Do I Really Need Life Rights Agreements for Film Projects

Do I Really Need Life Rights Agreements for Film Projects?

As you’re planning out the plot and storyline for your next film, you’re probably wondering if you really need life rights agreements for film projects that you’re currently working on. Filmmakers often wonder about the rights that they need to acquire for the projects they’re working on and whether they can take steps to save time, and money, without risking a lawsuit. When it comes to the subject of life rights, and whether or not you really need life rights agreements for film projects that you’re working on. You might have noticed in your search for permissions through the U.S. Copyright Office that “life rights” are not included. 

So, if life rights or life story rights don’t technically exist in terms of copyright permissions…Do I really need life rights agreements for film projects that I’m working on? YES! 


How can we say that life story rights don’t exist, but you still need a life rights agreement for the film project? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?

The truth is, although “life story rights” don’t technically exist, producers, filmmakers, and those considering a film that will use pertinent details about someone’s life. Including the private history of their past, should enter a life rights agreement.

If there are No Life Rights, Why are There Life Rights Agreements?

You’re probably wondering, if there are no life rights, then why is it important for producers to enter life rights agreements for film? The bottom line is, life rights agreements for film can protect producers from underlying misunderstandings or lawsuits.

That may be brought forth for defamation, invasion of privacy, or the misappropriation of personality. This means, that if you’re a producer that uses the life story of someone in your film.

Although you may not first secure the “life story rights” allowing you to do so, you can enter a “life rights agreement” which essentially provides permission for you to use someone’s private details in a film without risking a lawsuit.

Life rights agreements for film will protect you from lawsuits that accuse you of things. Like misappropriation of personality when you use someone’s image to drive sales or invasion of privacy claims. Which come about from potentially disclosing private facts about an individual or shedding false light. 

What’s Included in Life Rights Agreements for Film?

You want to protect yourself, and you can’t just get “life rights” to create a film that focuses on someone, so what can you do? You can work with the individual that you intend to portray in your film to create a life rights agreement.

For film producers, life rights agreements release the producer from any potential claims for defamation, invasion of privacy or the misappropriation of personality. As well as other claims which may be brought up against them.

Additionally, these agreements can outline the terms of cooperation that will come about between the individual that you’re producing a film about. And access to the fine details that could be advantageous to your film.

The agreement will also include exclusivity allowing the producer to use the life details of the individual. Barring the individual from sharing the details with any other filmmakers or creators. 

In Summation

Do you really need life rights agreements for film? Technically, there are no “life rights” that you can purchase. But life rights agreements for film can provide protections against claims for defamation. And other issues while opening up the door for you in terms of distribution.

A distributor will require a clean chain of title in order for you to distribute your film. Which means you’ll need to have permission from the original individual that is depicted in your film. In order to share their personal information and the story of their life with the world.

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