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Complications Ensue:
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Can a writer get sued for signing an NCND (non-circumention, non-disclosure agreement) by the funder of the movie? I am 'talent', should the writer be that involved in the business of making the movie? I mean, what if the executive producer violates the NCND and gets sued, would I get sued too just because my name is on it even though it wasn't actually me who violated it?
It is not normal for writers to be asked to sign ND agreements in show business. It is normal in the game business. The unconscionable standard agreement that showbiz writers are asked to sign is called a "release form," and often they say things like "If we independently make a movie similar or identical to yours, tough luck.

If you sign a reasonable ND agreement, you can be sued if you reveal confidential information about the project to the public. Since you're the writer, the only confidential information you normally would know is how the movie turns out. If you were the writer of BASIC INSTINCT, and you got mad at the producers and started telling everyone who done it (it's not who most people think, incidentally), you could be sued. If you were a "preditor" on SURVIVOR and revealed who won, you would definitely be sued. However, if you don't know confidential information, you can't be sued because you can't reveal it. And unless the ND agreement really is unconscionable, you can't be sued for the actions of someone who is not in your control.

Even if the producer violates it, I can't be sued? The writer is 'talent' and is apart from the business side of it all, so if the funder decides to sue production company, I can't be included in the lawsuit? Am I right about that?
You CAN be sued for almost anything. Whether you WILL be sued, or whether you can get the suit thrown out as frivolous, is a more important question. But generally, you should not be sued for things you did not do. You would presumably have a separate ND agreement from the one your producer is signatory to.

Caveat: it all depends on the actual wording of the contract you signed; and I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice. Don't sign anything unless you've had a legal expert look at it.



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