Maybe entertainment attorneys will go out on strike next. Because Hollywood is starting to outsource legal research, legal analysis, legal opinion and contract drafting services. Production houses like 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and HBO have hired an India-headquartered company, SDD Global Solutions, to handle the legal biz of their movie and TV releases, according to The Times Of India in a recent article. The newspaper says the Mysore-based legal process outsourcing firm has 40 attorneys and is owned by Smith Dornan Dehn, a Manhattan-based international media and intellectual property firm funded by Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Barclay’s Capital.
Russell Smith, president of SDD Global, told the paper his firm is busy preparing arguments and counter-arguments to support some of the most complex legal issues in Hollywood. “We just signed to work on three global movie releases. We can’t reveal the names now. We will handle pre-and post-production legal issues,” said Smith, who is a U.S.-licensed attorney and litigator. These tasks include drafting copyright clauses, contracts, legal opinions and preparing documents for insurance cover, conducting research on potential legal issues, framing legal guidelines for filming, and visa processing for Hollywood actors, directors, producers.
SDD Global was recently chosen as a legal navigator for Virulents, a movie venture between New Regency Productions and Virgin Comics (founded by Richard Branson, Shekhar Kapur and Deepak Chopra), to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, the paper reported. SDD Global is preparing legal documents to rebut controversial defamation action against HBO’s Da Ali G Show. And Sony Pictures is said to have tied up with SDD Global for a politically-tinged comedy involving leading Hollywood actors expected to be out in the first half of 2008. “The film involves dozens of complicated legal issues and our attorneys have logged 400 hours dealing with those. The movie got its final go-ahead only after we charted ways the film could be made with a minimum of lawsuits,” said Smith.
According to The Times Of India, “Typically, hundreds of lawsuits and damage claims are filed against successful movies, popular reality shows and prominent animation series, and therefore insurance cover is given only for movies/shows that have sound legal contractual support. Getting all those legal requirements done in the U.S. can be terribly expensive, considering lawyers have to be paid between $450 and $650 an hour. In India, on the other hand, the same kind of work would be paid at the rate of $60-$100 per hour.”