Partner Lisa Callif authored the article, “Cinema Law: Do I Need to Obtain Life Rights?” published by MovieMaker magazine, addressing the very first question a writer should ask before developing a script on an actual person. When writing a story on a known figure, the facts related to his or her life story are public domain, so they are able to write about them without obtaining permission to do so.
However, even when something is in the public domain, it is often a good idea to acquire an underlying property. It makes the studios and financiers feel more comfortable, it is easier to obtain Errors & Omissions insurance, and you will have access to information that comes straight from the source.
Ms. Callif also mentions that those who ask to obtain life rights, but are denied, may have a difficult time obtaining E&O insurance because it is seen as a “pre-existing condition.”