How to copyright a film?

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: Jun 22 2004


I am in post production of a documentary.

I am looking to sell the rights, and get royalties per sale.

I was wondering how I would go about copyrighting the footage - as to not be screwed over at any stage. And how I would keep the title of the project as my own trademark, as I plan on keeping this and making a franchise out of the name.

Thanks in advance!

Christian Lett
Joined: Apr 26 1999

Under UK copyright law, you automatically own the copyright of the footage and the end product if you shot it and edited it. If a third party shot the footage, then the copyright belongs to them. You need to make sure they have licensed the footage to you for the purpose of producing a broadcastable documentary, or signed over the copyright to you.

As you'll be talking to TV networks, who all have their own teams of lawyers, I would consult a copyright lawyer, who will (at a cost) draft a contract for sale of the documentary to TV networks. This will outline everything from copyright to your terms and conditions.

However as a matter of course you should assert copyright on a title card at the end of the film:

©2007 - . All rights reserved.

On the DVD/tape master case and disk/tape itself, you should also assert copyright, with a bit extra:

©2007 - . All rights reserved. Any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance, copying or re-recording will constitute an infringement of copyright.

or words to that effect. Of course, you'll be authorising broadcast, but this will be explicitly agreed in a contract.

More info here:

Good luck - it's a minefield!

Christian Lett After Effects and Maya Artist

Joined: Jun 22 2004

Thanks for the help : )