Entertainment Law and Practice Final - Spring 1998

Final Examination

Franklin Pierce Law Center
Spring 1998

This is an open-book, take-home exam, to be returned to the Registrars office by 4:00 P.M. on May 1.

This exam has two parts. Part one consists of a question which you are required to answer. In part two, you are given a choice of questions, and you may answer any one of them.

Your two answers COMBINED may not be longer than three (3) pages. You should type your answers if at all possible. Your typed pages may be single-spaced or doublespaced, but in either case, the 3-page limit applies, so you will probably want to singlespace your answers. (Do not use type smaller than this 10 point type.)

I suggest devoting approximately two pages to Part One, and one page to Part Two.

AIternatively, if you prefer, feel free to devote one and a half pages to each. Either method is acceptable.

Obviously, it can be difficult to write a short answer to a complicated question. The 'best method is to think through your answer carefully before writing, perhaps making a short outline of your points. And don't go into a lot of detail. Imagine that you are writing .a so-called "executive summary" for a busy client. Briefly explain, and thus demonstrate that you understand, the key issues involved.

Part One. Answer the following question.

A producer read a rather sensational new book written by President Clinton's former butler at the Camp David presidential retreat. This non-fiction book describes in great detail Mat went on during many presidential visits to the retreat. The book discusses the many weekend guests who have joined the President at Camp David, including foreign leaders, politicians, lobbyists, business executives, and film stars. Some parts of the book offer a behind-the-scenes look at political lobbying and deal-making. Other parts discuss more personal matters, including sexual encounters and even drug use among the various guests. The producer envisions a big movie based on the book, but she knows enough to call her lawyer first.

What about consents, she asks? Are they needed and from whom? It seems likely to her that most of the people would refuse to consent even if approached. What are the risks of proceeding without consents? That is, what legal claims might be made arising from the exhibition and marketing of the film, and how strong would they be? What defenses would she have, and in that regard, how can the risks be reduced in the course of making the film?

Finally, she wants to know if she has to buy the movie rights to the book. It is a top seller and the price could be high. Should she buy it or would that just be a waste of money? Please advise her.

Part Two. Answer only one of the following questions (your choice).

1 . The producer in part one is trying to decide whether (a) to take the film project to a major studio or (b) to try to develop and produce it as an independent production. Briefly explain the differences between the two routes, and the advantages and disadvantages for the producer.

2. Assume the producer went the big studio route. In her deal, she gets a small cash fee, plus 20% of the net profits (defined proceeds). She would like a hit film, of course. And she would also like to make a lot of money from the film. The studio advises her to cast big stars; her accountant advises her against casting big stars. With reference to how her share is calculated, briefly explain the advantages and disadvantages for her of casting the big stars.

3. In 1989, the U.S. joined the Berne Convention. According to certain commentators, the U.S. needed little or no new legislation in order to comply with Berne's minimum moral rights requirements (Article 6bis). The necessary protections are available to authors from a variety of existing laws, such as trademark and unfair competition, right of publicity, defamation, and copyright, as well as from clauses contained in union and private agreements. Do you agree with that? Why or why not?