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Chain of Title, a New Innovative Website, Takes the Guesswork out of Copyrighting Your Work

04.21.13 @ 9:26PM Tags : , , ,

Filmmaking is hard. We all know that. Fortunately, we have lots of tools, gadgets, and resources that make almost every phase of production easier: from screenwriting software that formats your scripts for you, to step-by-step online video tutorials. However, one aspect of production still seems to be absent from the bountiful spring of online help: securing, maintaining, and assign the copyrights for projects. Wading through all of the legal jargon, lengthy documents, and confusing rules and regulations can stomp out your creative fire, but, it looks like that’s about to change with Chain of Title, a website geared toward making this process a lot less painful.

So, where is this resource? How can you get your hands on all of its useful and vital information? Well — you can’t. Not yet, anyway. Headed by independent documentary filmmaker and producer Jordan Clark, Chain of Title currently has a campaign on Indiegogo with a goal to reach $48,000 by June 1st. Check out the campaign video to learn more about what Chain of Title offers:


The website will offer descriptions of copyright laws and processes both in layman’s terms and legal terms with videos to go along with each one. It will show you what you need, what it is, and how to get it. If you’re on set and you have a question about trademarks, products, locations, you can access that information on your phone or online through Chain of Title’s website. Not only that, but Chain of Title gives you access to extra releases, waiver forms, and other forms and documentation you may need on the go. Oh, did I mention that it’s all free? Well — it is. 100% free.

Why is all of that important to independent filmmakers? Well, Chain of Title gets its name from the series of documents and agreements that establish proprietary rights in a film; the “chain of title”. It’s one, if not the most important thing to secure when selling or distributing your work, since distributors and broadcasters won’t touch it unless it has E&O insurance (errors and omissions), which you can’t get without a clean chain of title.

For the independent film community, I think this would be an invaluable resource to have. Most of us view ourselves as artists, auteurs, or just people who like to have fun by making movies. But, I doubt that most of us would consider ourselves primarily salespeople or attorneys. Clark shares about his experience being an independent filmmaker and having to deal with the task of learning about copyright law.

I wish that there had been something like this for me when I needed it — When I started making my first film I had no idea how to do this. I had to go out and find the resources available, usually in a book written by a lawyer. But, these books were based on winning or losing based on copyright law, and I wasn’t so concerned about winning or losing, because I didn’t have the money to go to trial if there was an issue. My concern was complete avoidance of problems.

With Chain of Title, independent filmmakers can approach their projects in a different way: with less fear and more confidence knowing that the legal aspect is simplified for them. You don’t have to become a lawyer overnight. You don’t have to sweat over unknowingly infringing on other people’s copyrights, or being helpless when someone has infringed on yours. You can easily learn what you need to know so your film isn’t dead in the water.

So, if you think that Chain of Title would be a valuable resource for independent filmmakers, check out their Indiegogo campaign. It’s full of tons of information, perks, and even a pie chart that breaks down the cost of building the website. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

What do you think about Chain of Title? What was it like for you going through this aspect of production? Would a resource like this be helpful?

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COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 23 COMMENTS

  • john jeffries on 04.21.13 @ 9:48PM

    Or you can just go to copyright.gov and do it straight from the actual government

    • Absolutely John, every finished film should be registered with the copyright office. However, that is not what this campaign is about. We are talking about the CHAIN OF TITLE for a film – the hundreds of copyrights that are being created by every crew and cast member. We are talking about the hundreds of contracts/ agreements/ and releases you are required to show your lawyer in order to acquire Errors and Omissions Insurance for broadcast and distribution. It’s about maximizing your films potential audience and marketability. I wish there was a government service that provided all that – it would make my job as a filmmaker so much easier :) Registering your film at the copyright office is the very last step (assuming you actually secured all the copyrights within it). All the best!

      • john jeffries on 04.22.13 @ 2:25PM

        Thats really interesting. What about LLC // business stuff? Im trying to do that and I have no idea where to start

        • You bet! A clean chain of title requires it! Setting up a LLC is important to ensure that the filmmaker is not personally liable. It also contains the investor liability within the LLC itself. We will be going over that on the resource – as well as how to maintain contracts for production companies who focus on commercial and corporate video work. If we meet our funding goal we will be allocating resources to specialized videos about the investor share structure and how an LLC differs in Canada from the US (mainly it does not allow flow-through-taxation). When a feature film is accessing tax credits, funding, investment, major distribution and broadcast, a LLC (USA) or corporation (in Canada) is a must.

  • Will this law/copyright apply to American region only, how about UK and Australia for example?

    • Hey Peter,

      Great question. The resource will be starting with information vetted by lawyers for Canada and the United States. We hope to grow and include other territories, but the legal costs would be astronomical at this point. The UK is on the top of our list to do next. Help make this successful and it could happen sooner than later :) Thanks!

  • Hey V. Renee!
    Here’s another cool project you may want to write about, for Indie filmmakers to fund,
    and help make a reality.

    A neat concept: The HolyManta ND filter.

    Check it out here: http://vimeo.com/63910035

    http://www.fundedbyme.com/projects/1740/holymanta-internal-nd-lens-adapters/

  • This is great!

    • One question, so this is USA/CAN laws at first, will it cover international distribution?

      • Hello hansd,

        As far as the contracts go, it will only be vetted for the US/Canada. The resource will walk filmmakers through the chain of title so they can acquire Errors and Omissions Insurance (required for broadcast and distribution) which, depending on your insurer and policy, protects you worldwide. E&O is essentially malpractice insurance for filmmakers. So yes, a film with Errors and Omissions Insurance is covered internationally. In my experience, the US is by far the most litigious. My distribution/broadcast contracts in Canada and the US have been as big as 25 pages, whereas in Sweden it was 2 pages, and the second was for signatures. Hope that helps :)

  • Love this, what a great resource. Just supported.

  • Looks to be a promising resource. I’m not setup on indiegogo, as the projects I’ve supported in the past were via kickstarter. When I get a chance I’ll see about signing up and making a contribution. Thanks for working on this Jordan, too many tend to neglect the paperwork/legal sides of production. Myself now and again included!

    • Thanks Dan! I think most DIY filmmakers have been guilty at for ignoring paperwork at one point or another. Unfortunately many only realize its importance too late – or at a great legal expense to clean it up. We hope to change that :)

    • Thanks Dan! I think most DIY filmmakers have been guilty for ignoring paperwork at one point or another. Unfortunately many only realize its importance too late – or at a great legal expense to clean it up. We hope to change that :)

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