One of the things about trying to write movies and TV shows is that if you want to make a true story, you have to figure out the life rights.

There are a lot of murky rules surrounding life rights. If someone is a public figure, you don't have to option them. and we covered that you can always option something written about them as Hulu did with Pam & Tommy, which gives you a workaround.

But if you want to avoid being sued, you'll want to secure the life rights. So what do you do if you're getting the rights from a criminal? Do you really want to pay cash to a bad person in order to make some entertainment about them? 

Well, Netflix found itself in that situation recently. Its new series, Inventing Anna, is about con artist Anna Sorkin. While she committed mostly white-collar crimes, she's still a criminal. And new details show that Netflix paid her $320,000 to use her story for a TV show.

In addition, New York has what is called a "Son of Sam" law, which prohibits criminals who attempt to make money off books, or TV shows, about their crimes. While Sorkin's funds were initially frozen, they were eventually granted to her. Sorkin apparently used the money to pay off legal debts and fines, but there's still a big ethics question behind this.  

Again, Sorkin's victims did not suffer direct violence (although PTSD and mental issues are real and criminal) and were able to get their money back, but should studios be paying people for their crimes? 

That's a little complicated. While they wouldn't have to pay someone behind bars, the laws are hard to debate if that person has relatives on the outside who might be featured as well. And also if that person ever gets out, you might have to pay. If you have questions, you should consult a lawyer. You don't want to create something you can't use later. 

The ethics questions are really hard to suss out. There are reasons to write about all sorts of different characters. 

Let us know what you think in the comments.