You are a creative person who has found out about someone with a compelling story, and you’d like to develop a book, TV show or film based on their life. But in the middle of your excitement and creative rush, it hits you: “Maybe I need to get permission first, but how?” Here is what you need to know about Life Rights Agreements and how they can help you develop your project and minimize the risk of problems down the road.
What is a Life Rights Agreement?
Simply put, a Life Rights Agreement (LRA), also called a Life Story Agreement, is an agreement that grants a person or company the right to purchase and develop someone else’s life story into some type of media. Getting permission to tell a person’s story is important, as every state recognizes a person’s “right of publicity”. That is, that a person has the right to prevent unauthorized commercial use of their name, likeness, and other recognizable aspects of their life.
Why do you need an LRA?
If you are the one trying to tell a story, an LRA decreases the possibility of a lawsuit in connection with your project. When a person signs a LRA, they are giving a writer, filmmaker, studio or producer permission to tell their story and promising that they will not sue for invasion of privacy, defamation or other potential claims. The agreement may also contain adaptation rights, which can help facilitate your project because you won’t need to try to go back and secure them later.
An LRA may also be beneficial to the person whose life story is going to be told. If you have a life story you believe is marketable, packaging an LRA with adaptation rights can help make it more attractive to creative professionals. An LRA also gives you a measure of control over how your story will be told. By negotiating and working with the creative team interested in your story, you can be more certain that they know what they are doing and know more about how they are portraying you and your life.