26 Jan 030: Why You Should Avoid Back of a Napkin Agreements
American lawyer and China media expert, Jesse Weiner gives advice on how to protect your IP in China, what you need to attract a Chinese financier, and hope for a reset of US-China relations.
Jesse Weiner Co-Managing Partner, Head of Entertainment & Media Practice at YK Law https://www.yklaw.us talks about the danger of slapdash deals, the power (or lack of) US copyright in China, how to copyright your IP in China, and what you need to attract a Chinese financier.
THREE KEY POINTS
- Beware deals signed on the back of a napkin. Talk to a lawyer. Slapdash agreements can and usually do backfire. And be aware of the deal agreement’s jurisdiction. Moreover, if you plan on doing a project in China, it’s best to use a Chinese contract that is subject to Chinese law.
- Copyright your script in China. You can register online, but you need a Chinese phone number. You can buy a temporary Chinese number on Skye for a few dollars. The China copyright website is www.ccopyright.com. The organization is called the Copyright Protection Center of China (CPCC). 中国版权保护中心 Zhōngguó bǎnquán bǎohù zhōngxīn.
Remember it’s not automatic that a foreigner must hand over their copyright in order for the Chinese film producer to obtain the film license. You can give your Chinese producer an authorization letter to use your copyright to register your script with the film bureau. It all depends on the deal you make.
3. US copyright might not be enough. China recognizes the jurisdiction of the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office). Nonetheless, in a Chinese court – you will need a lot of foreign documents that must be notarized with your state consulate, authorized by the Chinese consulate, and much more. It’s cheaper just to get the Chinese copyright.
- How to stack the deck to attract a Chinese producer? Jesse mentioned Chinese studios prefer finished films (which means the risk is all on you). However, if you haven’t shot your film, you should have a). A completed script, b) a pitch deck c) finance plan, and d) make sure your project cab be exhibited in China (see my link to a blog 4 Ways to Beat the Chinese Censors below).
- US-China Political Relations. Jesse says it’s less likely the Biden administration will have the previous knee-jerk reaction to China. Consequently, there may be a more nuanced and realistic approach to China. This may lead to a thawing of the relations which means greater business for everyone.
- Learn some Chinese. No one expects a westerner to quickly master Mandarin. Even learning a few words or sentences will be greatly appreciated by your Chinese counterparts.
THE CHINA LIST
And writers, make sure you take advantage of our free trial on The China List. This is a membership website to connect writers, producers, talent reps, and financiers in Hollywood and China.
Additionally, producers, talent reps and financiers – find great material and writers before your competition by signing up to The China List.
China Hollywood Greenlight Podcast – Episode 30
Jesse Weiner Co-Managing Partner, Head of Entertainment & Media Practice
Host: Caryn McCann
Blog mentioned: 4 Ways to Beat the Chinese Censors https://wp.me/p8U8pg-5j
Guest: Jesse Weiner Co-Managing Partner, Head of Entertainment & Media Practice
Company: YK Law https://www.yklaw.us
The case mentioned during interview: Taiwan novelist wins plagiarism case against mainland scriptwriter