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copyright Writer died and publisher went bankrupt

Hello,

I am writing a screenplay based on an autobiography of a woman who has died over 10 years ago. Furthermore the publisher went bankrupt 10 years ago. So what now? Do I need consent from someone to continue my screenplay or when I try to sell it?

Thanks a lot!
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
This is going to be a challenge. You do need permission to base a
screenplay on an autobiography. Finding out who currently owns
the rights is not going to be easy. But right now someone owns the
rights to the woman's story and book.

Under other circumstances I would not give you this advice, but
in this case your best option might be to write the screenplay and
deal with the rights after you get some interest in it. Even if you
can't get the needed permission the experience will be worth the
effort.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
How famous is this person? Can you change the names and use it as inspiration?
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
Meaning, if they are not famous, changing banes doesn't matter to your audience and you can let her stories inspire you instead of copying them.
 
Thanks, yeah pretty famous, also if I would not start the script with: "The following story is based on true events" nobody would believe this story, as its that crazy. So I def need permission. Hmm I guess I could track down the family or the owner of the published book. But yeah it might be better just trying to sell this story first, I could always do the effort when I can get this thing sold.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
They will probably want to approve it as well. You could pound it out and they say no, after all. Best bet is to ask, if you can get the rights without a contingency, then you should go for it.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
By the way there is something called a Life's Rights Agreement. This grants you the rights to someone's life story. You need a layer involved because this gets tricky. There is a book. So how do you tell the story of someone's life without that publisher saying you turned their book into a movie? I don't know. Also in New York those rights are only reserved for the living, and in California, you still need to secure them. It's very involved.
 
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