Any film production requires numerous considerations in each shot. From lighting and sound to an actor’s wardrobe and the set design, producers have a lot to think about.
Among all the decisions to be made, something as simple as neglecting to remove certain everyday objects from a single frame could result in hefty legal fees for using another company’s intellectual property.
To protect against these risks, production liability insurance typically includes coverage against content and intellectual property threats. However, this protection just scratches the surface of everything that a comprehensive production liability policy can provide.
Explore how production liability insurance can benefit your next project and protect you from intellectual property violations.
An Overview of Production Liability Insurance
Production liability insurance is a broad umbrella of coverage that addresses the damage or injury your production can cause to uninvolved parties. For example, if your shoot requires significant use of lighting and sound rigs and a member of the public trips over a poorly secured power cord attached to some of this equipment, your studio could be liable for damages.
If the person sustains an injury, you may be on the hook for the cost of their medical bills and any rehabilitation. In many ways, the same is true of how your production can cause injury to a company. Not all injuries need to be physical, and your film could violate the intellectual property rights of another entity.
Should this occur, the company involved may claim that your production caused monetary losses that they are entitled to recoup at your expense. Production liability insurance commonly includes some protection against these types of claims, making it an invaluable part of any production.
Most venues will only work with a film studio once they have secured production liability or, at the very least, general liability insurance.
The Most Common Types of IP Risks
Content and intellectual property risks come in many forms, but the most common involve copyright and trademark. An example of a copyright infringement can be found as recently as 2017 when Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” was embroiled in legal difficulties after being contacted by the estate of playwright Paul Zindel.
In 1969, Zindel had written a play entitled “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” which the estate claimed was uncannily similar to del Toro’s new work. Production liability insurance that contains robust copyright protection can assist when legal issues such as these arise.
Similarly, trademarks describe who owns the rights to products, and the same issues can arise during filming. Disney faced such an issue when they created the character of Duke Caboom for their Toy Story franchise.
A company called K&K Promotions pursued legal action against Disney for allegedly stealing the legal rights of real-life stuntman Evel Knievel to sell toys. Production insurance with baked-in IP protection can handle this type of legal matter.
While trademark and copyright disputes are the most common, other types can arise. For instance, if a documentary accidentally reveals a trade secret, the affected company can file legal action to mitigate financial damages.
Other Important Insurance Protections
While production insurance can protect against some types of copyright infringement and other IP violations, it is essential to read the details of the policy.
Many film insurers offer a separate copyright infringement policy or rider that can be added to production insurance to bolster the level of protection, both in terms of scope and covered value.
Additionally, seeking out an E&O (errors & omissions) policy can further insulate the production studio from issues related to the content of their films and the information or representations contained within.
Some production insurance policies will also include clauses for invasion of privacy, protecting the production from legal issues such as using someone’s likeness without permission.
While this is not necessarily an intellectual property violation, it falls under a similar gray area that may leave an unprepared studio embroiled in financial and legal conflict.
Get Comprehensive Production Coverage from The Insurance Experts at MFE
Production liability insurance is often a non-negotiable part of creating a film, documentary, or other content for public consumption. However, a baseline policy may not contain the protection your company needs to approach its next project confidently.
Be sure to work with industry experts who can craft a tailored insurance package that protects you against copyright infringement, trademark disputes, and other types of IP violations in addition to its standard coverage.
The experts at MFE Insurance have worked with film studios, influencers, and more to create customized insurance that addresses their needs. Contact MFE Insurance to get a quote and discuss your options.