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The DocProject is a program of the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School. Under the guidance of experienced media lawyers, Yale law students provide filmmakers with pro bono legal research and advice from the earliest stages of their projects through rough cuts. The project’s mission is twofold: to assist documentary filmmakers who would not otherwise have access to legal resources, and to train the next generation of media lawyers.

DocProject lawyers and law students work with independent filmmakers from different backgrounds and with varying degrees of experience in developing strategies to reduce potential liability from newsgathering activities – including source protection, trespass, intrusion and other privacy concerns. The Clinic also assists in advancing filmmakers’ efforts to obtain access, in addition to advising on libel, privacy, intellectual property and other content concerns. We do not provide clearance letters nor do we advise on intellectual property/fair use, licensing, forming LLCs, crew agreements, distribution contracts, or insurance.

Pay or Die (2023) by Scott Alexander Ruderman and Rachael Dyer (photo: Scott Alexander Ruderman)
Pay or Die (2023) by Scott Alexander Ruderman and Rachael Dyer (photo: Scott Alexander Ruderman)

The DocProject was launched in 2018 to address an unmet need. While society today increasingly obtains its news and information through visual images, video journalism, and independent filmmakers, these journalists have limited access to legal assistance. In its launch, the DocProject worked closely with Doc Society, Inc. to identify candidates for the project, in order to see if providing legal services in this manner was a viable model. It has proven to be highly successful, and we are hoping to sustain and expand the project.

The DocProject has provided legal assistance for dozens of films. Award-winning films that we've worked on include:

Missing in Brooks County (2020)
Two families search for their loved ones who went missing in the fields of Brooks County, Texas after crossing from Mexico and find a sobering truth: the deadliest part of the journey is far from the border.

Winner, Peabody Award; Best Southern Feature, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

Pay or Die (2023)
Pay or Die explores the crushing financial reality for millions of insulin-dependent Americans living with diabetes, as pharmaceutical companies push the price of this life-saving medication.

Premiered at SXSW 2023; Awarded Best Feature Documentary at Rhode Island International Film Festival

Razing Liberty Square (2023) by Katja Esson (Image: Hector David Rosales)
Razing Liberty Square (2023) by Katja Esson (Image: Hector David Rosales)

Razing Liberty Square (2023)
Miami is ground-zero for sea-level-rise. When residents of the Liberty Square public-housing community learn about a $300 million revitalization project in 2015, they know that their neighborhood is located on the highest-and-driest ground in the city. Now they must prepare to fight a new form of racial injustice - Climate Gentrification.

Winner, Woodstock Film Festival Changemaker Award; Screened at Yale in January 2024.

Unseen (2023)
An aspiring social worker, Pedro faces restrictions as a blind, undocumented immigrant to get his college degree. Using experimental cinematography, unseen reimagines film accessibility through an audio-centric experience.

Truer Than Fiction Award nominee, Film Independent Spirit Awards

Fracking the System (2024)
Fracking the System is a political thriller documentary from the front lines of climate justice activism in Colorado.

To learn more about our work, or to request legal assistance, please email the DocProject co-director, Jennifer Borg, at