The threshold question for a producer who intends to produce a biographical film of a public figure is whether he should try to obtain a release of the subject or produce the film without publication under his First Amendment rights. As I have tried to point out, there is no such thing as an “iron” release, but a properly negotiated and drafted agreement can be beneficial. “The general rule, nationally, is that the First Amendment will control narrative fiction,” said attorney John L. Geiger, who has written countless life agreements for his film and television clients. “The concept of the rights to life is really an inappropriate term because no one has the facts that make up the narrative of their life.” So you`re ready to go ahead with your new project and get an LRA, this seems like the next logical step. What else? If you are interested in getting an LRA, you should consult a lawyer. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the terms of an agreement and advise you on your specific situation. Several critically acclaimed documentaries have been released over the past year, focusing on some of the most influential artists of the last century, including Marlon Brando (Listen To Me Marlon), Kurt Cobain (Montage of Heck), Nina Simone (What Happened, Miss Simone?) and Amy Winehouse (Amy). The involvement of the subject`s estate or family in the creation of these films ranged from Kurt Cobain`s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, as executive producer of Brett Morgens Montage of Heck to Mitch Winehouse, who spoke about her first collaboration with Asif Kapadias Amy. To talk about navigating through life rights and estates, we sat down with Lisa Callif, an entertainment lawyer and partner at the Los Angeles law firm of Donaldson + Callif, and Stevan Riley, writer, editor and director behind Listen To Me Marlon, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and is currently running in theaters on Showtime and Universal. The only causes of action that a celebrity or public figure has against the use of their name, likeness or life story in non-commercial speech are false light or slander.
In the Bobby Seale case, while some events in the “Panther” movie were fictional, the court ruled that the film did not misreaten Seale or depict slander, although Seale tried to argue both points. However, the court ruled that Seale`s name and likeness on a CD referring to the film represented commercial use of his name and likeness and was prohibited without publication. Keep in mind that there are clear benefits to guaranteeing the life rights of a data subject, regardless of the legal analysis, e.B., this can encourage the person to give a producer more substantial information to improve the project, and it will reduce the risk of denial or invasion of privacy by the person (avoiding a significant amount of time and legal costs). There is case law that states that, in certain cases, no right to life is to be acquired under the First Amendment; However, it is better for a producer to analyze their specific situation and make an informed decision. For example, if there is an agreement with a person, it becomes easier for a production company to take out error and omission insurance. Right to publicity: A subject has the right to control the use of his or her identity in commercial environments. A subject`s identity largely includes their name, image, voice, and, to a lesser extent, any other specific characteristics that define the subject. In general, your fictitious account does not violate a subject`s right to post because you are protected by First Amendment free speech. For this discussion on the right to life, a violation of the right to publicity of the subject occurs mainly in connection with the marketing and advertising of your work.
Limit the use of the subject`s name as much as possible and do not use their image unless absolutely necessary. .