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What is Fair Use in a Documentary Film? with Entertainment Lawyer, Michael C. Donaldson

With a maze of copyright laws to navigate, filmmakers need a hand in editing their movies to get them legally up to snuff. For this reason, Ondi and Vlad brought doc advocate and entertainment lawyer Michael C. Donaldson to clarify some of the key points surrounding Fair Use.

We discuss satire, using clips, and how filmmakers can secure the same rights of confidentiality as journalists.


Michael C. Donaldson is an American entertainment attorney, independent film advocate and a recipient of the International Documentary Association’s Amicus Award, an honor bestowed upon only two others, Steven Spielberg and John Hendricks, in the 25-year history of the awards. He is a proponent of the 165-year-old fair-use doctrine and, through its use, is known for saving documentarians hundreds of thousands of dollars while preserving their First Amendment rights.

In addition to serving as General Counsel to Film Independent (home of the Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival) and the Writers Guild of America/West Foundation, Donaldson practices at his Beverly Hills law firm, Donaldson & Callif, where, in 2008, entertainment attorney Lisa Callif became a named partner.

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