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Attorney & Partner
Donaldson & Callif
Dubbed “‘legal Obi Wan Kenobi’ and fair use guru of the documentary film set” by the American Bar Association Journal, Michael C. Donaldson is an entertainment attorney who has been fighting for independent filmmakers for over thirty years. While President of the International Documentary Association, Michael negotiated with the cable networks to prevent the wholesale migration of credits from the screen to the internet by organizing and leading the Documentary Credit Coalition. He has also served on the Advisory Committee for the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use. Michael successfully negotiated with insurance companies to offer fair use riders on the E&O insurance policies, which has allowed many films to be made under the fair use doctrine. He helped draft the Rome Resolution to harmonize Fair Use across the European Union. And, Michael filed with the Copyright Office, argued, and won an exemption to the DMCA, allowing Documentary Filmmakers to rip DVDs in order to gain access to public domain material and assets to be used in their documentary pursuant to fair use. Michael also frequently files Amicus briefs on a pro bono basis in various courts in support of filmmakers faced with issues concerning the community.
Michael currently serves as General Counsel to Film Independent and the Writers Guild Foundation. Michael is Treasurer of the US Copyright Society. In addition, Michael is the co-author of Clearance & Copyright: Everything You Need to Know for Film and Television(used in 50 film schools and the winner of three national book awards), and other books and many articles. He co-authored, with his law partner Lisa Callif, The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking.
Speaking on: Living on the Edge