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Insight + analysis on indie film legal issues

The SAG-AFTRA strike and independent films: What indie producers need to know and what they can do.

SAG-AFTRA announced yesterday that a strike of the Producers-SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Contracts of 2014, as amended by the 2017 and 2020 memoranda of agreement, will begin at 12:01 a.m. on July 14. The work stoppage will impact 160,000 union members whose contracts have now expired. While work for studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”) will stop, however, members may be able to work on indie productions under an interim agreement. Here is what indie producers need to know.

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Independent contractors and indie films: Police officers not production employees on low-budget shoot per California Court of Appeals.

Entertainment law case updates

Michael Estrada v. Scars of the Mind Motion Picture Company
Cal Ct App August 31, 2022

Whether production crew members on low-budget indie films are employees rather than independent contractors is an extremely important business and legal affairs issue for film producers. That’s because a production company that allegedly fails to pay workers as employees if required to do so can face wage demands, fines, penalties, and the need to defend themselves in court. It’s exactly what happened to the filmmakers behind “Acts of Desperation,” an indie motion picture filmed in Los Angeles in 2018 by Scars of the Mind Productions.

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Licensing Agreement: Ninth Circuit holds that damages for undiscovered copyright infringement are not limited to three years.


Entertainment law case updates

Starz Entertainment LLC v. MGM Domestic Television Distribution LLC
USCA Ninth Cir July 14, 2022

In Starz Entertainment, LLC v. MGM Domestic Television Distribution, LLC,11. No. 21-55379 (9th Cir. July 14, 2022). the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to dismiss copyright infringement claims as barred by the three-year statute of limitations under the Copyright Act.22. 17 U.S.C. § 507(b).

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Why you should consider using product placements to finance and promote your independent film production.

Porsche logo on the back of a car in an action movie scene

Advertisers are increasingly searching for more and better opportunities to place brands and products into films and television productions. Variety this week reports that global advertising group Interpublic has announced a new data analysis product planned for internal use in finding movies and broadcast and streaming series that “will serve as a good fit for in-show product placement.”

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Oregon film and television tax incentives for labor and vendors increase July 1, 2022.

The glorious rain-free days of summer in Oregon will soon be here. Even better this year are new increases to the state’s film and television production tax incentives effective July 1, 2022. Using Oregon’s film and media incentive programs, producers may be able to rebate 20% of Oregon-based goods and services. An additional cash payment of up to 16.2% of payroll wages paid to production personnel working in the state may also be available. Oregon Film has announced that “this will increase to a 25% rebate for both labor and vendors as of July 1, 2022.”

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