New article on entertainment law; no reminders to avoid brandishing guns in public

I recently had the opportunity to participate in writing an article for the Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, special issue on Leveraging IP for Business Advantage published in September 2012. The topics range from drug pricing to character licensing, enabling the reader to gain a great understanding of the breadth of intellectual property issues.

I was among the articles on entertainment law, with my paper The Heart of the Deal: Intellectual Property Aspects in the Law and Business of Entertainment, Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, Vol. 17, p. 443, 2012.


In the globalized media marketplace, intellectual property rights of copyright, trademark, trade secret and identity interests remain the critical building-blocks of property interests and business structures. At the same time, traditional media categories are blurring as projects are increasingly created as transmedia social audience engagement platforms.

The entire issue is fascinating and will be useful to lawyers across the globe.

My entertainment law article discusses a good many of the issues involved in negotiating intellectual property and production agreements. But it is not as complete as an entire book on filmmaking (see The Independent Filmmaker’s Law and Business Guide) since it did not remind filmmakers that they need appropriate film licenses to shoot on public streets.

While I have often taught this rule, I was reminded of it earlier this week when four St. Paul Minnesota filmmakers were arrested on “charges of terroristic threats for brandishing what appeared to be real weapons.” The story was reported by Chao Xion of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

It wasn’t until after about nine squad cars screeched into the area and officers had arrested three men and a woman that they learned the truth — the group was filming a low-budget movie.

No camera was seen when officers arrived, but a small 35-millimeter camera was later found.

The comments made by the police should also raise some eyebrows:

Police recovered three guns: a BB gun, an Airsoft gun and a replica gun. [Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman] said that none of them carried the orange markings of a toy gun and that the situation could easily have turned dangerous.

“This could have been a very deadly scene,” he said.

Filmmakers are generally required to obtain film permits when shooting in public locations, and of course the making of a film does not give one the right to enter a neighbor’s private property without permission. The police reported that no film permit had been pulled for the filmmaking.

As ultra-low budget filming becomes increasingly popular more such incidents are likely to occur. Brandishing a weapon in a public place will raise alarms. Even in one’s own yard, the same scene that will look great on film could precipitate an emergency response. Planning remains one of the most important steps to successful filmmaking, as our local auteurs recently learned.