• Mar 12, 2020
  • By Filmio Team

A Simple Solution to Ownership Rights

The Purge, a dystopian movie about an annual 12-hour period of lawlessness, fell under legal scrutiny in a four-year case that underscored the problems with the current system of establishing intellectual property rights. Douglas Jordan-Benel, the author of a screenplay titled Settler’s Day, filed suit claiming that his script was ripped off by The Purge creator James DeMonaco. Jordan-Benel had submitted his script to the United Talent Agency (which also represented DeMonaco at the time) under the implied condition that he would receive payment if the movie were ever produced. The Purge bore a striking resemblance to Jordan-Benel’s original script. 

The battle that ensued involved a fight to prove the timing of the conception of the ideas that yielded several major Hollywood productions, including three sequels and a TV show. The plaintiff claimed that DeMonaco tampered with email timestamps in an attempt to falsify an earlier date of initial discussions about the movie. Indeed, some emails did appear to have a “last modified” date after the lawsuit was filed; some even included dates far into the future.

Jordan-Benel dropped the case in 2019 after settling out of court, but document security and intellectual property ownership verification remain a legitimate legal quandary. Many budding creators do not realize the need to immediately establish a clean chain of title to fully protect their ownership rights. As soon as they start penning an idea, authors should file a copyright registration with the federal government, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Timestamped Immutability

Once producers receive consent from an author to adapt their script for screen, they typically have a limited amount of time to create the adaptation. Not only must producers then create agreements and certificates of authorship for anyone working on rewrites, but they must also be able to prove they exercised their option for adaptation within the time granted. Any deviation or extension of the original contract must be recorded. Once the option is exercised, then further documentation of the transfer of rights to the producers is compulsory. 

The lawsuit over The Purge highlighted one of the biggest fallibilities of all in this complicated mess: document tampering. What good is a copyright, a contract or an option for adaptation rights when any can potentially be changed? When authors submit a script to an agency, is there any assurance that they will be given credit and compensation? The same question can be asked of anyone at any step in the entire creation process, from the author to the editor of the final cut.

Fortunately, blockchain is the answer to this problem. Blockchain technology, which is quickly becoming a legally accepted form of documentation, spreads storage of timestamped transaction history across an entire network of servers, rather than keeping the history in one centralized location. When even the slightest detail is changed within a block of data, that alteration, along with its timestamp, is added to the chain and must be verified through every server on the network. This makes all data entered on the blockchain completely transparent and immutable.

Filmio’s Vault Lock

Filmio is leading the way in providing access to secure technology that will change the way the entertainment industry does its business. The innovative Vault Lock system allows creators to load their content and ideas onto the Filmio platform, sharing it with audiences all over the world and timestamping its Proof-of-Originality. Vault Lock assigns the content a QR code that can be used to access the Proof-of-Originality document, along with archived tracking of each step of the production process.

When creators load their content into the Vault Lock, they seamlessly evidence ownership of their intellectual property without investing time and money into complicated legal processes. Any disputes within the platform are resolved by investigating the data on the blockchain. From the moment a creator’s ideas are established on the platform, they are supported by the transparency and immutability that only blockchain can provide. 

Simplifying Ownership 

Vault Lock’s departure from the traditional paper trail of the production process protects everyone in the entertainment industry while making it feasible and affordable for anyone to enter the playing field. It gives creators the security of knowing their intellectual property is supported. It also gives service providers, contributing artists and investors the security of knowing that no one can change any on-platform contracts into which they enter. Their agreements are intact because they are part of a chain that will remain intact.

An environment of trust opens the door to an age of creativity where no one holds back and everyone’s cards are on the table. Filmio is driving progress toward a transparent industry that fosters unique visions and fresh ideas. Creators share more freely when they know their intellectual property rights are supported. The production of films and TV shows will run more smoothly when time and money are not wasted on legal disputes. 

If Hollywood can distance itself from the distractions created by an outdated system that allows for stolen intellectual property and messy lawsuits, the entertainment industry can focus instead on new ideas that bring growth and profit.