Michael Donaldson

Michael Donaldson is an entertainment attorney who has been fighting for independent filmmakers for over thirty-five years. He recently testified before Congress on copyright reform relating to Orphan Works. Dubbed the “‘legal Obi Wan Kenobi’ and fair use guru of the documentary film set” by the American Bar Association, Michael has gained a national reputation as an expert on clearance- and rights- related issues. He 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 served on the Advisory Committee for the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use and currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Stanford Fair Use Project. Michael is the past President of the International Documentary Association (IDA) and current General Counsel to Film Independent and Writers Guild of America/West Foundation. He co-wrote The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking with his partner Lisa Callif. He also wrote Clearance & Copyright (soon to be fourth edition and is used as a textbook in over 50 colleges and universities).


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