Film Prospectus

A film prospectus is a device used in the entertainment law film to raise capital for a film.  Included are materials which describe the film, including the script, the cast (if attached), and key personnel, such as the writer, director, and producers.  In addition to a budget, an operating agreement for the company which has been formed to produce the film is often also attached, and the price of shares or units in the film, are also described.   Lastly, warnings are included concerning the risks involved when investing in any film.


Landlord Discrimination in New York City

Donald Harwood is an attorney practicing in New York City and the executive producer of the film Frozen River. Donald Harwood specializes in areas of landlord-tenant litigation as well as commercial and appellate litigation.

In New York City, residents living in an apartment building, condominium, residential hotel, or government-assisted housing development are entitled to lawful protection from discriminatory acts by their landlord. The most obvious case of discrimination in the housing and rental industry is a refusal to sell or rent to a person or family due to race or religion. Landlords can also be found guilty of discriminatory practices if they misrepresent the availability of a property or adjust rental terms for a specific group of people. Advertisements that cater toward a certain ethnicity can be considered a another example of landlord discrimination. Landlords are also expected to provide equal facilities and amenities to all renters.

Individuals living with a physical or health-related disability can also become victims of landlord discrimination. Landlords must make any reasonable accommodation required by a person with such a disability. In any instance of possible discrimination, individuals should contact a New York attorney specializing in landlord-tenant litigation as well as the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

Using Trademarks and Copyrights in Movies

Donald Harwood is the founding member of Harwood Reiff, LLC, in New York City. Over the course of his career, he has practiced in various areas of law, ranging from real estate litigation to work in entertainment law for the 2008 film Frozen River. Donald Harwood, who assisted the film with product placement and contract reviews, also served as an executive producer on Frozen River.

Filmmakers, particularly those on a budget, should be aware of the fact that it is not always necessary to contact the owners or manufacturers of trademarked products which appear in their film so long as they are not passed off as a “badge of origin.” This means that characters can film a scene while holding a brand name cup of coffee without requesting permission from the company as long as there is no confusion generated about the maker’s origin. A further warning, however, casting such a product in a negative light could lead to a trademark tarnishment lawsuit.

Using copyrighted work is generally forbidden without the consent of the copyright holder. There are a few instances in which this rule may be broken, such as in the event of incidental use of a copyrighted work. For example, if during a scene an actor passes a building outfitted with a copyrighted work of art, the filmmaker may not need to seek permission. If the scene lingers on the work of art or features the work prominently throughout the scene, the copyright holder may make the case that the use was not incidental.