IP (Intellectual Property, not Internet Protocol) is the most important element of television or any other kind of media. Thomas Crowell’s book, The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers is a must-read for any telco offering video services. Although his book is fundamentally about what producers need to do to ensure they own all the intellectual property surrounding their film production, it provides a good overview of the content business for those who in some way may have a tertiary involvement in a film’s distribution.
For instance, this book would be useful for technology companies hoping to introduce a new application that might somehow require studio approval or acceptance. Similarly, any telco or cable company hoping to distribute a studio’s content can gain an appreciation for the restrictions placed upon the studios by the film producers and/or actors or copyright holders. The obvious application for this book is local content and Viodi has added this book as part of the curriculum for its Local Content Workshops. The author and his topic have always been popular part of Viodi’s Local Content Workshops.
The writing is excellent and the book is and easy read, as there are many amusing anecdotes to highlight the author’s points. Instead of providing lots of legalese, Crowell explains, in plain English, what should be in various deal points that will end up being part of a contract. He details all of the various contracts that will be required, from model release to distribution agreement, in order to produce a revenue-generating film. The somewhat non-linear approach to the book’s format is well suited for the topic. That is, instead of using footnotes, he references pages and sections of the book with more detailed information on a particular topic.
This format makes it easy to jump from section to section and it truly makes it a book that a producer can put in her knapsack for quick reference as they put together their masterpiece. I could see a future revision where the book expands to cover unique requirements associated with episodic programming and live production. Regardless, this book provides a good framework for any producer, regardless of her distribution media.
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