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Can the employees from The Office use the documentary in legal situations?

I don't mean being allowed to film a situation like The Deposition.

In the episode Broke, Michael negotiates the buy-out of TMPC to Dunder Mifflin. They verbally agree to all the terms, but during the meeting nobody writes anything down, no notes are kept.

What's to stop Dunder Mifflin from changing the agreement?

David argued against the terms, because it would cost DM millions of dollars.

Even if Michael, Ryan, and Pam claimed the agreement was changed, why would anybody believe them? No evidence exists, Ryan isn't trusted by corporate, which leaves Micheal and Pam, whom DM could claim are two disgruntled employees attempting to take advantage of DM.

Presumably off screen, contracts were written, and Michael, Ryan, and Pam signed them, and they agreed terms were met. So we can safely assume that DM didn't try to back out.

Is there any canon or official source that can confirm if the footage of the agreement was used to support Michael, Ryan, and Pam, or if the footage can be used in legal situations?

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    I believe this is addressed in one episode (or more). I'll see if I can find it. – Joachim Dec 2 at 17:52
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    Why would DM back out of the agreement? They'd be exactly back where they started... In the very next episode we see Michael, Ryan and Pam working at DM again (and Charles was no longer Michael's manager), and that was their only terms, so obviously DM held up to 100% of the agreement that was made in the conference room. – Charles Dec 2 at 22:01
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    @SvetlanaofVodianova You're actually missing a crucial detail from the conversation that may make the premise of the question moot. By the time they agreed to hire everyone on, David Wallace knew that TMSPC was worthless. Michael spills the beans near the end of negotiations before they agree. Michael's ultimate trump card was that he had plenty of names for new paper companies to make when TMSPC goes under; and was willing to keep making new paper companies just to keep taking DM clients. – JMac Dec 3 at 17:17
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    Honestly I was trying to hold off on this but really, VTC since any answer that's accurately provided will be legally based and has nothing to do with the show itself. – Charles Dec 3 at 23:01
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    OP is asking about the legality of using documentary footage as evidence in a verbal agreement. Has nothing to do with The Office itself. – Charles Dec 3 at 23:07
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I guess I'll turn this into an answer, though I think Flater gave a pretty good answer to the actual question as posed.

I don't want to dig too much into the first question. I'm not sure if they could use the documentary in a legal situation; but I would definitely be reluctant to go back on a verbal contract when it was recorded on video; regardless who the rights belong to. It would take some very specific documentary contract wording to be sure that the video couldn't come back to bite you.

What's to stop Dunder Mifflin from changing the agreement?

David argued against the terms, because it would cost DM millions of dollars.

Dunder Mifflin wouldn't want to change the contract. It was DM's idea to buy out The Michael Scott Paper Company.

When David Wallace protested the million dollar buyout, he mentioned something along the lines of TMSPC not being worth that much. Michael then spilled the beans that his company was worth nothing. Michael then made it clear that even when TMSPC goes bankrupt, he will just create another paper company to take DM clients, and another after that; because he has "no shortage of names".

This is when David Wallace agrees to the buyout, only after discovering that TMSPC is worthless. Either side trying to change the agreement wouldn't be beneficial at this point. DM wants TMSPC off their back, and TMSPC employees just want stable jobs. By the time the deal is made, David Wallace has about as much information as the viewer, and still decides to go through with it. There's no real reason in the show for him to back out.

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What's to stop Dunder Mifflin from changing the agreement?

What's to stop Dunder Mifflin from changing the agreement even if either party takes notes? The note taking doesn't make a difference.

The only thing that matters is the contract that TMPC and DM sign - which doesn't happen on screen but there is no reason to believe that the contract was any different from the agreement.

Cinematographically, there's nothing interesting about showing both the meeting and a reading of the contract, if both contain the same information.

Is there any canon or official source that can confirm if the footage of the agreement was used to support Michael, Ryan, and Pam, or if the footage can be used in legal situations?

There is no confirmation on the agreement between DM and the documentary makers, so this cannot be answered in-universe.

If you want a real-world answer, this is better asked over at Law.SE, assuming that there is existing legislature that can override the specifics of the agreement between DM and the documentary makers.

  • The note taking doesn't make a difference. Actually it does make a difference, there is a record about what both sides agreed on. Remember in the deposition, they had someone taking notes? Both are legal situations, and if the documentary can't be used in a legal situation then DM can change the agreement. – user77775 Dec 3 at 16:16
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    @SvetlanaofVodianova: Neither party can be considered as an authenticated source of what was actually agreed. What happens if one party makes different notes than the other party? Depositions are on a completely different legal scale than business meetings and nowhere near comparable. In depositions, there is an impartial and sworn in stenographer whose career relies on the accuracy of their notes. – Flater Dec 3 at 16:35
  • Depositions are on a completely different legal scale than business meetings and nowhere near comparable. Agreed! But they could get an impartial 3rd party to record the notes, just like the deposition. – user77775 Dec 3 at 16:37
  • @SvetlanaofVodianova: "This could've also happened" doesn't contribute to the question about what actually happened. – Flater Dec 3 at 16:38

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