Contracts, Part 2 and Remedies & Compensation. Producers of Motion Pictures need to have many, many contracts given all the moving parts for a major production. Even smaller productions require quite a few significant legal agreements: optioning the literary work, unless it’s an original work of the filmmaker; securing rights to talent; securing rights to a composer or to individual songs, if putting together a compilation soundtrack; understanding union agreements required by the WGA or DGA and/or SAG/AFTRA. Probably the most significant issue will be financing agreements as the risks associated with motion pictures are very high and the return very, very speculative Can contracts be discharged in bankruptcy? In Re Taylor (this is James Taylor who was in Kool & the Gang, not the other James Taylor) and In Re Watkins (a member of TLC) Each case involves an attempt to end their contracts in bankruptcy.
Assignment: Read these two cases and write a paragraph or two about discharging contracts by declaring bankruptcy. Is this fair? Can you find other artists, actors film companies or creatives who used bankruptcy as a weapon?
Remedies and Compensation/”Hollywood Accounting!” We will look at some of the issues surrounding payments (or the failure of payments) and lawsuits that have resulted. We will also explore other remedies in legal disputes: Specific Performance, “Quantum Meruit” Negative Injunctions. We will examine the following cases: Buchwald v. Paramount Pictures – this is actually a series of 3 cases involving humorist Art Buchwald’s attempt to get paid for “Coming to America”; Batfilm Productions v. Warner Bros.; Parker v. 20th Century Fox Film Corp., This Is Me, Inc. v. Taylor; Student Law firm presentation on Buchwald and other compensation cases including Batfilm and others. Accountings often are the subject of bitter fights between artists/producers and the studio they are working for and between recording artists and their record companies. A new accounting debate is brewing in on-demand streaming where a French company, Deezer, has announced they will use a “user-centric” accounting method which many feel will be more fair to independent and smaller artists. Other services like Spotify and Apple have not adopted this method and use a more generic “rough justice” approach.
Assignment: See if you can find an article that discusses the user-centric accounting method. Briefly describe it’s purported advantages. What, if any, are its downside?
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