Script Research Reports
The Research House is Western Canada’s leading provider of script clearance reports. With a dedicated staff of 10 consultants including two entertainment lawyers, The Research House is able to accommodate several projects simultaneously and handle several high priority requests with accuracy and remarkable turnaround.
The Research House will identify all elements in a script that may expose a production to legal disputes. These items include character names, business names, locations, product names, schools, organizations, defamatory references and racial slurs, use of protected material in the form of copyrights or trademarks.
Additionally, the report includes information on photographs, artwork, books, music, film clips, dialogue, props, identifiable personalities and much more.
We work with you.
If a conflict is discovered, The Research House will assist in finding an alternate name which is available for use. Contact information will be provided for copyright and trademark items so that you may apply for permission of use.
Title Clearance Reports
The Research House provides Title Reports for productions that will show the history of the use of the title selected for a production. A thorough search will be performed showing the extent of its use in all forms of media such as film, television, publishing, domain registration, and music. The Research House provides the information needed to alert producers and production counsel to areas of possible legal exposure.
Title Opinion Letter
Should you require a title opinion on your Title Clearance Report, we would be happy to refer you to an entertainment lawyer who can assist you with this service, or obtain an opinion letter on your behalf.
Product Placement Permissions
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:
1 – Locating the appropriate contact/ owner for obtaining the permission (this may be a legal firm or trademark owner);
2 – Communicating directly with the company/ brand owner and selling the production;
3 – providing script pages, show synopsis and intended use to the company;
4 – follow-up calls and correspondence with all parties for confirmation;
5 – forwarding the appropriate permission form paperwork and obtaining the company’s signature (and handling all paperwork and correspondence in between)
6 – sending the production’s shipping information to the company, if needed
7 – giving the production the full contact information for broadcast dates and still photo follow-up;
8 – ensuring that all parties have fully signed copies of the agreement.
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.
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.
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.
A trademark is a sign used in business to indicate that goods or services come from a particular trader or service provider. A trade mark can be a letter, name, signature, word, numeric device, brand, heading, label, aspect of packaging or shape, and even a scent or sound. It can consist of words alone or images alone or a combination of words and images. Rights to a trademark can last indefinitely if the owner continues to use the mark to identify its goods and services. If trademarks are not used properly, they may be lost and one of the company’s most important assets may lose all of its value. Rights may be lost not only because of a trademark owner’s improper use of the mark, but through improper use of the trademark by the public.
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.
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.
In the event that you did not obtain a Script Clearance Report prior to shooting, The Research House can review a screening copy of your film and provide a report identifying all clearance issues, music, products and brands and permission requirements.
Should you require assistance with music clearances, we would be happy to refer you to a music supervisor or specialist who can advise on public domain information, master and synchronization agreements and negotiating with record labels and publishers.
Film Recovery / Film Rediscovery
The Research House can assist with the research for lost Canadian films and with applications to the Canadian Copyright Office to obtain the rights to lost works. If you are interested in obtaining the Canadian distribution rights in a production, we can assist with the necessary research to present to the Copyright Office with your application.