It was reported in September 2018 that the Video on Demand (VOD) giant, Netflix, acquired Genevieve Nnaji’s directional debut movie, Lion Heart, for about $3million. This is a remarkable feat for the actress cum director. One of the requirements that Netflix places on film producers before content can be licensed or acquired, is that the producer must show evidence of ownership of title to the movie or has the authority to license the same to Netflix. Irrespective of the quality of the script, the acting or the film, no company will expose itself to the risk of a potential lawsuit. As such, the importance of establishing the chain-of-title of the documentation for any movie at inception cannot be over-emphasized.
Chain-of-title documentation refers to a series of documents or agreements that establish ownership rights in a film and all its parts. Such documentation would consist of copies of the original agreements with all parties engaged to feature in the making of a film. The chain-of-title documentation, given to any potential investor or interested party, will upon review, reveal to such an investor where the proprietary interest in each part of the film lies.
Additionally, section 10(4) of the Copyright Act places an obligation on every film producer to conclude all contracts with all persons whose works will be used in the movie prior to commencing the shooting of the movie. As such, not putting in place the chain-of-title documentation will not only prevent the film from attracting lucrative licensing and acquisition deals, it will also be a contravention of the Copyright Act.
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