Skip to main content

Film Buffs: Daily Journal Features Donaldson + Callif’s Exceptional Fair Use and Clearance Work

The attorneys at Donaldson + Callif were highlighted for their fair use prowess and clearance know-how in the Daily Journal feature “Film Buffs.” The firm’s attorneys were praised as the legal minds bolstering some of the film industry’s most prominent works, such as Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” and the Oscar-nominated documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?”

In the article, Donaldson + Callif attorneys discuss the wide variety of work they do for their clients, which is not just limited to fair use and clearance work. “I’d say 50 percent of our practice is outside of clearance, which is production legal and distribution and development type work,” says Partner Lisa Callif.

The real-world effects of film are a large part of the Donaldson + Callif attorneys’ passion for what they do. Partner Michael Donaldson cited Mrs. Callif’s work on the documentary “The Invisible War” as an example, as it led to the Secretary of Defense altering the ways in which sexual assault complaints are handled. “Film can be the most powerful medium in the world,” says Mr. Donaldson.

When asked about the recent increase of documentary projects, Partner Christopher Perez attributes the documentary boom partially to the firm’s work. “I think people are starting to realize that they can do a little bit more legally than they thought they could in terms of putting their own spin on a story,” he says.

Donaldson + Callif’s results speak for themselves, but they don’t have to, as their clients are quick to praise the firm. “They’re the best at what they do,” Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim says. “There is no second choice. It’s not only what I think—it’s what the insurance companies and studios think.”

Though the firm worked on roughly two dozen films that screened at Sundance Film Festival this year, they are not resting on their laurels. In addition to client work, upcoming projects include working with the Register of Copyrights to create a small claims court for copyright cases and remove the U.S. Copyright Office from under the Library of Congress, as well as working to reform statutes concerning abandoned film projects.