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Entrepreneurs David Straus, Joe Neulight and Fred Kramer founded film festival submission platform Withoutabox in 2000 and eventually sold the company to Amazon’s IMDb in 2008. After a few years at the online database, they have now set their sights on the broader rights management space with the launch of their new firm, Critical Mass Studios.
Their first order of business? Acquiring contract management platform RightsLine Software, which tracks more than 65,000 contracts for clients including major studios (NBCUniversal and MGM), television companies (FremantleMedia) and publishers (Samuel French). RightsLine CEO Rob Delf has become president of the newly combined company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We were always impressed by RightsLine’s technology,” says CMS CEO Straus. “Rob has an amazing reputation as a business entrepreneur and technologist in the entertainment space.”
RightsLine’s technology has become the foundation for the multiplatform rights management and monetization system that Straus and his partners are building at CMS. Straus notes that rights management has become more complex to track as more digital platforms emerge. He says the goal is to create a tool that studios and independent filmmakers can use to more effectively market and manage their content.
CMS and RightsLine are currently focusing on developing the technology for studio customers, but eventually will look to service independent filmmakers and other clients. The technology, which offers real-time availability calculations, is designed to fit into a studio’s legacy system, which could be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet.
Says Straus: “We want to be complementary to what’s currently working, but give them more power and more resources behind their rights and asset management technology.”
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