Clearance & Copyright, 4th Edition

Silman-James Press

Clearance and Copyright is the industry-standard guide to almost every conceivable rights issue that filmmakers, videomakers, television producers, and Internet content creators might encounter.

From the initial acquisition of material through the rights issues that arise during preproduction, production, postproduction, and release, this legalese-free guide—now extensively revised, updated, and expanded—will help you protect yourself and your work from disastrous legal actions.

Among this edition’s new features are links to 25 downloadable contracts and 50 illustrative film clips.


About Michael C. Donaldson

MICHAEL C. DONALDSON is an entertainment attorney who has been fighting for independent filmmakers for over forty years. Dubbed the “legal Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “fair use guru of the documentary film set” in the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, he has gained a national reputation as an expert on clearance and rights-related issues. He has testified before Congress on copyright reform relating to orphan works, and he successfully negotiated with insurance companies to offer fair use riders on E&O insurance policies, which has allowed many films to be made under the fair use doctrine. He served on the Legal Advisory Board for the Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use. He is past President of the International Documentary Association (IDA) and current General Counsel to Film Independent, home of the Spirit Awards.  Michael wrote the first edition of Clearance & Copyright: Everything You Need to Know for Film and Television in 1996; this fifth edition has been updated by the entire law firm of Donaldson Callif Perez. Other books by him are Negotiating for Dummies and Fearless Negotiating, and he coauthored The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking: Contracts, Copyright, and Everything Else You Need to Know with his partner Lisa Callif.  Michael has competed in the Senior Olympics in gymnastics, winning three gold medals for the parallel bars and a silver medal for rings. He works out weekly on the flying trapeze and participates in swimming events internationally. Michael is married to Tim Kittleson and has three daughters—Michelle, Wendy, and Amy—as well as a granddaughter, Soul, and two grandsons, Caden and Canyon. .

About Lisa A. Callif

Lisa A. Callif, named by Variety as one of “the best and the brightest” (2011), is an entertainment attorney whose primary focus is on representing independent filmmakers in all aspects of their moviemaking, including development, production, and distribution. As part of her practice, she does a significant amount of clearance work for documentaries, including rendering fair use opinion letters, which permit her clients to use limited amounts of unlicensed material in their films under the fair use doctrine as codified in U.S. copyright law. In addition to her work with independent film, Lisa is one of the few attorneys in Los Angeles to represent live theaters. Donaldson Callif Perez represents the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, the Geffen Playhouse, and other Los Angeles–based theater companies, as well as playwrights and composers. Prior to working with her now-partner Michael C. Donaldson, Lisa spent four years at Proskauer Rose. Lisa graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a BS in communications, and worked in the music indus-try in New York and Los Angeles before obtaining her JD from Southwestern School of Law. In law school, she participated on the moot court team (where she placed first in both writing and oral advocacy in a national competition), served as a Lead Articles Editor on the Southwestern Law Review, and wrote an article about online distribution of motion pictures that was published by Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal. In 2010, Lisa co-wrote The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking: Contracts, Copyright, and Everything Else You Need to Know with Michael Donaldson. Lisa is an adjunct professor at Southwestern and a frequent speaker on panels sponsored by Film Independent, the American Pavilion, and UCLA (where she also teaches “legal basics” at the UCLA Professional Producers Program). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Dustin, and their sons, Dylan and Liam. 

"You cannot show your film, even at many festivals, unless it is properly cleared from a legal point of view. This book has all the answers even to questions you haven’t thought of yet.”
John Cooper, Festival Director, Sundance

"This book sets the standard for all those in the entertainment industry who work on clearance and copyright issues.”
Tom Ortenberg, CEO, Open Road Films

"If you only buy one book to guide you through the various challenges facing you as a filmmaker, this is that book. With great clarity, it covers subjects that are simply not covered in any other book and answers questions you may not have even thought to ask.”
Josh Welsh, President of Film Independent

"While digital production and distribution have lowered the cost and complexity involved in getting your film to market, clearances and copyright issues have never been more complex. This book has never been more valuable and relevant. It is the bible for clearance professionals, creators and distributors."
Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix

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