The Research House Clearance Services Inc.
Script Clearance Experts for Film & Television
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Product Placement Permission

THE 3 P’S

It is becoming increasingly common for characters in film and television productions to eat, drink, drive, purchase and wear branded products. Filmmakers wanting to use branded or recognizable products in their films should consider the relevant legal issues that exist when placing products in films. Because companies are passionate about protecting the reputation of their brands, they are often very careful about how their trademarks, logos, web pages, screenshots or other distinctive features are used. It is generally never okay to use branded products in your production without first obtaining the owner’s permission, or for brand features to be altered, edited or misrepresented. The owner also has the right to restrict the production to use the brand solely for the specific purposes for which they have given permission.

There are three basic types of product placements in film:

  • visual,
  • spoken and
  • usage.

A visual product placement occurs when a product, service, or logo can simply be observed. A spoken product placement occurs when an actor or off-screen voice mentions a product, service, or corporation. A product placement usage occurs when an actor or actress actually handles or interacts with a product, service, or corporation. A placement that involves usage often includes both a visual and spoken element as well.

Another issue to consider when placing branded products in films is whether the label bears an artistic work and whether the reproduction and communication to the public of that artistic work in a film could be a copyright infringement.

Copyright owners of artistic works control the right to:

  • reproduce (by photographing, photocopying, filming);
  • publish (by making copies available for sale) and;
  • communicate the work to the public (via television, radio or the internet.)

To use a ‘substantial’ part of an artistic work in one of these ways, without the permission of the owner, is a copyright infringement.

If you would like to use any branded items in film or television, or reproduce them anywhere else, you may need to first receive permission from the owner. Productions should seek permission in the form of a written agreement from the brand owner and the owner may require a fee for such use.

Why take the legal risks involved in using a branded product without first gaining permission? Let us take care of the paperwork for you so that you can focus on making your movie.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT PERMISSION

The Research House is now offering a new service for Permissions.

Need help obtaining permission to use featured products, artwork, props or film clips? Let our permissions specialist take care of the sometimes-lengthy process of tracking down the proper rights holder and getting the appropriate paperwork signed. Not only will she save you time and money by tapping into her extensive database of global contacts, but she will assist your production in obtaining all of the prop and product items that you desire. The services of a permission specialist can save your production thousands of dollars.

Permissions services involve working closely with the production on the following:

  • Locating the appropriate contact/ owner for obtaining the permission (this may be a legal firm or trademark owner);
  • Communicating directly with the company/ brand owner and selling the production;
  • providing script pages, show synopsis and intended use to the company;
  • follow-up calls and correspondence with all parties for confirmation;
  • forwarding the appropriate permission form paperwork and obtaining the company’s signature (and handling all paperwork and correspondence in between)
  • sending the production’s shipping information to the company, if needed
  • giving the production the full contact information for broadcast dates and still photo follow-up;
  • ensuring that all parties have fully signed copies of the agreement.