Clearing rights is an activity conducted by authors, visual artists, musicians, website owners, and film and television producers. Rights clearance issues have even led to embarrassing situations for some well-known politicians.
When you clear rights, you verify that there’s no material in your production that is going to get you sued or prevent distribution of your production. There are other terms used to describe the process of clearing rights. Those terms include vetting the production, getting permission, and licensing.
Even though the process can sometimes be frustrating and time-consuming, there are at least five good reasons why you should clear rights properly. Clearing rights properly involves considering copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, defamation, and other laws. There are many questions you might ask yourself as you clear rights in your production. Here are a few of them (with links to some blog postings on subjects related to those questions) :
- Can your production mention or feature brand-named products?
- Can you mention real people or real events?
- Do you need to clear the title of your production?
- Do you need a personal release for those appearing in your production?
- When you obtain permission, do you need a formal written agreement or can you use a more informal method?
- When and how can you quote from text?
For more detailed information on rights clearance, I recommend my book, The Permission Seeker’s Guide Through the Legal Jungle: Clearing Copyrights, Trademarks and Other Rights for Entertainment and Media Productions.