Elements of Film

A movie or a television film consists of many elements. On one side; there are elements which grant copyright on the film such as scenario, dialogue, director and original film soundtrack and these may be deemed as basic elements of a film. On the other side; there are elements which are mostly related to services and do not grant copyright on the film such as camera, light and film crew. Post production process should also be considered in this technical context. Also there are some other film elements which are more ambiguous in terms of copyright and authorship.

It is possible to mention about elements which provide a basis to an element of the film but not deemed as direct elements. As an example, if the scenario is an adaptation of a novel or a story, scenario will be accepted as a derivative work since it is based on such novel or story. Therefore, relevant novel or story should be taken into consideration as an indirect element because it is possible for novel's author to cease distribution of the film unless a license has been duly granted from the author.

In this context, evaluation of film elements and relevant rights under Turkish Copyright Law becomes more of an important issue. This evaluation shall determine which elements will grant author rights on the film, which of them will need to be licensed, which of them are technical elements and finally which agreements should be executed.

Using Other Works in a Film

Although not directly granting authorship rights on a film, elements which are "deemed as an individual work" may be used in a film. For instance; can we use a poem of a famous poet in a character's speech or can we play a song as the background music in a film? It should be stated that license agreements are a must in order to use these independent works in a film.


There is another agreement group which is confusing at first glance. For example, what is the position of the film's leading actor or other actors against copyright law? If well-known voices will be used for dubbing, what would be the rights of these voice artists? Amendments on Turkish Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works made in 2001-2004, may be interpreted in different ways. What an actor does is to act his/her role according to the scenario and the director's directives. It is beyond dispute that the Law does not accept actors as "one of the authors of the Film". On the other hand, there is no explicit provision of Law regulating the status of film's actors. Disputes mostly focus on the question if actors and voice artists are accepted as a 'performer', or in other words, do they have neighboring rights in the film? In this respect, agreements which will be executed with actors should be drafted in accordance with these interpretations and considerations.

Assistant Directors

Finally, last group is the agreements executed with assistant and co-directors. It is crucial to have agreements with artists who add value to film's artistry such as the art director or the director of photography. In spite of the fact that the Law excludes these directors from the scope of authors of the film, relevant agreements should be drafted considering their major artistic contribution.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.