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Old 11-25-2019, 10:34 AM   #1
kdmccaskill
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Default Film Rights Problem

I want to write a screenplay based on a Japanese Manga, the copyright holder has said in a statement that was published that anyone can use his work without fear of copyright enforcement and that he will not enforce the copyright

How do you believe I should proceed, should i make the owner sign a legally binding agreement that he will not enforce the copyright, or should i just buy the option
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Old 11-25-2019, 02:03 PM   #2
Northbank
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Default Re: Film Rights Problem

Manga rights are notoriously hard to pin down with often multiple rights holders across multiple companies. I've seen studios take up to two years to sort it out. Someone saying they are the rights holder does not always make it 100% so. I don't know this specific manga but the general advice here is to move on.
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Old 11-25-2019, 03:44 PM   #3
kdmccaskill
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Default Re: Film Rights Problem

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Originally Posted by Northbank View Post
Manga rights are notoriously hard to pin down with often multiple rights holders across multiple companies. I've seen studios take up to two years to sort it out. Someone saying they are the rights holder does not always make it 100% so. I don't know this specific manga but the general advice here is to move on.
I understand what you are saying, but in this case the author is the sole owner and has even stopped the publisher from publishing his award winning 10 million copies sold work, he has put it online for free and has put out a statement that anyone can use his novel to create a derivative work in film, television, and merchandise
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Old 11-25-2019, 03:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Film Rights Problem

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Originally Posted by kdmccaskill View Post
I understand what you are saying, but in this case the author is the sole owner and has even stopped the publisher from publishing his award winning 10 million copies sold work, he has put it online for free and has put out a statement that anyone can use his novel to create a derivative work in film, television, and merchandise
If anyone can, and it's a good concept, you can bet every studio has looked at doing it already, and maybe has in development already. But if you have a passion for it, do it regardless.
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Old 11-25-2019, 04:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Film Rights Problem

the problem, legally, for anyone's spec based on this creator's vague assurance of no intention to litigate a copyright claim is that no studio or prodco worth its salt is going to commit to a multi-million dollar project on that representation alone.
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Old 11-25-2019, 04:56 PM   #6
kdmccaskill
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Originally Posted by JoeBanks View Post
the problem, legally, for anyone's spec based on this creator's vague assurance of no intention to litigate a copyright claim is that no studio or prodco worth its salt is going to commit to a multi-million dollar project on that representation alone.
Exactly, so my question is would you have to make the copyright holder sign a legally binding agreement that he will not enforce the copyright, or would you have to convince him to sell you the film rights
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Old 11-25-2019, 05:23 PM   #7
Northbank
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Exactly, so my question is would you have to make the copyright holder sign a legally binding agreement that he will not enforce the copyright, or would you have to convince him to sell you the film rights
I'd guess that someone who publicly gave away the rights to everyone in the world doesn't want to have to hire a lawyer to go over the agreement that one writer wants to "make" him sign. Nor does he come across as the type to take payment from one person/company/whatever or he'd have done that for big money from a studio already.
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: Film Rights Problem

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Originally Posted by kdmccaskill View Post
...should i make the owner sign a legally binding agreement that he will not enforce the copyright, or should i just buy the option
Yes and/or yes. If he drew some manga and told everyone they could do their own versions of it, that means one thing. (I actually helped a friend with a website who was working at a manga publishing company and fan art came up every day.) Saying, anyone can draw or do their own fan creations is one thing. Giving away the rights for a film or TV show is a whole different game that I can't imagine this artist meant. Maybe they did, but if anything ever got made and it made money, I'm sure a lawsuit of some sort would break out.

Northbank makes a valid enough point, thus definitely something to keep in mind. But, again, yes, get the rights before you write something. If you can get the "film & TV" rights specifically for free, then great. If not, offer a few bucks. Maybe do them as an option only if he seems to start "smelling money" and then set up some kind of purchase price in the agreement, in case something ever really happens.

But as noted by others, you better cover yourself legally in every way you can. Get the rights secured in writing. Who knows? The artist truly might not care in the least, but I'd find that extremely hard to believe as would any studio or network.
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Last edited by Done Deal Pro : 11-26-2019 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 11-26-2019, 08:12 AM   #9
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Default Re: Film Rights Problem

I think you have to attempt to secure the TV/film rights. I would choose your words more carefully and avoid "make" them do something, because that gives an impression that you hold some power or leverage over them when you do not. I'm not trying to be a dick or someshit, just noting that your approach can affect the outcome of your efforts.

Hopefully, they'll agree, but I suspect they will not. I could be wrong.

The thing is, a studio will want to have copyright ownership transferred over to them before making an investment. This is one of the most valuable aspects of IP, the ability to own the copyright for sequels, prequels, spinoffs, and TV rights. I can't see a studio investing millions of dollars into a project that their competition can come in and profit off their hard work.

One of the first questions anyone interested in the property will confirm, is that you own the copyright to the material. If you do not, that will stop the forward progress for a lot of companies.

Maybe your version will be amazing and the studio will work hard on your behalf to secure the copyrights at that point, but the chances are against you. It would be better to secure the rights first. Other DDP'rs have made good points to consider.

Try to get the rights. The worst that can happen is they say no.

Good luck,
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