A Guide To Copyright, Royalties and Content Ownership
Producing a programme that will be sold as a dvd/blueray/download or watched on TV presents a set of unique challenges that can often be applied to corporate shooting. In the past we have produced Sports/fitness, Live music dvd content, and comedy content for clients such as Universal pictures and ITV2 and to say that these productions have to be “watertight” is very much an understatement.
TV and DVD
Because these productions are sold as part of a dvd package or broadcast (along with adverts) for commercial gain absolutely everything seen and heard within the programme can legally be considered part of a revenue generating vehicle. What this means in real terms is that anyone and anything featured in the final footage has sign legally binding release forms giving the film maker absolute commercial rights to the footage and audio captured.
This also applies to footage of buildings and land used as either cutaway material or in the background of the picture. We therefore need to sign off every location we shoot to release the image rights.
In addition every note of music has to be cleared not only by the record companies who own the (physical) recording, but also by the publishers (and ultimately writers) who own the words/music. Weirdly enough sometimes the band or artist sometimes don’t even come into this!
What I’m aiming to illustrate here is that if you intend to use your film for commercial gain, you need to think carefully about what you want to include and allow enough pre-production budget to obtain the required release agreements.
This applies just as much when producing content for corporate film or promotional video use and is not just applicable to TV. If you’re allowing your company film to be seen online then you are effectively “exhibiting it” and hence you must own exhibition rights to everything featured in it.
• If you want you film to feature some great interview comments from your customers ensure you get legally binding releases signed by them at the time of shooting.
• If you want to include some footage of your product/service in action make sure you gain permission and release for the location in which it is to be depicted.
• If you’re filming general “wide” shots of your business with customers on site you’ll need to display clear signage informing them that “filming is taking place today”. You also need to ensure that these shots are general wide shots and could not be descried as “featuring” a specific person (ie – no close ups). Any close up (or “featuring”) footage of the public requires their permission and a legal documet signing.
And if you’re planning to use Take That’s latest hit as the soundtrack for your corporate film you better get permission in advance and be prepared to write a 5 figure cheque.
Get it right – before you shoot
However, don’t be put off by all this as it’s not as daunting as it sounds and the public are reasonably familiar with the concept of a “image release form” thanks to the amount of filming that takes place throughout the country.
The upshot of neglecting these aspects is that someone could legally request that you remove your film from the web and not exhibit it anywhere else. This is hardly the sort of thing you need after committing time and money to producing your new corporate video.
At the end of the day, if you’re watertight on this sort of thing you can distribute your film to effectively and freely and without worry.