The Law of Ideas
The sharing of ideas promotes innovation, and the law recognizes this. Exchanging ideas, building on them, and even using someone else’s, all contribute to progress in areas like art and science. For this reason, you cannot copyright an idea. If your friend tells you their idea, and you act on it, you may be out a friend but you likely haven’t done anything unlawful.So what does a copyright protect? It protects tangible forms of ideas – books, movies, television shows, articles, art, etc. These are called “expressions” of an idea, and if someone else copies your expression, you may have a case for copyright infringement.Another way to protect an idea is to be careful when sharing it with others. You can’t sell your idea without presenting it to a potential buyer, so disclosure is necessary. You just need to make clear to the other party that you expect payment if your idea is used. If your idea is later stolen, you can’t sue for copyright infringement, but you can sue based on contract law.Here is more information on each type of case:Copyright infringement casesIf a work is copyrighted, another person can’t copy it and call it their own. Copyright is automatic and occurs when a work is “fixed in a tangible medium,” i.e. published. You can also register your copyright – it’s not necessary for protection, but it is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.In most copyright infringement cases, a book or movie isn’t copied word for word. Most cases fall into a large gray area, where a work is similar but not exactly the same. The test is whether the second has a “substantial similarity” to the first.It is not a violation to copy generic elements. For example, consider a television drama about an urban police department. There is nothing original about this; it’s been done many times. And in each there were similar elements – detectives with personal issues, relationships between two characters, a corrupt cop. There are only a few ways to present a television police drama, and they will inevitably have common elements. So it comes down to the specifics of how these elements are presented.When suing for copyright infringement, you have to prove that: (1) you owned a valid copyright, (2) the defendant had access to your work (saw it, read it, etc.) and (3) the defendant copied your work (by proving a substantial similarity between the two).Take precautions. Mark your work with a copyright symbol. If you are creating something, you may want to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, although some choose not to because it’s public record. If you are on the other side of this situation, and you anticipate being accused of infringement, get an attorney on board early in the process to help you avoid a problem. Also, there are some exceptions where using someone else’s work – or at least portions of it – is allowed. One is called “fair use,” where a work can be used educational purposes.Idea theft, or idea submission, casesThese cases usually involve a person who is trying to sell an idea – for a movie, book, or anything else – to a business. The idea is rejected, and then later the person finds out that their idea was actually used after all, and they weren’t paid for it.In order to successfully sue for idea theft, you have to prove that there was an expectation of payment if the idea was used and that the defendant was aware of that expectation. You are suing for breach of contract. The contract doesn’t have to be written and signed; it can be implied.When an idea is submitted, both the person presenting and the person receiving can take precautions to avoid a problem later on. For the idea presenter, it’s important to create a clear expectation of payment. You can ask the other party to sign a non-disclosure or similar agreement, although this might only be an option between parties who have worked together before. It should mention payment, or at least the expectation of payment, if your idea is used.If you are a business owner who is accepting a submission, there are things you can do to protect your business from liability, whether it’s requiring that your own agreement is signed before accepting submissions, or not accepting them at all, or altering the contracts given to you by those submitting work. An attorney can be helpful in deciding which precautions to take. If someone submits an idea that you already have and plan to use, you don’t want to be sued after rejecting the submission.This area of law doesn’t just affect publishing and the entertainment industry. Copyright infringement and idea theft can be an issue in any business. Works such as architectural drawings or plans, as well as photographs, are protectable, as well. Whether you have an idea or a work that you want to protect, or you are in a business that deals with others submitting their ideas, taking precautions ahead of time can prevent a lawsuit down the road.
