Copyright in film and television—making a new film
Produced in partnership with Alexis Hawkes of BBC IP Legal
Copyright in film and television—making a new film

The following TMT guidance note Produced in partnership with Alexis Hawkes of BBC IP Legal provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Copyright in film and television—making a new film
  • Underlying works—literary works
  • Biographies or accounts of factual events
  • Characters
  • Set design and location
  • Photographs
  • Right to privacy of certain photographs or films
  • Music
  • Performances
  • Permitted acts

When making a new film or television programme, a number of individual different copyright works will comprise the film depending on the type of production being made, eg a drama or a factual documentary. This Practice Note looks at some of the common underlying works incorporated into film and television productions. Some of these works will not automatically belong to the production company making the film so it is essential to take either an assignment or a licence of those works created as part of the production process which grants rights for the scope of exploitation intended. In the case of pre-existing works producers may wish to take a licence or rely on one of the exceptions to copyright in Chapter III of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988), see the section: Permitted acts below.

Copyright is a territorial right and rights are also divisible by types of exploitation, for example it is possible to licence the right to reproduce and communicate to the public a sound recording in a television programme on a non-exclusive basis for a particular territory. An example of this might be to licence in the UK for television broadcast only, but the licensor may require a further licence and additional payment for the reproduction involved in manufacturing DVDs or further communication to the public