depicted.

Claims of this sort are fairly common and fall under the rubric of “false light” accusations. The typical argument is that a specific characterization is unflattering and transparent enough that the average member of the public can easily deduce who it is based upon. In other words, the party in question has been presented “in a false light.”

Let’s also consider a second scenario:

Your film is a documentary about the Canadian boxing world. You’re very careful about securing releases from all parties discussed in your film and all recognizable persons who appear in the background. You’re confident that you’ve taken all necessary precautions, but you still receive notice that one of the fighters discussed has initiated a lawsuit against you for public disclosure of embarrassing facts. While your depiction was accurate, your film included some discussion of the fighter’s life after the boxing world and went into detail about a failed business venture. The party concerned considers this information embarrassing and not relevant to the subject of the documentary.

What can be done?

Generally, claims of invasion of privacy are more successful if the plaintiff can argue that:

  • The subject matter would be highly offensive to a reasonable person
  • The information is not of legitimate concern to the public (i.e., the information is not newsworthy).

It’s obvious that these terms are highly subjective. What constitutes “highly offensive?” Who is this fabled “reasonable person?” And what exactly is of “legitimate concern” to the public? Even when extreme care has been used, a lawsuit is sometimes unavoidable.

A Producers’ Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance Policy Is The Best Protection.

The last thing you want is to face a costly lawsuit after your film has already been released. An Errors & Omissions policy protects the entire lifespan of your project against situations such as the above, by helping arrange a legal defense against:

  • Allegations of unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism
  • Allegations of libel, slander, and defamation of character
  • Allegations of invasion of privacy

Contact us for more information.

 

RELATED LINKS:

E&O Insurance 101 & How to Protect Your Film Project

E&O: What You Need to Know

E&O: Cost

Are you paying for the coverage you need?

Steps to Obtain

Producer Errors and Omissions

E&O: Reviewing Scripts

Distributor Errors and Omissions

Documentary E&O Insurance

Copyright Reports

How much of your film is copyright-able?

Copyright Infringements

Title Reports

Script Clearance Reports

Clearance Procedures

Claims Made vs. Occurrence

Fair Use

False Light Accusations

The value of a lawyer

To get or not get permission: The Social Network

A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&O insurance and preventing litigation

Topics: E&O Insurance, media liability insurance policy, title clearance, invasion of privacy and filming

Fair Use Misconceptions and Filmmaker E&O Insurance Part II

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 24, 2018 12:52:59 PM

FAIR GAME? - A FAIR USE PRIMER FOR DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS (Part 2)

Fair use part 2

Applicable to US-based producers only

Not all uses of copyrighted material in your documentary will require you to obtain permission from the copyright holder. If you can argue that your use of the material in question meets the criteria to be considered fair use, it may be acceptable.

However, if you’re still not sure how to figure out if your chosen use of the material will pass the test or not; there’s still a lot of grey area. Below, we will attempt to shed some light on some common misconceptions about fair use.

  • If I only use a few seconds of the underlying work, I should be okay.” The logic behind this is easy to follow and, as discussed in our previous article, there is some truth to it. The more you borrow from a previous creator, the more likely a lawsuit—it’s more likely the rights holder will take notice, and more likely that they’ll feel their commercial interests have been impaired. However, the proportion of the original work that is used is just one of a myriad of factors a judge would consider in the event of a copyright dispute.
  • “I got it from the Internet, so it should be free to use.” This misconception is less common than it used to be, but still exists. In its early days, the Internet was thought of as a kind of “Wild West” where the traditional legal frameworks didn’t necessarily apply. Today, as the Web becomes more sophisticated and ubiquitous, we know that’s no longer true. The general legal understanding now is that the moment a work is fixed in a particular creative medium, copyright exists. For example, technically speaking, a copyright exists the moment a person takes a photograph. For that reason, when making use of copyrighted material from the internet, the documentary filmmaker must exercise a level of care equivalent to that used when considering the use of any other type of copyrighted material.
  • “I’m using copyrighted material, but it’s okay because I gave credit to the author.” It may seem like this is just common sense—how could anyone claim that you’ve ripped off their work if you openly attribute it to them? In reality, this is not an automatic defense. In fact, a court of law could argue that by giving credit to the author, you are implicitly acknowledging that the material in question belongs to them. Without knowing it, you may also be tacitly validating their claim of ownership (and potentially their claim of infringement). This is not to say that giving credit to the owners of copyrighted material is not the right thing to do (it is), just that doing so in itself is not a complete defense against claims of copyright infringement.
  • “I need to ask permission from the copyright holder first.” Referring back to #3 above, you’ll recall that a rights holder might actually interpret your request for permission, in itself, as a sign that infringement has taken place (“if you’re asking me for permission, you already know you don’t have the right to use it”). Another perfectly logical assumption that does not necessarily hold in the complicated landscape of copyright issues. If your use of the copyrighted material in question already falls within the definition of fair use, you are not required to obtain permission from the rights holder first.

