Class Meeting: A Conversation About Copyright and Licensing Schemes

We spent some time on Tuesday discussing, in a rather preliminary sort of way, how we were going to allocate the rights of the films we’re going to make. We hope that the thoughts below will provide a useful starting point for what will likely prove to be an ongoing conversation.

Here are some reasons that we need to talk about rights: What if the group of students working on the Visual Law Project next year wants to make modifications to our films? What if one member of the current group wants to use a film for a commercial purpose? What if Yale wants to use our work for commercial purposes, or make modifications to it? How do we ensure that we receive attribution on the films we create? What if one of the parties we are contracting with to make the films requests some ownership in the resulting product?

We boiled this long list of concerns down to three basic questions about rights and licensing agreements: (1) What’s the relationship between the Visual Law Project and Yale? (2) What’s the relationship among members of the Visual Law Project? (3) What will our relationships with possible subcontractors look like?

Our initial intuition was that Yale would own the films, and project members would be given a perpetual non-exclusive license to the films. But we realized that we might need to negotiate the terms of the contract granting ownership to Yale, and would likely need to negotiate the exact terms of the non-exclusive license that Yale would grant to us.

We also discussed other types of liability and indemnification agreements: who will be responsible if one of us gets hurt? Who will be responsible if we damage a camera? What if the films themselves have the effect of injuring someone?

We have been discussing these and other questions with the administration and general counsel’s office at Yale — resolving such questions about rights has, in a sense, become one of the integral lessons of our practicum.

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