This is the archived SXSW 2012 schedule. Please see the current schedule here.

Clearing Rights: What "Borat" Wrought

When you film people you run the risk of breaching their rights such as privacy, publicity and defamation. See clips from actual law suits that tested the limits of these rights and the releases used by filmmakers. Does your release protect you from claims of people appearing in your film? When do you need a release? When do you NOT need a release? What terms must be in the release agreement? The documentary film, Borat taught us nothing begets lawsuits like success. With 23 claims leading to 10 lawsuits, the Borat release is one of the most tested contracts in film history. The panel will come armed with clips from Borat and other projects that triggered lawsuits from people caught on camera, including hidden cameras, with and without releases. The panel will discuss tips on how to protect filmmakers who swim in these treacherous waters.


MODERATOR Dan Satorius Attorney/Owner Satorius Law Firm PLLC

Dan Satorius’ law firm is Satorius Law Firm, PC and he is Of Counsel with Lommen/Abdo. For over 25 years, he has represented clients in independent film and television including Academy Award, Emmy Award, Independent Spirit, and Sundance award winners. He frequently writes and speaks about entertainment law and was an adjunct professor of law at William Mitchell Law School. He is the Motion Picture and Television Vice-Chair of the ABA’s Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries. Dan has a Masters of Arts in Film Production and is a producer of award-winning films which gives him a unique ability to help his clients and their projects.

Michael Donaldson Partner Donaldson & Callif LLP

Michael C. Donaldson is an entertainment attorney who has been fighting for independent filmmakers for over 30 years. In addition to working on films by such industry icons as Oliver Stone, Davis Guggenheim and Lawrence Bender, Michael serves as General Counsel to Film Independent (home of the Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival) and the Writers Guild Foundation. He is the industry’s go-to attorney for fair use (a doctrine in United States copyright law permitting limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holders) and other clearance- and rights-related issues.

Some of Michael’s notable accomplishments include:

o Authoring Clearance and Copyright, which is currently used in over 50 film schools and has become the standard industry reference book.

o Being honored as one of Hollywood Reporter’s 2010 & 2011 Power Lawyers.

o Successfully negotiating with Media Professional Insurance Company and Chubb Insurance Company to offer fair-use riders on the E&O insurance policies, allowing many films to be made under the fair-use doctrine.

o Co-authoring with his partner Lisa Callif the American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Filmmaking.

o Being honored with the Amicus Award by The International Documentary Association – an honor bestowed on only two others in the 25-year history of the awards: Steven Spielberg and John Hendricks (founder of the Discovery Channel).

o Serving as one of the authors of the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use and being the only attorney in private practice to serve on the drafting committee for the recently released Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video (which includes a section on mash-ups).

o Serving on the Advisory Committee of the Stanford Fair Use Project.

o Being the sole American attorney to assist in the drafting of the Rome Resolution of 2007 to harmonize fair use across the European union.

o Assisting in the drafting and lobbying for Orphan Works legislation.

o Holding the position of President of the International Documentary Association.

o Organizing and leading the Documentary Credits Coalition in negotiations with the cable networks to prevent the wholesale migration of credits from the screen to the Internet.

o Negotiating for Dummies (now in its second edition and translated into eleven languages), Fearless Negotiating (published in hardback in 2007 by McGraw Hill) and The E-Z Legal Guide to Trademarks & Copyrights.

Michael graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall in 1967. He’s worked on such projects as “This Film is Not Yet Rated” (where all 134 clips were utilized under fair use), “Wanderlust” (saving its filmmaker over $400,000) and “Expelled” (which featured the song “Imagine,” prompting an unsuccessful law suit by Yoko Ono). Michael has also worked with the Geffen Playhouse and the REDCAT, as well as representing Center Theatre Group (Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre) for over twenty years.

Aside from frequently lecturing at law and film schools in the United States and Europe, Michael is an avid skier, world-wide hiker, and an award-winning photographer.

Kirk Schroder Partner Schroder Fidlow & Titley PLC

Kirk is in the current edition of The Best Lawyers in America(r) for the field of entertainment law. He is also rated an "AV"* lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for lawyers. Kirk is currently the Chair the American Bar Association Entertainment & Sports Law section. He has taught entertainment law at the University of Virginia School of Law and is a frequent lecturer on entertainment law issues.

Kirk represents a number of award-winning independent filmmakers and producers and has extensive working knowledge of the many legal and business aspects of filmmaking (including production, union, financing and distribution arrangements). He serves as counsel on numerous major studio productions for Universal Pictures. Many of his clients have production deals with cable networks such as the Discovery Channel, HBO, and Showtime. His firm has clients all over the world and prides itself on providing high quality legal services and being cost-effective for its clients

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