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Gordon Philip Firemark

Gordon Firemark’s Answers

178 total

  • Who owns the rights to the raw footage of a student produced video for an assignment using school equipment?

    If a student produces a video using school equipment, does the student still own the copyright of the raw footage? The ones that were being filmed like the footage but not the edit. The student does not want to release the footage.

    Gordon’s Answer

    Many film school programs have students sign an agreement that essentially makes the university the owner of the work-product of students created for school assignments. So, step one is check your paperwork with the school.
    Absent such an agreement, the filmmaker is the owner, but this raises lots of questions, most notably, "Which of the student participants is 'The Filmmaker'?"

    Much depends on the intentions of the parties. It is possible that all of the collaborators may be deemed Joint Owners of the film (including the raw footage). It is also possible that the Director, Writer, or even the Camera Operator may be deemed the owner.

    It's important, therefore, to have a written agreement clearly stating the intentions of all who participate in the production process.

    Like the other lawyers answering here, I strongly urge that you consult an attorney to evaluate the entire situation and advise you about your options.

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  • How should I respond to him?

    I am looking for a California attorney that specializes in entertainment law. I am a performing artist who has been working without a written contract with a manager for the last two or three years to help me in television. Most of my work is in t...

    Gordon’s Answer

    There are no set "standards" for manager compensation, but there are customs and practices which can serve as a guide. If your television work is what LED you to have a more vibrant live career, then it's fair to compensate the manager for helping make that happen. But if the two are distinct from each other, perhaps that will influence the commission.

    Ultimately, you'll need to consult with a lawyer having the requisite experience to advise and represent you.

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  • What is the best way to terminate an equal 3rd party member from an LLC?

    This member is treasurer making it difficult to dissolve the position as member. This member is holding onto the articles of organization and checkbook accounts. There have been trust issues. How can we resolve this peacefully and what is a fai...

    Gordon’s Answer

    Step 1 - Check your LLC OPerating Agreement
    Step 2 - If the members have authority to vote another member out, conduct such a vote, following the procedures outlined in the Operating Agreement and/or state law (you probably should hire a lawyer to help draw up the documents for this)
    Step 3 - Notify the ousted member, and provide for buy-out payment as applicable.

    Note that the manner of calculating the amount of buy out payment may be specified in the Operating Agreement, or not. If not, look to state law.

    You may be required to hire an independent appraiser, or you may be able to determine the price from the company's books. Or, you may just need to make an offer, and negotiate a price.

    But don't fool yourself that this will be a "peaceful" process. You're talking about an adversarial thing...ousting a member who's disrupting the business operations. Unless he/she wants out, you're likely in for a fight (or at least a negotiation).

    It's also possible that the only solution will be to seek court action to dissolve the company, and then for you and the other members to form a new entity.

    Over the years, I've handled a few of these, and it's never clean and simple. The best thing you can do is prepare well, so the process encounters as few roadblocks as possible.

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  • If I want to have a free memorial kareoke fan concert in Michael Jackson's name on his birthday, can his estate stop it?

    Since M.J. is a historical / public fig. don't people have a free-speech amendment right to publicly gather to honor him, and can M.J. impersonators legally perform, in a place that has a full Entertainment license, or anyplace? Can they put the...

    Gordon’s Answer

    I recently dealt with almost this exact issue for a client. It's actually a much more complicated analysis that it might seem. There are rights beyond merely jackson's personna at stake here.
    For example, you'd likely need to license the music from the publishers, and the recordings from the record labels...

    It's not insurmountable, but it is complex. You need a lawyer for this project.

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  • Band fired drummer and he now claims we cannot sell album since he was 17 when it was recorded?

    My band fired our drummer for business reasons... he is now threatening us saying since he was a minor (17 at the time, now 18) when we recorded our album that we cannot sell it without his permission. He had no financial involvement in making th...

    Gordon’s Answer

    Yes, he is probably right. A minor's contract an be disaffirmed, so his agreement to be recorded and to have those recordings sold can likely be withdrawn.

    Some states have mechanisms to preent this, but it usually involves going to court to get the contract approved at the time it's made.

    Your best bet is to work out a settlement, or re record the album.

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  • Can I refer to a dead public figure in a play that I plan to write?

    I plan on writing a play in which the main character corresponds to a particular public figure before his/her death and then dealing with the implications in the main character's own life that their death brings. I was planning on using actual qu...

    Gordon’s Answer

    This really depends on what you're saying, how you're saying it, and how much of what you're saying is taken from the person's own writings and speeches. (and a bunch of other factors).

    You need to talk to a theatre lawyer ASAP.


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  • If a business opens across the street from my business, with a name nearly identical to mine, is than an infringement?

    My business is five years old. An employee has decided to open a VERY similar business, and has procured space across the street from my business. She is planning to name her business something VERY similar to my own business name. Am I protected,...

    Gordon’s Answer

    It really depends...

    For example, I your shop is "the LaGrange shoe store", and the other is "LaGrange shoe shop", you're probably out of luck.... But I it's more distinctive, you might have a case. You need a lawyer who knows trademarks, unfair business practices, etc.

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  • Do I need an attorney to file a trademark application?

    Can I file my trademark application myself or do I need a licensed attorney?

    Gordon’s Answer

    You CAN do it yourself... just like you CAN perform surgery on yourself... Neither is a good idea.

    I earn a chunk of my living fixing trademark applications filed by do-it-yourselfers. It always costs them more than if they'd had me do it right from the start.

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  • Is copyright infringed when I lend a book electronically?

    If I buy a book under copyright, as I understand it, I have the right to lend it or give it to a friend. Similarly when a library buys a book, not in the public domain, it has the right to lend it. If the book is in electronic format (an eBook) or...

    Gordon’s Answer

    Your question sort of misses the point.

    If you scan a hardcopy book, you are infringing the copyright, by making a copy of the work. This is very different from handing your physical copy to someone else, which is allowed under the law. Copying is NOT.

    If the work is already in e-book form, it's probably not actually been "sold" to you, but instead, you've purchased a license, which gives you only certain rights... specifically to read and retain the work in its electronic form. The license probably doesn't give you the right to give the data file to anybody else, or to publish it on your website.

    Posting a copyrighted work on your Web site without permission would be infringement as well, since doing so involves:
    1. Making a copy (onto the web server);
    2., making a derivative work (the website page(s) on which the material appears);
    3. distributing the copy (via the web); and
    4. displaying the work in public (via the web).

    All of these are exclusive rights belonging to the copyright owner... not the owner of a single copy.

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