However creative your job is, a little legal knowledge can go a long way. Without it, you could lose any money you make.
No work is entirely original, and that is especially true if you make video or film. If you wish to depict the real world, you cannot film in a vacuum. You will need to use other people’s work to add context.
3 types of clearance to check for
Let’s say you are making a film about 90s teens. Here are some things to consider:
- What are they watching or listening to? If you show them laughing at old South Park episodes, you need copyright clearance for the footage. If they are rocking out to Nirvana, you need it for the music.
- What are they wearing or eating? Companies love free advertising, and many pay for product placement. Yet, they may not take it as a compliment if you show their product in a bad light. For instance, if all the troubled teens wear Adidas, and the good kids wear Nike, do not be surprised if Adidas files a lawsuit. Make sure you have trademark permission from both if their branding will take a significant role.
- Who else appears in your film? Your 90s kids have a thing for Pamela Anderson. So you create a dream sequence of her in the movie and use her image on the cover. Check you have the right of publicity to do so.
Using work without proper clearance could lead to lawsuits
Making money as an artist can be challenging enough. Facing intellectual property lawsuits because you did not get the correct clearances will make it even harder.