Explore different contracts of intellectual property

in movie industry (USA) for Project Managers



By Colombe Gruau

SKEMA Business School

Paris, France



As the project management science evolved, the influence of intellectual property components and contracts over the objectives of the projects has increased. Contracts need to fit in this changing environment. Contracts can play a meaningful role in the project’s success. Specific IP contacts hold tremendous potential in improving project management. The fundamental aim of this research is to evaluate how and to what extent specific IP contracts can affect project management. The paper ran a literature review on recent research to assess the main challenges with traditional contracts. Then, the paper established the awaited impact of specific IP contracts in movie industry on several aspects of the project manager’s activity. Finally, the paper analyzed how each effect and action of IP contracts can contribute to project management performances. The obtained results have shown that IP contracts could literally improve project management in many ways such as the efficiency and transparency in the management of project.

Keywords:  IP contract issue, Rights, Process, Script, Screen, USA, International, Copyrights, Movie Industry, knowledge, Intellectual Property


Intellectual property is protected by law, for example through patents, copyrights and trademark registrations, which provides recognition and financial benefit to these creators. American cinema is now considered to be the industry that has most profoundly shaped and transformed cinema during its first century of existence, both in terms of content and techniques and in economic and cultural terms. In this profession, project management exists in a spectrum of industries, ranging from engineering and construction to information technology and manufacturing.

Table 1 Comparison of the Guild definition and the Movie industry definition [1]

Figure 1: Forms of contracts of Intellectual Property[2]

Here shown in Figure 1 are the main different contracts between the actors and the producer in the movie industry but also the forms of contracts between the actors and the theaters.

The purpose of intellectual property is to protect all forms of work such as series, documentaries, feature films, and short films and to avoid copying them in order to protect the creator.

The American film industry today holds a major place in our societies. He is internationally recognized, and his films are translated into different languages. According to the statistics of the National Film Centre in Paris, it can be seen that in the majority (if not all) of European countries the place of the American film industry overshadows that of the local one. The issue of copyright is an important element in the United States that has changed significantly over the past century, from 75 years from the date of publication to now 70 years after the author’s death if it is an individual author or from 95 to 120 years from the date of creation if it is a collective work. These last modifications try to cope with the digitization of data. Hollywood has recently pointed to some platforms in this new era of digitization, including Watch Series, Put locker”, TUBE+, Couch Tuner, Watch32, Project Free TV and Watch Free. The latter infringe copyright rules.

Managing well the different clauses in the movie industry are related to the way to manage a project in business development. Understanding that it’s essential to have clauses that protect both parties if there is a violation of the intellectual property of an artwork. In fact, the purpose of these contracts is to protect the creator’s work and give him rights to defend himself. The copyright owner may be the author, producer or publisher of the work in the cinema industry. A good understanding of intellectual property in cinema requires us to know a wide range of copyright relating to different elements of production, namely the script music, the director’s work, and the actors’ performance. However, it is important that each of these rights is properly described, transferred and assigned so that the producer can claim ownership of the film and license the related distribution rights.


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Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

How to cite this paper: Gruau, C. (2019). Explore different contracts of intellectual property in movie industry (USA) for Project Managers, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue I (January).  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/pmwj78-Jan2019-Gruau-intellectual-property-contracts-in-movie-industry.pdf


About the Author

Columbe Gruau

Paris, France




Colombe Gruau is a 24 year old French student, currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Project and Program Management and Business Development at Skema Business School.  Since her youngest age, she has a strong entrepreneural mindset and a powerful passion about digital technology and the Movie Industry.   After gaining significant experience from different positions in different industries, such as movie production, she worked closely with the best production managers.

Her numerous international experiences (internships, exchange semester) gave her the opportunity to develop adaptability and to become a confident problem solver. Being open-minded and world oriented increased her innovative skills. She is highly interested in project management and her main upcoming challenges, and is getting certified by Prince2, AgilePM, CAPM.

Colombe is not only defined by professional experiences. She has also several hobbies, including water skiing and wakeboarding, scuba diving and surfing. She loves to travel the world (Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, USA, Europe, etc.) and discover new fields.

You can contact her at [email protected] or https://www.linkedin.com/in/colombegruau/


[1] (By Author)

Adapted from a Linked In discussion initiated by William R. Duncan  1/13/2018-https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6357416976318558208/

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Folger, J. (2010, March 31). The Economics Of Summer Blockbuster Movies. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0410/the-economics-of-summer-blockbuster-movies.aspx

Giammalvo, Paul D. (2015). Course Materials. Contributed Under Creative Commons License BY v 4.0. Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/introduction-to-managing-project-controls

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[2] 10 Main Forms of Primary Rights | Intellectual Property. (2016, July 12). Retrieved from http://www.biologydiscussion.com/biotechnology/intellectual-property-rights/10-main-forms-of-primary-rights-intellectual-property/38153