What to do if the owner of the company I work for has ordered me to create a promotional video using clips from a variety of movies but will not pay for the rights to use them?

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What to do if the owner of the company I work for has ordered me to create a promotional video using clips from a variety of movies but will not pay for the rights to use them?

He has offered to have his legal department draft a document clearing me of any wrong, stating that I was required to do this as a part of my job. Will this protect me? Can the legal department be be held accountable for aiding in this endeavor?

Asked on July 10, 2015 under Business Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, that document will NOT protect you from litigation (such as being sued by the rights holders, whose rights you violated) or from, potentially, criminal charges (think about the "FBI Warning" at the start of videotapes--certain forms of copyright violation can, under the wrong circumstances, lead to criminal prosecution). The law holds people accountable for their own wrongful acts--your employer could be sued, too, but that may be cold comfort toyou. Your employer can offer--and if it does, should put in writing--to pay your legal fees and any judgments against you, but 1) that doesn't prevent legal action from being taken against you in the first place; and 2) that offer is only good if the company honors it (if they don't, you'd have to sue them to try to enforce it, which will cost you more money) and has the money to make good on it.


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