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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!

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Old October 8th, 2007, 01:07 AM   #1
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Someone asked me the other day a question I didn't have an answer to. They'd like to make a short film based on a book written in the early 70's (and was made into an obscure foreign film that flopped), both are long out of print, and the movie only made it to limited VHS release back then. This story was apparently a favorite of theirs, and they'd like to make their own version of it.

Any idea on how they'd go about obtaining the rights to do it legally? I'd know how if the book were still in print, or the movie were intended as a remake - track down the publishing and/or distribution company and author. But this is from a story written over 35 years ago and long ago forgotten.
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Old October 8th, 2007, 02:10 AM   #2
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You'd have to figure out who actually owns the rights. If the original author optioned or sold the rights to another party, they may have sold that to someone else. And they may or may not have reverted back to the author (depending on what's in their contract).

If you want to sell your film, you will likely need errors & omissions (E&O) insurance (they pay for it). You'll need to purchase the rights and have a lawyer establish the "chain of title" based on whom the rights got sold to and the details of the contract.

Sometimes the chain of title can be murky.

2- Anyways you would need to track down who actually owns the rights. The author may or may not have them. The production company may or may not have them.

2b- The production company definitely had the rights at one time, so it's worth talking to them??

3- This is as far as I know anyways, and I could definitely be wrong.
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Old October 9th, 2007, 04:17 PM   #3
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Glen is absolutely right about tracing chain-of-title -- it can be very difficult. It's possible, but unlikely, that the production company owns the rights. Usually, they would obtain a license for a specific production, only, as well as the right to distribute that production in all media, known and unknown. I'd start with the book's publisher.
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