Ownership of Student Films

Because the College pays for each student’s production, the State of Florida retains the copyright to all student work. The following is the Florida State University regulation governing the ownership of student work.

Copyright and Chain of Title

Florida State University will maintain Chain of Title for all films and screenplays created by College students during their time in the College; this includes any work created while enrolled in any course at the College.

  • Original screenplays written for production – any screenplay, treatment, outline, or synopsis written to be produced at the College is owned by the College regardless of whether the story is produced or not. Stories developed for production, but not produced, become part of the College’s archive, and may or may not be produced at a future time at the discretion of the College. If these stories are ever produced, the original writer will receive a “story by” credit in the finished work.
  • Co-writers – in most cases the College requires that the student be the sole author of their work at the College. In some exceptions, the faculty will allow students to collaborate with other students as co-writers. Any co-writer must be approved by the administration (the appropriate faculty member and the Associate Dean) prior to any drafts being written. In some cases, the College may allow for collaboration with FSU students from other departments and in rare cases, with non-FSU students. Any approved co-writer that is not an FSU film student is considered work-for-hire and must sign an agreement giving the College all copyright in perpetuity. Failure to get approval or delivery of the necessary agreements can result in the student being dismissed for unethical conduct.
  • Adaptations –adaptations may be considered if the student is able to acquire the motion picture rights in all markets and in perpetuity, and to have those rights assigned to the College prior to the beginning of any writing class for which the screenplay is a requirement. Regardless, the proper clearance must be reviewed and approved by the Associate Dean.

The only exceptions to ownership by FSU are anything written by College students that were written as stand-alone works, not to be produced by the College. This can include stand-alone feature screenplays, teleplays, and stage plays, which are all owned by the writer.

FSU College of Motion Picture Arts Ownership Policy

As established by Florida State University Regulation 6C2R-6.0091 in the year of 1991, The Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts owns all interests to which students may be entitled in any student production, including federal and state copyright interests. To wit:

6C2R-6.0091
Ownership of Student-Produced Films: College of Motion Picture Arts

  1. Purpose and Intent: This rule establishes policy governing:
    1. The ultimate disposition of the student films;
    2. Promotion of the collective work of the College of Motion Picture Arts (the “Film School”);
    3. Protection of the reputation of the College. It is also intended to recognize the equity and interest of the individual students involved in their use of these films as portfolio pieces in the advancement of their careers; and
    4. Graduate and Undergraduate programs.
  2. Ownership of student productions:
    1. Upon admission to the College or prior to the commencement of workshop exercises and filming, the University shall require all students to sign an acknowledgement of university ownership of all student productions. Each student enrolling in the College, thereby agrees to be governed by this rule and accepts all terms and conditions set out herein.
    2. The acknowledgement shall contain substantially the following wording: “In consideration of admission to the College of Motion Picture Arts and other good and valuable consideration, I hereby acknowledge that the College is the owner of all interests to which I may be entitled in any student production, including federal and state copyright interests. I hereby further agree to be governed by all terms and conditions of the College as contained in Rule 6C2-6.0091, F.A.C.”
  3. Screenplays:
    1. Screenplays that are generated as “stand alone” products by students are the student’s individual property. They may be copyrighted in the student’s name and exploited commercially in whatever way the student wishes. However, the student will be responsible for all costs and liability associated with whatever use he or she makes of any student production.
    2. Screenplays that are submitted by the student for production either as exercises or as thesis films become the property of the university, if accepted, and if incorporated into such a film. The use of such a completed film, its screenplay and its other parts is governed by the policies set forth elsewhere in this rule.
  4. General Film and Video Works:
    1. This rule applies to student film and video products, regardless of state of completion.
    2. The Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts retains all rights to all student films and videos produced. In particular, the University is vested with exclusive rights and ownership to the copyright of all student works and with exclusive rights to exhibit, distribute and duplicate these films and videos and to enter into distribution or broadcast licensing arrangements, whether commercially or non-commercially.
    3. Subject to the conditions contained herein, the College will allow students to purchase prints of particular film and video productions on which they worked, the use of which is restricted exclusively to their inclusion in the students’ career portfolios. These prints and tapes shall not be exhibited, broadcast, distributed or duplicated in any fashion without explicit written permission from the Office of the Dean of the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts.
    4. The availability of such portfolio prints for purchase is always subject to approval by the College. If, for example, the College’s faculty considers a particular student film too elementary or too poorly executed to represent properly in public the typical level of student achievement at the College, it may decline to make it available to the student filmmakers involved. In this regard, the College attempts to protect the reputation of both current and future students.
    5. Students who are allowed to purchase prints of their films and videos will agree to assume full responsibility and all liability for any screening of those films for potential employers and others outside Florida State property.
      1. In the event any net revenues are derived from the commercial or non-commercial exhibition, distribution, broadcast or duplication of any particular student film or video, the principal student film or video makers involved in its production shall receive a royalty, the nature of which will be determined by the Dean or his designee or designees in consultation with the Office of the University Attorney. The payment of royalty to any student shall reflect general university royalty policies, as set out in the BOR/UFF Collective Bargaining Agreement, 1988- 1991, Article 18; The Florida State University Faculty Handbook, Section 7; and Rule 6C2- 6.009, F.A.C., which are incorporated by reference.
      2. The principal film or video makers involved in the production of a film or video are the writer, the director (or writer/director), the producer/production manager, the cinematographer, the editor and the audio supervisor. Should a student musical director/composer and/or art director function on the production, they also will be considered part of the team of principal film and video makers.
    6. Any student films that are not completed within the deadlines that are set are also the permanent and exclusive property of the College.
  5. Licenses, Contracts, Clearances, Waivers and Other Legal Agreements:
    1. The incorporation of certain elements into a student film, especially music, but also animation, art work, derivative story properties, and the use of certain types of real public or private property, may involve property that is protected by a variety of laws, including statutory copyright and common law. Students are responsible for securing appropriate legal releases for the use of such property and films; recognizing that releases may contain or be subject to constraints by law regarding their use. The faculty of the Film School will take such matters into consideration in deciding whether or not to make student film exercises and thesis films available for exhibition outside the university.
    2. The College will totally restrict the distribution of a student product when the appropriate releases have not been obtained for all materials used in the work.
  6. Film Festivals and Competitions:
    1. The College reserves the exclusive right to enter its student films and tapes in festivals and competitions, whether regional, national or international. If students request, the College may also agree to enter student “stand alone” scripts in competitions. Alternatively, students may enter their own scripts.
    2. Any financial prizes for “stand alone” scripts done by students will go directly to the individual student(s) who wrote the script.
    3. Any financial prizes won by student films or tapes made at the College will be placed in a student development fund, the revenues of which will be used to support student productions, scholarships or other student benefits.
    4. Any certificates or statuettes of award received by student films will be displayed at the appropriate facilities in Tallahassee.
  7. General Procedures:
    1. The College will retain the motion picture negatives and/or video master tapes of all student films made as part of its programs. These will be used as needed to make prints or printing masters for either students or the College.
    2. Each of the College’s completed productions will bear a copyright notice in the name of The Florida State University. At the time of its release, broadcast, exhibition or duplication the copyright will be registered with the Copyright Office by the College.
    3. Completed College student productions will bear full credit titles in the position and order prescribed by the College. Any College of Motion Picture Arts student productions that are released or exhibited will bear the FSU and College logo and name as the producing studio.

Specific Authority 240.227(1) FS. Law Implemented 240.229, 240.241 FS. History–New 5-27-91.