What is rights clearance?
Rights clearance refers to a legal agreement between anyone who wants to use, modify or publish creative content that was created by another entity. For example, if a creative agency wants to use a video clip they found on Youtube in a commercial for their client, they need an agreement between themselves and the person that shot the clip that gives them permission to use the clip. The rights to use the content need to be cleared, regardless of whether the clip was shot by a professional filmmaker or taken by an amateur with an Iphone. Rights clearance typically takes place via a legal contract, or licensing agreement, and typically includes a monetary transaction where the content creator is compensated for their work.
The Legal Backstory
Rights clearance relates directly to the legal protections for various types of intellectual property that are built into U.S. law. The Copyright Act of 1979 was created to provide creatives with legal protection and to help ensure financial compensation for creative work. The copyright act covers any work considered creative and original in nature, and defines the following categories as subject to copyright law:
- Film / video
- Artwork, illustration, graphic design
- Music and audio recordings
- Dance and choreography
- Written and literary work
- Architectural work
The copyright act states that anyone who creates original work, defined by the categories above, owns the copyright, or legal rights, to their own work. If a third party wants to use, modify or publish that work, they need a legal agreement that gives them permission.
Rights clearance refers to more than just copyright. A similar legal protection applies to trademarks and publicity rights. For example, if you have models, brands, or even famous landmarks in your photography or video, you also need to ensure you’ve secured the legal rights to feature those people, places and things.
What are Rights Clearance Services?
Contracts or licensing agreements for intellectual property can be long, complicated and full of legal jargon. Depending on your budget and legal risk threshold, it’s often wise to seek legal counsel before you enter into any rights clearance agreement. An experienced intellectual property attorney can save you money, remove legal risk, and make sure that you have the right agreement in place before you publish your work. Plus, rights clearance services often handle what are often time consuming transactions between parties including negotiations, billing and payment and file transfers.
Kurator’s legal team has over 20 years of experience in intellectual property law and licensing experience. We’ve worked with a variety of clients, from Fortune 500 companies to documentary filmmakers. Whether you need a custom licensing agreement to secure a single piece of footage or need an entire team working with you to research and secure photos, film and music for a major production, we’re ready. We handle every step of the process from research, to legal agreements, to final payments and file transfers, saving you time, expense, and headache.