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Class offers basics of audiovisual laws

WANT TO GO?

"IP/Media Law 101" Creators Program Workshop

By Robert Bandy and Kevin Levine

WHEN: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE: WVSU Economic Development Center, 1506 Kanawha Blvd. W

ADMISSION: $25

INFO: Call 304-720-1401 or visit digiso.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This Friday's "Creators Program" workshop at West Virginia State University's Economic Development Center on the West Side has an innocent title: "IP/Media Law 101."

But contained in that phrase is a lot of survival information when wading into the hazardous land known as IP -- intellectual property -- for creators who make films, video, advertising and other audiovisual work.

"We're hoping to get a diverse crowd of people from all over the community. Anybody who wants to learn a little bit more about the intellectual property aspect of what they're doing in the creative arts," says Robert Bandy, who'll present the workshop along with his Kay Casto & Chaney law firm colleague, Kevin Levine.

The event is targeted to -- but not limited to -- independent filmmakers, video producers and other creatives who mix moving images, sound and music, said Levine, in an interview with both attorneys, who have a specialty in entertainment, music and film production legalities.

"Quite frankly, it's always easier to counsel a person and help them on the front end before they get a cease-and-desist letter or run into a wall on the back end," said Levine.

The workshop runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and costs $25. It will explore everything from copyrights and trademarks, to proper licensing of music and locations, in an effort to ensure your own creative work is protected or that your work doesn't infringe on the legal rights of another creator's creativity.

After all, in the web age, who knows when something will take off.

"You make a short film and stick it on YouTube and all of a sudden you have 10 million views and you start thinking, 'Hey, I may actually have done something pretty good here. Hopefully, you've done you're homework before you did that," said Bandy.

Added Levine: "You never know where the next big thing is going to come from. There are a lot of people out there that are discovered online. The fact is you may very well have a commercially viable property that is worthy of protection. People are becoming more aware of that so therefore they are becoming extremely protective."

Whether it's pre-production, production, editing or distribution, the proper releases are essential, said Levine. For instance, shooting in a location without the proper releases can prevent a production from getting "Errors and Omissions" insurance, Levine said.

"If you don't have E and O insurance in place the chances of getting theatrical distribution is not really good. [You'll be] largely limited to showing to family, friends, festivals. You're probably going to be kicking yourself for not at least finding out what you should have done during pre-production."

It's understandable that film and video makers want to focus on the purely creative aspect of a project, said Bandy. "They want to know how am I going to get this shot, what's the best way to utilize my actors? We want to come in and remind them, 'Hey, there are some other things you need to be thinking about as well. So that you don't in the future get to the point where now you can't use what you've created.'"

Bandy was a student in the film program with filmmaker Danny Boyd at West Virginia State University in Institute and helped with the production of some of his films, including "Paradise Park" and "Strangest Dreams," before he went on to law school. Boyd asked the two attorneys to do the presentation, the second time they have led it.

"The people in the community that need this information, they're in production, they need this advice now -- that's who we encourage to come to this course," Bandy said.

"When we talk about filmmakers, it can be a shop that just does advertising or it can be a true indie filmmaker that's planning on getting distribution," said Levine.

"Or if anybody's still using 8-millimeter [film], heck, come on down," added Bandy.

Levine will briefly address some of the issues around the use and re-use of music in creative productions.

For instance, there's the difference between a "musical composition" and a "sound recording." Levine has long used the Beatles to explain the distinction.

Paul McCartney had the idea for "Hey Jude," and had it in his head for weeks. The second he sat down and wrote it out, he owned the copyright and the musical composition.

"The Beatles go in, record it, the very first 'sound recording' of that 'musical composition' was born. That song has been covered in virtually every genre and each time a brand new sound recording is done. So there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of sound recording copyrights to "Hey Jude." But there's only one musical composition where it all starts," he said.

All these rights can be confusing and confounding to know, but better to know than to be sorry later, he said.

"Frankly, it's a backgrounder to copyright and trademark law, being the two big areas that impact film," said Levine. "If we can have these people walk away understanding the broad concepts and being able to spot potential issues, before they happen, that's our goal."

Reach Douglas Imbrogno at douglas@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.


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