How to Make a Living from Movie Copyright

The economic success of a movie depends on matching ideas with talent, obtaining relevant intellectual property (IP) rights and using those rights to attract finance from commercial film distributors. Generating income from movies is closely related to understanding and managing copyright and related rights, which are present throughout the development of content, financing, marketing and distribution of films. Clarity on copyright ownership and its use protect the interests of all stakeholders and facilitate financing and distribution, help avoiding costly disputes and reduce the risk of future legal problems.

Movies are the result of collaborative efforts. Bringing about the creative chemistry requires the engagement and talent of producers, authors and performing artists among others, and striking a balance in the negotiation of the rights and remuneration of all relevant contributors.

Film Production House is a Pioneering User of IP in Southeast Asia.

Film production

Film production is based on an assurance that all of the rights on all the underlying material used to produce a completed script are acquired or licensed, including the rights of the writer (or writers) commissioned to write the film script. The producer needs to be able to produce written evidence that they are in control of all those rights. This paperwork is known as “chain of title” and it is important because no bank or other source of funding in the mature film industries will financially support a film without assurance that the production will not be halted by a court injunction.

Film production is always a team effort with complementary functions assumed by film producers, executive producers, associate producers or production companies

Film distribution

Film distribution generates revenue from the underlying copyright by releasing the film to the public or licensing the rights to sub-distributors who will release to the public in specific territory, language and medium as per the distribution agreement.

Film studios play a major role in film creation, production and distribution. They maintain distribution offices in each of the principal territories following their global distribution strategy. Film studios are also potential financiers of the film.

From Script to Screen

Copyright for Audiovisual Industry Professionals

“From Script to Screen” provides small and medium sized independent filmmakers with practical insights and advice on how to ensure efficient distribution of their audiovisual content while making use of their intellectual property.


Film financing

Film financing is crucial at all stages of filmmaking – for negotiating the licensing or acquisition of the underlying rights on the scrip or the commissioning of the script, for covering production costs, ensuring loans and options. Various forms of financing are available – from debt financing, through participation deals and equity financing to crowdfunding. The most valuable asset in film financing are the IP rights in the film.

Film licensing and assignment

Filmmakers need to take a decision on the relationship that they will keep with the intellectual property in the film – will they license or assign the underlying film rights. The advantage of a film assignment over a film license is very clear from a producer’s point of view: a license only grants rights for a limited time, whereas an assignment is most often a full-period-of-copyright term.

Video on demand rights

VOD platforms are increasingly important and step in right after the theatrical window for films. Video on demand (VOD) increases substantially the range of opportunities for film producers to license their rights to VOD platforms. VOD has a profound impact on the existing distribution models. The growth of the online VOD market, especially of subscription-based online services (SVOD) has been impressive.

Rights, Camera, Action!

Intellectual Property Rights and the Filmmaking process

Rights, Camera, Action! offers guidance on how to use intellectual property protection to generate business opportunities. With practical advice and enriching case studies from developing countries “Rights, Camera, Action!” will help individual filmmakers and distributors monetize their creative content.


Learning resources on film copyright

Rights, Camera, Action – Training on the Filmmaking Process


  • Module 1: Development PPT, Module 1: Development

  • Module 2: Using IP rights to finance and commercialize audiovisual works PPT, Module 2: Using IP rights to finance and commercialize audiovisual works

  • Module 3: Working with actors and directors video

From Script to Screen – Training on Copyright for Filmmakers


  • Module 1: Copyright for Film Professionals video

  • Module 2: Ownership of Film Copyright video

  • Module 3: How Copyright Leads to Revenues video

  • Module 4: It Takes a Village video