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Actress In Anti-Muslim Film May Have Flimsy Copyright Case

October 1, 2012Article
Law360

An actress who appeared in the anti-Islam film that sparked protests around the world faces an uphill battle as she seeks to block distribution of the film by arguing that it infringes the copyright on her performance, since there is little legal precedent supporting an actor's claim to a copyright interest in a film, attorneys said.

Courts have rarely addressed the issue because virtually all professional productions require actors and others involved with a film to sign a work-for-hire agreement assigning to the producer the copyright in their contributions. According to Jesse Saivar of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, that sounds unlikely because work for hire language tends to be included in every film contract — regardless of how amateurish and low-budget the production is — to ensure that the producers have full copyright control of the film. If Garcia's contract didn't have that language, he would be shocked, he said.

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