Ryan Jacobson gave a 3-hour lecture to DePaul University students enrolled in a class called, Entertainment Law for Film Producers and Screenwriters. The lecture was titled, "Privacy Rights, Camera, Action! A Primer for Filmmakers."
Ryan spoke to budding producers and screenwriters about the legal pitfalls they may face when making a film or television show based upon real life characters or events. Students were guided through the rights of publicity, liability for defamation and for intrusion, and Ryan covered drafting and negotiating participation releases and life rights.
Ryan's presentation incorporated clips and a discussion of the legal hurdles faced by Sacha Baron Cohen for "Borat" and "Who is America?," as well as the releases his legal team relied upon to prevail in court. Ryan also explained the obstacles he faced in recent negotiations with Clint Eastwood's studio over the December premiere of their newest feature, "The Mule." That film was inspired by the life and trials of a 90 year-old man with ties to the Mexican drug cartel and will star Clint himself, as well as Bradley Cooper and Laurence Fishburne. The three hour presentation closed with a video clip of a woman who testified before the U.S. Senate seeking to influence a change in the law after her minor daughter was sexually exploited, trafficked and murdered as a result of being featured by her captor on a publication known as "Backpage." Ryan is working in tandem with that woman's personal counsel after various filmmakers sought to option her life rights.
Attendees left with a high-level understanding of the law of film and television, and they were encouraged to use their craft to influence public opinion and give publicity to the heroes who live among us.