The author or the author's agent is in charge of selling the rights to a film. There are two ways to buy film rights to a literary work. This article will teach you how to buy the full rights or through a more common trading option. Read on to find out how to buy movie rights in the United States.
Method 1 of 2: Buy the rights to a movie with an option agreement
Step 1. Seek the advice of an entertainment lawyer
These professionals specialize in the legal aspects of the entertainment industry, including movie rights. Since they are experts in the field, they represent a valuable resource for people looking to purchase the rights to a film for an established job.
Step 2. Prepare a negotiation with an option agreement
This is the preferred method because you don't need to pay a lot up front. This option requires that, as a prospective buyer, you pay the author an option to purchase the rights to the film. The contract usually has a specific duration during which you can try to put everything together to run the production of the film. Once you are ready to produce it, you will have to exercise your option to buy the rights.
If the option contract does not work, depending on the agreement, the author could retain the initial payment amount and any renewal amount received from the buyer and still retain the rights to the film with the ability to sell them elsewhere
Step 3. Set an option period for the deal
The term can vary and include extensions of the initial period that usually require another payment to the author. The option period is often 6 to 12 months. Extensions can be from three to six months. You can also request a renegotiation of the option, instead of asking for an additional extension.
Step 4. Set the payment option
You will have an initial payment, which can be a percentage of the total purchase price, and the amount that you will pay for the extensions included in the agreement. The initial payment can be applied towards the purchase of the rights once you choose the option to buy them, but this may not happen with respect to the payments of the extensions or extensions.
Percentage-based down payments are generally between 2, 5, and 5% of the purchase price
Step 5. Include the final compensation for the author in the agreement
The author may want a small percentage of the movie's profits, if you go ahead with the purchase and produce the movie. Generally, this is a small percentage of such earnings and can be negotiated before the contract or agreement is signed.
Step 6. Determine the amount of royalties that you will pay the writer for subsequent productions
This can include sequels, prequels, and even television series based on the original literary work or the first film adaptation of the work. There are some industry-specific figures regarding royalties, including a third of the purchase price paid for the rights to the original work for a new version, etc. TV shows and movies may have different, but negotiable, royalty shares.
Step 7. Include the copyright in the agreement
You should clearly state copyright reservations in the option agreement, such as publishing rights, the right to publish sequels, prequels, and other canonical works, or other rights. If the author has particular rights that they want to keep, be sure to include them in the option contract.
Step 8. Sign the option contract with the writer and pay the agreed price
You may need the help of an attorney to sign, as the contract will be written in specialized legal vocabulary. After signing the agreement, pay the writer the option price.
Method 2 of 2: Buy the Full Rights to a Movie
Step 1. Find the records and registered transfers of the rights to the work in the copyright database in the United States
It is important that you make sure that the copyright registration is in the name of the author and that there are no other options etc. The database has information since 1978, so previous works will not appear online. If you need to find a work prior to 1978, you will need to purchase a copyright report through a search company.
Copyright search companies will be able to help you, but their services are often expensive
Step 2. Find out who owns the rights to the movie
Contact the publicist of the film to find out if the copyright you want to buy is available. Contact information will generally be included somewhere in the job. If you can't find the information, do an internet search to locate the acquisitions and rights department.
- Employees in the acquisition and rights department will let you know if the rights to the film are available, not available, or in the public domain.
- The term public domain law means that you can adapt and sell the adaptation without having to buy the copyright through the author or the author's estate.
- If the publisher does not control the rights, contact the author's agent.
Step 3. Hire an entertainment attorney
These professionals have experience in the film industry, so they will be able to help you with the process of obtaining rights to an established job. Hiring an attorney before starting negotiations will make the process easier.
Step 4. Negotiate the purchase of full rights
Once you've contacted the publisher of the job you want to purchase the rights for, negotiate a deal to move forward with the transaction. This is a rare way of doing things, as it requires a full down payment before planning a movie.
Buying the full rights to a movie will allow you to control its rights from the start, except for any agreements you have made with the author's agent or rights holder prior to purchase
Step 5. Agree on a total purchase price and put all the terms of the agreement in writing
The terms of a sale may include the buyer and the writer retaining some rights. These may include the role of the author or holder of the rights prior to the purchase (if applicable).
The agreement may include rights to adapt the literary work into a main film in addition to other media, such as home video rights, sequels or new editions, rights to publicity and promotion, or the right to change any part of the original work by adapting it for a film
Step 6. Pay the writer the full agreed amount
Make sure both of you sign the agreement for the sale of the movie rights. Unlike the option method to obtain the rights, the buyer will have to pay the agreed amount in full.
- When purchasing the rights to a film, include a clause stating that you are under no obligation to convert the literary work into a film under any circumstances so that the writer does not force you to do so.
- Writers can include a rollback clause stating that the rights to the film will be returned to you if the literary work is not made into a film within a specified time frame so that it can be sold elsewhere.