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Hollywood Salaries Revealed, From Movie Stars to Agents (and Even Their Assistants)
9:00 AM PST 10/02/2014 by THR Staff368270EmailPrintCommentsIllustration by: Wren McDonald
Who rakes in a whopping $75 million? Who are the highest-paid TV stars? And how much can you make working in an agency mailroom? In its Money Issue, THR reveals how much people are earning now, from stars including Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl and the ‘Duck Dynasty’ clan to top agents including Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell
This story first appeared in the Oct. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.FILM STARHow bad is the decline in actor salaries over the past decade? Despite the huge sums still being raked in by such superstars as Robert Downey Jr. (his $75 million comes from his 7 percent, first-dollar slice of Iron Man 3, as well as his $12 million HTC endorsement deal) and Sandra Bullock (a 15 percent, first-dollar deal on Gravity and about $10 million more for her summer hit The Heat), most actors are feeling a definite squeeze, especially those in the middle.”If you’re [a big star], you’re getting well paid,” says one top agent, “but the middle level has been cut out.” Sometimes with a hacksaw. Leonardo DiCaprio made $25 million (including bonuses) for The Wolf of Wall Street, while co-star Jonah Hill got paid $60,000. Granted, that’s an extreme example — Hill offered to do the part for scale (and got an Oscar nomination for his trouble).See more Highly Paid Film StarsBut studio cost-cutting has meant that mid-level stars are being nickel-and-dimed in ways that would have been unheard of in the gilded ’90s (i.e., Marvel Studios’ reportedly offering Mickey Rourke a mere $250,000 to star opposite Downey in Iron Man 2). Before breaking out the violins, though, remember that even mid-level stars are far better off than most other actors. According to the most recent SAG statistics, the average member earns $52,000 a year, while the vast majority take home less than $1,000 a year from acting jobs.Click to enlargeSee more 10 Highest Grossing Movie SequelsAGENT $200K-$10MLike everyone in Hollywood, the talent agencies have been tightening their belts. “Your biggest concern used to be, ‘Would I get a $100,000 bonus or a $200,000 bonus?’ ” recalls one veteran agent wistfully. “Ha! Things have changed.” Those bonuses still happen, they just require a hot client (or five). CAA generally pays more than WME, UTA, Gersh, ICM and Paradigm, yet salaries increasingly are tied to what an agent brings in. And an agency will overpay to lure a top agent (and his clients). Generally speaking, though, starting agents can expect to earn $50,000 to $65,000; more senior agents make around $200,000; partners make $400,000 to $700,000; and board members — like CAA’s Bryan Lourd and WME’s Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel — can earn as much as $10 million. In rare circumstances, bonuses based on client earnings can turn mid-level agents into $1 million-a-year employees. In short, top talent breeds top salaries.Tracey Jacobs at UTA is said to be earning upward of $9 million — and she reps Johnny Depp.Read more Studio Perks of the Hollywood Exec: Home Screening Rooms, Private Jets, Huge Expense AccountsAGENT’S ASSISTANT $10-$13 AN HOURAt most agencies, you start in the mailroom, hope an assistant’s desk opens up, then dream of ascending the assistant ladder so you can be on the receiving end of middle-of-the-night email rants from top agents. At CAA, though — where Richard Lovett has five assistants and Kevin Huvane has four — you start as an assistant and move up to the mailroom agent-training program.ANIMAL ACTOR $5K-$108KCrystal the monkey earned $108,000 in 2012 for appearing in nine episodes of NBC’s Animal Practice. That’s more than most of the below-the-line talent featured in this story and twice as much as the average actor, who earns $52,000, according to SAG-AFRTA. But most animals work for peanuts: The day rate for a dog or cat in Hollywood is $400, with most earning $5,000 to $10,000 a year.Crystal the monkeyCINEMATOGRAPHER$5K-$30K A WEEKTop directors of photography, of which there are probably about 10 to 15 in the industry, can command $25,000 to $30,000 a week on movies that shoot up to 12 weeks — maybe even a little more, according to insiders. That select circle of top cinematographers would include 11-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins, Gravity Academy Award winner Emmanuel Lubezki andMartin Scorsese’s frequent collaborator Robert Richardson. On a big-budget studio movie — say, $80 million or more — an experienced cinematographer can expect to earn $10,000 to $20,000 a week. On a low-budget indie fare, DPs often take home $2,000 to $5,000 a week. On TV productions, the range is $5,000 to $8,000 a week.FILM DIRECTOR $250K-$20M A PICTURE”The