Advising a Community Film Group on Copyright Assignment

Jane LambertJane Lambert

22 July 2010

A nationwide charity commissioned a community film group to make a documentary video to assist its work. Shortly before delivery the charity asked the film maker to assign all intellectual property in the project. The film group consulted me on one of my end-of-month clinics in Huddersfield as to whether that was a good idea.

I asked the film makers about authorship – such questions as who had written the voiceovers and made the graphics – whether they had re-used pre-existing material –   whether they had obtained proper consents for such re-use. I asked them about whether they might wish to use any of the material again in other films and how they would use the film to enhance their reputations in the film business. I explained moral rights to them and asked them whether they wanted to asset them.

We agreed that my clients could not just give the charity a blanket assignment without specifying what they could and could not assign, asserting moral rights, seeking a licence back for certain use and imposing conditions upon the assignee. I drafted an agreement for the clients pointing out these things which they sent to the charity.

Upon reflection the charity concluded that an assignment of copyright was not essential to its interests. The film, which is brilliant, was published on DVD. Everyone is happy with the outcome.