Entertainment Law Post - Film & Video Releases 101

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Releases assist film production organizations related partners to avoid liability from unauthorized appropriation and appearances of third parties, venues, and protected works. It if for this reason that it is very common to find faces blurred out on shows such as Cops where the general public is filmed and displayed in the programming. It is good practice to blur out faces of people that are not cleared through releases because you never know how far programming will be distributed.

Releases are not just appropriate for the actual talent that are contracted to perform during the video production. In fact, it is the persons that are third parties and not directly contracted with the production company or the production company’s client that are the higher risk of liability. This includes people that are just standing around in the film production area, the venues used during the production of the film project (especially those with identifying marks that appear in the film project), and even other protected works that appear the firm project (for example a piece of private art or clip of another film).

This risk is small for liability but the results can be devastating. It is much better to be safe than sorry later by getting a release.  It is also important to recognize that distributors, TV shows, film festivals and other contest, will likely require releases to do business with your organization.

Exceptions for needing a release includes when person or venue in a film project cannot be identified. There is also exceptions for shooting a crowd of people in a public place unless the crowd is being shot for commercial services. For example, if the production appears to show that the crowd is supporting a particular product.

The need for a release is not dependent upon whether the video is commercial or given away for free. If the video is given away for free, you may still need releases from the people who appear in the video.

Below are types of common releases:

Talent: Anyone featured in a video must sign this release. Here, the person signing the release grants the artist or label all rights to use them in the video.

Minor Release: The minor release must be signed by a parent or legal guardian of a minor (the legal age varies from state to state).

Crowds and Audiences: If you are performing in a public place, anyone recognizable should receive a release. If shooting an audience, you can display a large sign notifying anyone who enters that they have consented to appearance. However, if the video features a person from the audience, that person should sign a personal release.

Location: This is for venues that agree to let you shoot. It is useful with noticeable signs at the venue. The release can write in fees.

Public Places: Public venues do not need releases if they’re not prominent but if they are, the manager should sign the release.

Materials Release: The materials release is used for obtaining permission to use photographs, video, film or other media which may be copyrighted or owned by others.

If you are interested in having your project services for releases by our law firm. Please use the link below to fill out our release in-take form.

About Seward Tran LLP

Seward Tran LLP is an African American owned Entertainment Law Firm located in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Our Entertainment Law Firm assists film industry creatives and companies to conduct business in North Carolina and surroundings areas with the confidence and protections. Our Entertainment Law Firm is dedicated to offering world class services at a personal level to all over our film industry clients.

Sherrod Seward