middle range doesn’t exist anymore,” one studio executive says of the current financial landscape for feature film directors. “Either you’re paying for a modern master, or you’re paying a lot less. The days of paying $3 million or $4 million, knowing they’re just doing the job, that doesn’t exist.”The going rate for modern masters? Between $7 million and $10 million for auteurs like Paul Greengrass and Ridley Scott, more if the film is considered a tentpole. Christopher Nolan is said to have made $20 million against 20 percent of gross for Interstellar. Backend is otherwise rare these days for the non-A-list.On the other end of the scale, emerging directors can expect $250,000 to $500,000 for their first big studio feature, but there are exceptions (one European auteur was said to have recently have been paid $1 million for his first Hollywood blockbuster).TV DIRECTOR $25K-$42K AN EPISODETV directors, of course, are an entirely different species, and get paid in a different way. The base DGA rate is $25,145 for a half-hour episode and $42,701 for an hour. But unlike writers, directors sometimes helm all 22 episodes of a season — it’s just too much work. But some big-name pilot directors (David Nutter, Jason Winer and Pam Fryman) get an executive producer credit and a stake in the show, which is how Bryan Singer is said to have made tens of millions for directing the pilot of House M.D.ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER $2M-$6M Maybe more, if you’re Skip Brittenham, who is rumored to take home $10 million a year. After a practice builds up, a lawyer can receive 30 percent of what the firm earns from his or her clients. With a big enough list, that easily can add up to millions. But even first-year attorneys can do OK, earning $135,000 to $165,000 (enough to pay off law school).Read more The Hollywood Reporter Reveals Hollywood’s 100 Favorite FilmsEXTRA $148 A DAYBut there’s a “bump” of $50 a day for wearing a hairpiece, or if you’re working in challenging conditions (rain, smoke). There’s also overtime — a full day of pay for every hour after 16 hours — which has been known to happen on movie sets.GAME SHOW HOST $1M-$10MQuiz masters make between $25,000 a week (for a syndicated show) to upward of $75,000 a week (for a primetime program). Unless, of course, you’re Alex Trebek, Jeopardy!’s 30-year host— in which case you take home the $10 million-a-year jackpot.LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST $3M-$30MLate night’s recent round of musical chairs hasn’t changed the pay all that much — unless you’reStephen Colbert, said to be in line to earn a bit more as David Letterman’s replacement on CBS than the $15 million a year he gets from Comedy Central. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart remains the top earner at $25 million to $30 million a year. Jimmy Fallon is said to be making a little less annually than Jay Leno’s$15 million for hosting The Tonight Show (and a lot less than the $25 million Leno made before he took a pay cut). And Seth Meyers barely can afford an applause sign at $3 million.MANAGER $250K-$300KBonuses are the name of the game in the management business. They’re tied to commissions — one big client can be worth millions. Starting managers make $50,000 to $60,000 and are expected to bring in two to three times their pay in commissions. Top partners can pull in seven figures. And unlike agents, managers can produce projects, bringing in additional fees.NETWORK TV PRESIDENT $2M-$3MThe usual base salary for running the entertainment division of a major broadcast network is $2 million, but a $3 million base is not unheard of. And bonuses can double that salary. Still, says one former network president: “It’s not like these are jobs people lust after — they’re too hard. The really fun jobs are running cable networks, a job like head of programming at AMC, because you have more opportunity to be creative.”PORN STAR $120KThat’s what an “average” porn star makes in a year, according to Joanne Cachapero of the Free Speech Coalition, the closest thing adult film has to a guild. Big-name female performers — what Cachapero calls “top flight” — can earn $200,000 or more (men, for once, earn less, though they tend to have longer careers). But there’s a limit to even the most successful porn star’s earning power. “Unlike mainstream performers,” says Cachapero, “adult performers have less opportunity to diversify revenue by adding streams like merchandising and endorsements.”STUDIO CHIEF $5M-$15MYour average studio chief — think Alan Horn, Brad Grey and Amy Pascal — earns a base salary of about $5 million. But bonuses and other sweeteners (structured on box office and production output, among other factors) usually amount to two to three times that payday. Plus, the job comes with the best perks in Hollywood, from private jet rides to 24-hour assistants.Click to enlargePRODUCER$250K-$2MThe number of producers whose