Chain of Title



Full-length features and episodic productions are generally based on some form of literary or other work. Such underlying works include novels, comic books, video games, short stories, and news articles or other publications. As part of an acquisition agreement between the supposed owner of the copyright in one of these underlying works and the producer of a derivative work to be based on it, or a distribution agreement between producers of a film or episodic production and their distributors, a primary consideration is whether the entity seeking to transfer the rights actually owns or controls those rights. In this regard, it's critical to ascertain the "chain of title" in those rights.

"Perfecting chain of title" is the customary term of art describing the analysis conducted on a film or episodic production that ensures all of the rights in the production are accounted for and properly documented in accordance with the distribution agreement and contemporary industry standards. This analysis entails a detailed chronological examination of all of the transfers of rights comprising the production in question. Errors and omissions in the analysis of the chain of title may have grave consequences for the distribution prospects of the production and provide a basis for third party claims against both the producer and distributors for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and breach of contract.

In this course, students learn both the broad concerns and the intricacies associated with chain of title analysis, including detailed instruction in the customary policies and procedures from the contexts of the development, finance, production and distribution phases of film production, along with special issues such as works transferred via intestacy laws, works that were the subject in a bankruptcy proceeding or litigation, and transfers of rights under the laws of foreign jurisdictions.

This course will provide students with the training needed to make them viable candidates for legal positions at studios, law firms, unions, and lending institutions that conduct this analysis.