Securing the Rights: Step One for Film, Television and Theater Production

Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 90 minutes
Recorded Date: April 10, 2018
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  • Acquisition of "Underlying Rights"
  • Underlying Rights for Stage Productions 
  • Underlying Rights for Film/TV Productions
  • Life Story Rights
  • Acquisition of Primary Rights
  • Scope - Live Stage/Motion Picture/Televisions
  • Duration and Territory - Live Stage/Motion Picture
  • Economics - Live Stage/Motion Picture/Television
  • Control - Live Stage/Motion Picture
  • Questions and Answers
Runtime: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Recorded: April 10, 2018


The entertainment media are (and have always been) highly adaptive of prior works. Film and television productions are routinely based upon works of literary fiction, and stage plays (especially musicals) are inspired by classic films and television properties, literary works, comic strips, and graphic novels. Work on any adapted property, regardless of the intended medium, typically begins with getting the rights—securing the all-important ability to create a derivative work that usually translates the pre-existing copyrighted work into a new medium.

This program was recorded on April 10th, 2018.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Carolyn Casselman

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

As counsel in the Entertainment Department, Carolyn J. Casselman is engaged in representing individuals and companies in all aspects of the entertainment industry, including film, television, publishing, music, digital platforms and live stage. Her practice covers a range of matters such as advising financiers in connection with film and live stage investments, representing producers in the acquisition of underlying material for exploitation in a variety of media, negotiating collaboration and publishing agreements on behalf of authors, publishers and celebrity personalities, and representing directors, designers, writers, rightsholders and producers in all manner of live stage, motion picture and television transactions.

In addition, Ms. Casselman regularly advises companies in connection with mergers, acquisitions and financing transactions in the media, sports and entertainment space, spanning a range of assets and activities, including television production and programming, film libraries, music catalogs, sports teams, sponsorships and talent representation.

Ms. Casselman is an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Columbia University School of the Arts, and has guest lectured at Columbia Law School and Brooklyn College.

M. Graham Coleman

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Gray Coleman has more than 25 years of experience in intellectual property and general business law. He handles entertainment and media transactions including theater, film and television financing and production, and music and publishing matters.

Gray acts as production counsel for a number of independent films, television series and specials, and theatrical productions on Broadway and elsewhere; guides clients in trademark selection, registration, licensing and protection; copyright registration; ownership and licensing issues; manuscript/script review for protection in all media; and a wide variety of contractual arrangements for parties working in the above industries and other businesses utilizing intellectual property.

He also assists in the licensing of name/likeness rights, famous trademarks and character rights; and in enforcement, litigation and dispute resolution support in intellectual property infringement cases.

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