I am starting to produce and direct short films and getting into photography. When I get ready to sell these items on the Internet I don't want people stealing my ideas, nor do I want the models that I am working with come looking for additional payment, royalties, etc.
The Asker wants to retain all intellectual property rights in his work, wants to prevent people from stealing his ideas and wants to preclude models from seeking additional royalties. The Asker can retain all intellectual property rights by not licensing or selling any rights; the Asker cannot prevent people from using his ideas in that ideas cannot be protected as property; and it will be up to "models" and the Asker to litigate to determine future royalties. The Asker should retain Intellectual Property counsel.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
When you sell or otherwise distribute copies of short films, you retain the copyright. Persons who buy or receive copies do not gain the right to make additional copies, they only have the right to use and dispose of the copy that they received.
Copyrights arise as a matter of law when a work is created. But copyrights can be registered, and there are benefits to doing so.
To the extent that any contractors or employees (models or otherwise) are involved, you need to make sure that you will own all intellectual property that may be created. This can be done with appropriate agreements.
You should talk to any attorney regarding registration of copyrights and creation of contractor and / or employee agreements.
1) Sadly, you can't stop people from stealing "ideas." Ideas are not protected by the legal system. You can stop people from making unauthorized copies of your copyrighted artworks, and to an extent you can stop people from making extremely similar works in some circumstances. If it's going to rip you up to see your ideas used by other people, to quote a certain movie, "The only winning move is not to play." (I am not making fun of you. I know it's upsetting to see people apparently appropriating your ideas. You still can't stop them.)
2) You need to have an intellectual property attorney draft model releases and contracts of hire for your talent to mininize the risk of this happening.
Marc Whipple is an attorney, but may or may not be licensed in any particular jurisdiction and may or may not be familiar with any particular law or regulation relevant to the subject matter or related issues. Nothing in this message is meant to constitute professional legal advice or to establish an attorney/client relationship and its content should not be relied upon by third parties. Consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction and familiar with the relevant law before making legal decisions.
That will not be an issue but you need to make sure you work with the right and properly prepared written agreements. Even thought copyright protection affixes automatically in the US upon creation, I would also make certainly to timely register your creative material with the US Copyright Office so to perfect your bundle of rights such as the right to access federal courts, the right to statutory damages, the right to attorney fees, etc.
I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline