Legally Speaking, It Depends – Ownership of Things

ownership of thingsBy: , ScriptMag:   It is easy to be complacent when creating new works and put off thinking about just who ends up owning the end results of all that hard labor. It is understandable, especially in arenas as complex and collaborative as the film industry, where tons of items necessary for the production process are created in the course of constructing the main thing as well as all the ancillary products to be fashioned spinning off from from when the main object comes into existence. But there are some unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences that can easily arise if ignored. The end results could have disastrous outcomes for those who “think” they own it all and act accordingly.

The Elements of Film

Scripts in all their various versions, screenplay notes, revisions, treatments, outlines and all the paperwork they entail or inspire are usually the first in a long line of created materials that are not the end goal creation when striving to make a movie. We have already discussed some of the ownership issues about scripts and how handling them properly is key to exploitation of rights down the road. But they are just the first objects on the road.

Storyboards, costume designs, pre-vis, props, set designs, construction, and a host of other objects and artwork are made because of the goal film but are not end results unto themselves. Their creation is integral to the final product, but the fact that they are created by someone, means there is an ownership value and control that has to be accounted for, if they are to be fully exploited as intended.

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