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Summary: Given the circumstances I'll outline below, would it be legal to finish an animated film started for a class. And, assuming it's legal, is it in good taste?

Explanation:

In 2008 I took an intro to Animation class at a local community college.  One of the assignments was to write a 1-2 minute animated short. These shorts would be pitched to the class and then voted on. The winning short would be animated by the class. The short that I wrote was the winner, and since I wrote it I was asked to direct it as well. For the rest of the class, students, and myself,  were working toward completing the short.  However, the short was never completed (as people dropped the class or just didn't do their assignments) and basically all work on it stopped at the end of the class.

Fast forward to now, and the only bits that I have are my original pitch, and the storyboards (some drawn by me, many by other students), and my original character designs.  I would like to revisit the short and complete it, making new original storyboards for it, and updating my own character designs.

Do I have the legal right to do this? Also, assuming I have the legal right, would it be in poor taste at all to do this? 

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
dilario
Jul. 4th, 2015 08:53 pm (UTC)
assuming you're not making any kind of profit directly off of this short and anyone else who contributed work to it did not expect any kind of payment and didn't sign any kind of disclosure contract, then I'd think you're legally free to go ahead.

Good taste is another question, but since the pitch was yours I don't think it's particularly poor taste, either.
kayfox
Jul. 4th, 2015 09:15 pm (UTC)
If you wrote it and you didn't sign anything assigning copyright to the college or someone else, you can develop it into anything you want. Just avoid using anything other people did for it and you should be fine.

Remember, George Lucas' THX 1138 was originally a college project.
chronidu
Jul. 4th, 2015 10:32 pm (UTC)
Legal right? Yes if you're not profiting from it.

But if you want to use it in say a demo reel or claim it as your own work, I would start animating it from scratch.

Basically if you want any claim to it, don't use any work anyone else did and you will be all in the clear.
tisiphone
Jul. 5th, 2015 06:25 am (UTC)
It's not illegal, as long as you're only including your own work, and it's not particularly in poor taste either. If you're going to redesign the storyboards, just make sure they're different from the originals. It doesn't even have to be particularly new ideas, remember that copyright only applies to specific expressions of ideas. (Tracing Mickey Mouse is bad, animating a mouse is fine.)
ankewehner
Jul. 5th, 2015 06:31 am (UTC)
the only bits that I have are my original pitch, and the storyboards (some drawn by me, many by other students), and my original character designs. I would like to revisit the short and complete it, making new original storyboards for it, and updating my own character designs.

I'd think that if you did your own original storyboards, as opposed to redrawing other people's storyboards just for style consistency or something, you'd be completely in the clear because it's all your work then.
ladysnakebite
Jul. 5th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
If you're redoing the boards for it, there shouldn't be a problem. The concept was yours, the script was yours, and now the storyboards and animation will be yours. Just because you initially made it for a class doesn't matter -- it was never completed and furthermore nothing was ever signed to the college regarding rights to the film/concept if it should remain uncompleted.
annoyedandroid
Jul. 6th, 2015 03:49 am (UTC)
Thanks for the advice everyone!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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