When creating a film, the creative process will involve many creators, owners, and source material. Therefore, one of the main concerns of those in the industry is to establish legitimate ownership or proprietary rights. To document these rights, a chain of title is used to trace back the chain of ownership.
However, a chain of title is not just one document, but many. Take, for example, a screenplay that was based on a previously published book. This book was also made into a TV show before, and the screenplay also considers elements from that series. Therefore, there will be several documents, with each providing ownership of its source material. When working with original material for a movie, it is vital that proper permission has been granted by the original owners. Without proof of having the rights to produce, film, or distribute a piece of work in the entertainment industry, projects will not move forward (or if they do, they will face many legal battles).
The various documents that can be included in a chain of title include trademark and copyright clearances, legal releases, and talent agreements. Given that the distribution and marketing of a film will require publicizing the talent involved, employment contracts will prove crucial in providing (or clarifying) the rights held by the producers and the involved talent. Sometimes, if the movie is based on a real story, but then take major liberties with the veracity of the events, life story rights can also be attained. Chain of title will also include documentation that the producers have the rights to the images, artwork, and music in the film as well. If a song is to be synced with the movie’s trailer or actual scenes, the appropriate synchronization and master licenses must be sought.
A chain of title is not something that is ignored by the producers of a film. It establishes the rights and ownership of all those involved, gives credit to those who have contributed with their creative material, and is necessary for specific steps in the process of releasing a film.