Sound complicated? It is. As we’ve shown, although the law does provide some latitude for documentary filmmakers to use copyrighted materials in a new creative work, there are a lot of issues to consider. An understanding of fair use is an invaluable tool for the documentary filmmaker, but is not sufficient to keep your production safe. You’ll also need an errors & omissions (E&O) policy which will ensure you’re covered in the event that you missed something. Contact us.

Part 1

Topics: E&O Insurance, Fair Use for Documentaries, Fair Use Doctrine

Fair Use and E&O Insurance for Filmmakers - Part 1

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 24, 2018 12:48:02 PM

FAIR GAME? - A FAIR USE PRIMER FOR DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS (Part 1)

Fair use

Applicable to US-based producers only

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” –Isaac Newton

As a documentary filmmaker, you’ll likely need to make use of copyrighted materials at some point in your production. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to avoid: film clips, music and archival interviews are indispensable tools for lending depth, color and authority to your production. However, securing the rights to such materials can be difficult, prohibitively expensive and, most importantly, fraught with potential danger if the rights holders feel that their copyright has been infringed.

For example: you’re making a documentary about Hammer Horror films of the ‘50s and you use a short clip of Christopher Lee baring his fangs. You haven’t obtained permission. Will you be sued?

The legal doctrine of Fair Use permits creators a degree of freedom to incorporate copyrighted works of others into a new creative work. The law recognizes that the rights of copyright holders to enjoy the profits of their creations must be balanced with the rights of creators to enjoy freedom of expression and build upon past works in the creation of their own.

The problem that can sometimes occur is that it can be very difficult to define what constitutes fair use, and rights holders can be aggressive in defending their copyright.

Navigating fair use can be a challenging proposition. It is particularly important to the documentary filmmaker due to the fact that documentarians usually need to use more copyrighted material than, say, the director of a period piece.

There are two important things that you can do as a documentary filmmaker to keep your production safe: understand Fair Use, and purchase Errors & Omissions Insurance. The first will help you avoid being sued; the second will help protect you if you are.

Understanding Fair Use

You want to use a short clip of music or film in your documentary. You might have a limited budget. Traditional wisdom dictates that every piece of copyrighted material needs to be cleared and paid for, but this may not be the case if you can argue that your use of the clip in question constitutes Fair Use. How do judges determine if the use of a given clip is Fair Use in any given situation? The following criteria are considered.

  • What purpose the material is used for. Courts generally hold that a use of copyrighted material which is “transformative” meets the criteria to be considered Fair Use. “Transformative” means that the material is made part of a new creative work, for a purpose and context which are different than the original.
  • The nature of the source material. Factual, non-fiction source material which was created for an academic or educational purpose, with the intention of being strictly informative in nature, is less likely to give rise to a copyright claim if it is presented appropriately.
  • How much of the source material was used. The more of the original work is used, the more likely a lawsuit becomes. For example, musicians are more likely to encounter a problem using a lengthy musical phrase copied from a prior artist than they would be using a single breakbeat or horn blast which may no longer be recognizable as part of a prior creative work.
  • How the use of the source material impacts its value. If the rights holder can argue that their profits, potential profits or the integrity of their brand have been impaired by another’s use of their material, it may provide grounds for litigation. For example, a documentarian making a film about Miles Davis might get away with showing a brief clip of Miles playing, but reproducing an entire 15-minute live performance of him is likely going to attract a lawsuit.

Armed with this information, you might think that these rules are just common sense, and with an abundance of caution a prudent filmmaker might be able to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. However, the reality is not so simple. The second part of this article will discuss some common fair use misconceptions.

Part 2

 

RELATED LINKS:

E&O Insurance 101 & How to Protect Your Film Project

E&O: What You Need to Know

E&O: Cost

Are you paying for the coverage you need?

Steps to Obtain

Producer Errors and Omissions

E&O: Reviewing Scripts

Distributor Errors and Omissions

Documentary E&O Insurance

Copyright Reports

How much of your film is copyright-able?

Copyright Infringements

Title Reports

Script Clearance Reports

Clearance Procedures

Claims Made vs. Occurrence

Fair Use

False Light Accusations

The value of a lawyer

To get or not get permission: The Social Network

A production lawyer's guide to obtaining E&O insurance and preventing litigation

Topics: E&O Insurance, media liability insurance policy, Fair Use for Documentaries

Bobby Smith
Senior Dog Walker
Add a short bio for this team member. Try to keep each of these consistent in scope and format. Most importantly, remember to use your company's voice for this copy. This is the place where folks come to find out who you are as an organization and what kind of people they might be interacting with if they choose to work with you.