What Is Rights Clearance

Rights clearance is the process of licensing intellectual property for use in your production.
For instance, you might want to show artwork, photographs, movie clips, or a product logo in your film.
While the script clearance report notifies you that use of some items could result in legal action, you should consult the production’s attorney for an opinion as to the risks involved. If the risk is not acceptable, three options are available.


Remove the item, and replace it with pre-cleared artwork, or use stock images or royalty-free photographs to create artwork.


Created original artwork and/or a fictional name to replace the item. This option is part of the script clearance process.


Seek permission from the rights holder. This option leads us to rights clearance.


Intellectual property refers to a person’s exclusive rights to a distinct type of creative design, meaning that no one else can copy or reuse that creation without the owner’s permission. Common types of intellectual property are photographs, film and television clips, books, logos, and package designs like a perfume bottle. Artwork includes paintings, sculptures, tattoos, murals, band and movie posters, album covers, and book cover art. Other examples of intellectual property needing rights clearance are music, lyrics, book quotes, social media websites and interactive video games. This is the shortlist.


Using or recreating someone’s intellectual property without permission can result in a copyright infringement lawsuit. See our Film Lawsuit Page.


Clearance professionals research and identify the rights holder, submit outreach correspondence, negotiate the terms of use, and any licensing fees, negotiating and drafting of all footage, talent, music and brand agreements where required. And issues progress reports to the production.

Each type of item requires a specific set of permissions and releases.

For instance, use of a band poster may require permission from the record company, band management, the photographer, and image releases from each band member on the poster. The clearance process can take up to two weeks or longer. Music clearances can sometimes take weeks.

We recommend that your production team determine clearance items early in pre-production to allow time to obtain necessary permissions and releases in time for shooting. If you are interested in more about this. Follow me on Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/carol-compton/

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