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

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

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Ready for Prime Time: RELEASING AND Broadcasting your Finished Film

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.

Tags: false light and E and O, invasion of privacy and filming, E&O Policy for producers, E&O copyright report, Film E&O, title clearance, media liability insurance policy, Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance, HD E&O, Producers E&O Insurance, Producers Errors & Omissions Liability Insurance, Multimendia Risk

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

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

 

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

“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.

Tags: E&O Insurance for producers, producers errors and omissions quote, media liability insurance policy, Digital E&O insurance, Fair Use for Documentaries

Storm Damage and your Media Insurance Policy

Posted by David Hamilton on Dec 15, 2014 1:15:30 PM

Now that the storm is over it is time to check your media insurance policy.

After it is confirmed by authorities that  it is safe to go outdoors, you can begin to assess any potential damage. If you have property damage, you should report your claim as soon as possible. The Travelers Insurance company recommends, the more information you can provide when you report the loss, the better they can begin their response. However, if you have missing information but have sustained damage, please report your claim in any event.

Storm Damage Media Insurance

  1. Stay inside and make sure everyone is safe. Stay tuned to the radio or television until an official "all clear" is given (if you were evacuated, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so.
  2. Avoid downed power lines. Never touch anything in contact with power lines, including water or water puddles that may be near the downed power lines.
  3. Protect property from further damage. Board up broken windows at your production office, studio or filming location to protect against vandalism or additional weather damage. Arrange for reasonable temporary repairs
  4. Keep accurate expense records. Save bills and materials receipts from your temporary repairs. (Do not make permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster has reviewed the damage.) Also, keep accurate records of other expenses incurred.
  5. Separate and inventory the damaged property. Write a list of any damaged contents. Include the item description, name of the manufacturer, the brand name, age, the place and date of purchase, if known. Use any photographs, videotapes or personal property inventories you may already have to help

STORM DAMAGE AND YOUR FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE POLICY - Read more

If you have any questions about your media liability insurance policy, please call us aFront Row Insurance Brokers – the film insurance experts.

Tags: Insurance for weather, Storm damage film production insurance, media liability insurance policy, media insurance policy

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