Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In this post we’re going to take a look at the legal situation relating to ownership of film productions. This can be a potentially tricky area, as the recent case of Slater v Wimmer, which was covered in this post, demonstrated.

Determining ownership under intellectual property law

When two (or more) persons come together to work on a film production, the issue of the ownership of intellectual property rights should be one of the first things that is talked about. Early agreement on the ownership of copyright can avoid much heartache at a later date. However, this often isn’t the case – the parties involved are often friends, or they don’t want to deal with potentially acrimonious issues, or they just don’t get round to it (or just don’t think of it).

If there is a dispute over who owns the intellectual property in a film production the first thing that should be considered is: “Is there a contract between us and, if so, what are the terms of this contract?”. In this spirit, we’re going to take a look at the following issues:

  1. Is there a contract?
  2. What are the express terms of the contract?
  3. What are the implied terms of the contract?

Is there a contract that deals with the intellectual property law issues?

A contract can be oral or written, express or implied. It’s always safer to get a written contract drawn up but the parties involved often don’t want to involve themselves in the expense of getting a lawyer to draw up such an agreement. That’s fine – and understandable. However, it’s recommended that what the parties agree on (including payments, intellectual property ownership, the scope of the film production, the duties of the parties etc.) is written down in some format so that it can be used if a dispute arises at a later date.

If it is clear from the conduct of the parties that they agreed to embark on a film production together then a contract between them will normally be implied. However, the interesting issue then falls to what the terms of the contract actually are. There can be two “types” of terms in a contract – express and implied.

What are the express terms of the contract?

Express terms can be oral or written. If the terms regarding the ownership of the copyright are written down it obviously makes it easier to determine what they are and act on them at a later date. If the express terms are oral then this makes the situation a little more difficult. If there is a dispute as to oral express terms of the contract then the Court will have to determine what the situation is based upon the particular facts, the evidence of the parties involved, and the conduct of the parties involved.

What are the implied terms of the contract?

Terms regarding the ownership of copyright in a film production can be implied into a contract by both common law and statute.

Terms can be implied under common law by:

  • Usage or custom
  • Previous course of dealings
  • The intention of the parties (with reference to the “business efficacy” or “officious bystander” test”)

Terms relating to the ownership of intellectual property rights can also be implied into the contract through statute – in the case of copyright under s.10 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (“CPDA 1998”). Under s.10 CPDA 1988 the owner of the copyright is the author or creator of the work. Under s.10(1) it is possible for more than one person to be the owner of intellectual property rights in a film production – if the film was made after 1 July 1994 then the owner of the copyright is the producer and the director (unless there is an express agreement otherwise).

Problems with the ownership of film productions

There’s simple ways of avoiding problems relating to the ownership of copyright in a film production: get legal advice and/or make sure that the terms of the agreement are written down, including those relating to the ownership of the intellectual property.

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk

    Testimonials

    4.78 Average

    265 Reviews

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 22 hours ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 22 hours ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 22 hours ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 week ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 week ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 week ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 week ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Zara M

    Rana at Redmans gave me support and confidence I needed to ensure a wrong, was put right. I couldn’t recommend enough.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Stuart T

    Chris provided an excellent service, he was efficient and friendly and I had no doubt when recommending him to my colleagues

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, prompt responses. Chris Hadrill provided excellent and efficient service.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jane M

    Wonderful solicitors who really listen to you and who are there to offer expert legal advice but they also have a personal touch and you really feel supported both from a legal aspect but also from a personal aspect. They really listen .

    Posted 2 weeks ago