fees top $2 million — such aces as Jerry Bruckheimer, Scott Rudin, Brian Grazer and Neal H. Moritz — can be counted on two hands (plus maybe a foot). Moritz now tops the list, surpassing Bruckheimer with his rich Fast & Furious 7 deal. Rudin is said to have a quote of $2.5 million against 7.5 percent of first-dollar gross. But one dealmaker says no one is earning true first-dollar gross as in the old days. Instead, “everybody reduces before a film is greenlit and agrees to be part of a cash-break pool.” The PGA does not share average producer salaries, but a newbie typically earns $250,000, while a hot actor making a foray into producing earns $500,000 to $750,000 with some backend. Established actors with successful producing track records can take home considerably more — like Adam Sandler, who earned $5 million to produce Grown Ups 2 (not nearly as much as the $20 million he received to star in the film).Read more TV Premiere Dates 2014-15: The Complete GuidePUBLICIST $27K-$400KUnlike agents, managers and lawyers, PR reps typically are paid a monthly fee, not a percentage of income. That makes a big difference. A partner at a large firm makes $200,000 to $300,000, though some of the bigger flaks are rumored to pull in nearly $400,000. Publicists with A-list clients earn $100,000 to $150,000 (though fees vary depending on how many clients are “on,” or paying monthly fees), while midlevel reps (five to seven years of experience) take home $50,000 to $80,000. The entry-level flack at the red carpet and premiere parties who can’t find your name on her clipboard makes $27,000 to $35,000.STUNT PERSON $50K-$1MHow much would you charge to jump a motorcycle over a wall and into a swimming pool? How about driving a semi tractor-trailer 65 miles an hour off a ramp and 30 feet into the air? Tom McComas, 44, who has done all that and much more as a stuntman in The Dark Knight andMission: Impossible movies, earns about a half-million dollars a year, and some make even more. Yuen Woo-Ping, who worked on the Matrix films and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was said to have earned $1 million annually at his peak. But those are exceptions — most risk their necks for far less.The AFTRA rate for stunt work is $889 a day. That’s about $50,000 a film, assuming one works every day during a three-month shoot. And work, by the way, is getting harder to come by in L.A. thanks to productions moving to Louisiana, Georgia and other low-cost states, where local stunt workers grab most of the jobs. “I was in the top 1 percent, making $250,000 a year,” says a Hollywood stuntwoman who has doubled for Linda Hamilton and Jamie Lee Curtis. “But in the last two years, that has gone down by $100,000.” She estimates the average working stunt person makes only $50,000 to $100,000 a year.That’s barely enough to cover a daredevil’s insurance premiums, let alone pay the bills when he or she takes the inevitable spill. “I was doubling Jim Carrey in Yes Man, on the back of a scooter on Sunset Boulevard with the girl doubling Zooey Deschanel,” recalls McComas. “A car that was supposed to slide by us hit us at 50 miles per hour. She shattered her pelvis; I jumped, flipped in the air and herniated a couple of disks.” He was out of work for eight months. “When you’re hurt, you show up the next day and you’re fired. Basically we’re blue-collar workers who punch the clock. I went from $10,000 a week to $900 a week on disability. The bottom line for a stuntman is: Don’t get hurt.”COMMERCIAL VOICE ACTOR $3K-$1M AN ADYou can do it on bad hair days, and it pays great. More and more top stars are lending their voice to TV and radio commercials. Robert Downey Jr. for Nissan, Morgan Freeman for Visa,Jon Hamm for Mercedes, Tim Allen for Michigan Tourism, Kevin Spacey for Honda, Lisa Kudrow for Yoplait, Queen Latifah for Pizza Hut … the list goes on and on. “The trend in terms of celebrities doing voiceover has been distinctly upward,” says Jeff Danis, president of DPN Talent, an agency that specializes in commercial voiceover work. Big names like Freeman and Allen can command more than $1 million for an ad, which usually requires only a day’s work.But major stars account for only about 20 percent of the voices you hear in commercials. The other 80 percent — non-celebrity voice actors — don’t make nearly that kind of dough. Typically, they’ll earn scale, which works out to about $3,000 to $5,000 an ad.Jon Hamm is the voice of Mercedes.TV STARS $150K-$1M AN EPISODEIt used to be when movie stars did a TV show, it was seen as slumming. Now it’s considered moving on up. Just this summer, Oscar winner Halle Berry debuted on CBS’ Extant, and this fallKatherine Heigl stars on NBC’s State of Affairs, while Tea Leoni plays a better-dressed version of Hillary Clinton on CBS’ Madam Secretary. Each of these actresses is being paid $150,000 an episode, the going rate for luring big-screen names to TV (for a 22-episode season, it adds up to $3.3 million). That’s a far cry from the $15,000 to $25,000 per episode an unknown actor is offered for a series regular role. But established TV actors with virtually no big-screen experience can do very well. Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting now will make $1 million an episode on The Big Bang Theory (up from $350,000). Then there’s Mark Harmon, who makes north of $500,000 per episode of NCIS, and Ashton Kutcher, who earns $750,000 per episode of Two and a Half Men — or about $34,000 a minute. With paychecks like that, who needs a film career?PRIVATE CHEF $75K-$200KMichelin-starred private chefs obviously can make more — but there are other ingredients in the salary recipe, like whether the client requires odd-hour meals or has a special diet. According to Christian Paier, owner of L.A.-based Private Chefs Inc., pairing a chef with a star or industry client can be as challenging as matchmaking: “Some of these clients spend more time with their chef than with their spouse — they travel with their chef wherever they go. It’s a very intimate thing.”SHOWRUNNER $30K-$100K AN EPISODEAt 22 episodes a season, that adds up to $660,000 to $2.2 million a year. A select few creator-runners make considerably more, like Matthew Weiner (who got $30 million for the last three years of Mad Men).REALITY STAR: PRACTICALLY NOTHING-$200K AN EPISODESure, if you’re a member of the Duck Dynasty clan — or a Kardashian — you can make millions (like Kourtney and Kim’s reported $40 million, three-year deal with E!, or the Robertsonfamily’s more than $200,000 an episode deal with A&E for Dynasty). Even D-list celebs who go onWife Swap can make decent money: $10,000 to $20,000 an episode. But for the vast majority of reality show performers — unfamous Bachelor contestants and other run-of-the mill reality hopefuls — jury duty pays better. You’re given a minimal stipend to compensate for missed wages, and that’s pretty much it. The real money in reality comes from parlaying your TV profile into something larger, the way Housewives star Bethenny Frankel managed to land that $100 million Skinnygirl deal in 2011. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino spun six seasons on MTV’sJersey Shore into $9 million from endorsements of products including vitamins, clothing, jewelry and sunglasses. Those deals are rare these days, but on a more modest scale, hot-ish reality stars can pick up an easy $5,000 to $10,000 just for showing up for paid “appearances” at bars and nightclubs.See more Titans of Comic-Con: Stars Re-Create Classic CharactersFILM WRITER $100K-$1M A DRAFTFeature film writers’ incomes continue to slide. According to the WGA West, screenwriters in Hollywood earned a combined total of $331 million last year, down nearly 25 percent from 2009. But some of them are doing pretty well. A screenwriter who sells a draft to a major studio can earn about $100,000, and a hot writer can score $1 million or more. Super scribes such asAlex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Simon Kinberg pull in as much as $5 million annually in writers’ fees (more when you add in residuals and producing earnings), while other top screenwriters earn closer to $2 million.TV WRITER $3K-$6K A WEEKIn a gloomy Hollywood climate, the WGA says things are looking relatively bright for TV writers, who took in a combined total of $668.5 million last year, down just 6.2 percent from 2012. And TV residuals are booming: Last year, WGA members received $233.7 million in TV residuals, up 55 percent since 2012. Most staff writers work on 20-week contracts, at a rate of about $3,800 a week, though more senior writers earn about $6,000 a week. But the real money is in writing an entire episode on one’s own. That pays $24,788 a script, and considerably more if you create your own series (see “Showrunner”).•••BELOW THE LINE: The A to Z of Industry PayANIMATION DIRECTOR $200KART DIRECTOR $134KASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR $101KAWARDS SHOW PRODUCER $300KBEST BOY $92KBODY DOUBLE $33KBOOM MIC OPERATOR $87KCHAUFFEUR $56KCAMERA OPERATOR $96KCARPENTER $61KCOSTUME DEPT. SUPERVISOR $91KCOSTUMER $79KCRAFT SERVICES FOREPERSON $74KDOG HANDLER $54KDIALECT COACH $125KEDITOR $95KFIRE SAFETY ADVISER $73KFIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR $192KFOLEY ARTIST $88KGAFFER $59KGARDENER (STUDIO) $50KGRIP $102KHAIRSTYLIST $77KHAIRSTYLIST TRAINEE $66KLIGHTING TECHNICIAN (ENTRY-LEVEL) $53KLOCATION MANAGER $112KMECHANIC $59KMAKEUP ARTIST $100KMODEL BUILDER $68KMUSIC MIXER $111KNOVELIZATION WRITER $12,500 per bookPAYROLL ACCOUNTANT $66KPERSONAL ASSISTANT FOR A CELEBRITY $80KPROJECTIONIST (STUDIO) $72KPROP MASTER $59KPUBLICIST (STUDIO) $93KSCENIC ARTIST $81KSCRIPT SUPERVISOR $62KSCULPTOR $75KSET DECORATOR $104KSOUND EFFECTS EDITOR $88KTEACHER (ON-SET) $88KTRAILER EDITOR $81KWIGMAKER, CLASS 1 $59KWIGMAKER, CLASS 2 $69KWILD ANIMAL TRAINER $75K