Whether it's a television pilot or a blockbuster movie, many people within the entertainment industry would rather their projects remain in anonymity until the completed project is released to the public. Though reasons for secrecy can vary, discretion is incredibly important to many people in the industry which is why confidentiality clauses in contracts are considered crucial.
As you may or may not know, a confidentiality agreement in the entertainment industry is a legally binding contract signed by a party that promises not to disclose confidential information pertaining to a particular script, project or aspects of the project that could be considered a secret. These clauses, which can be part of a larger contractual agreement, can be applied to everyone from actors to crew members and typically seek monetary compensation from a signer if they breach the contract.
Under California's civil code, all contracts, including confidentiality agreements, must be written in a language that is clearly understood by all signing parties. It should be written in an exact manner that ensures that the intent of the contract is clear, leaving little room for interpretation.
As you can imagine, secrets about a project that are leaked to the public too early can sometimes be detrimental to the project in the long run, leading to lost hype about the project and potentially lost revenue as well.
It's worth pointing out, however, that the people who sign confidentiality agreements are not the only ones capable of leaking industry secrets. This is important to remember, especially for the person or entity that the agreement is supposed to protect.
Although it may be difficult to prove who exactly breached a confidentiality agreement without compelling evidence, it's not impossible. In cases where evidence shows that a signee violated the terms of the agreement, the courts may hold them liable for damages sought by the plaintiff.
Sources: Wisegeek.com, "What is a Confidentiality Clause?" Accessed Oct. 22, 2014
leginfo.ca.gov, "The California Civil Code, Section 1635-1663," Accessed Oct. 22, 2014