What is an Intellectual Property (IP) clearance? Do you need it? When marketing campaigns use any artwork, regardless of its format (music, video, photos, graffiti, murals, etc.), I usually ask the clients, where did it come from? Is it original or borrowed? Most importantly, does the client have the legal right to use such artwork in the marketing campaign?

There are two pending lawsuits that address IP clearance issues. The first one is where the marketer used photos of buildings, some of which included the murals on the buildings. The questions raised are: if the mural is on of the building, is it part of the building? Is the mural copyright protected as separate from the building? Is there a copyright infringement case IF the marketer does not get clearance to use the photos of the murals on the building? Are murals considered pictorial, graphical or sculptural (PGS) work?

The second pending case is about a marketer using music. This particular marketer uses music as part of the fitness classes offered. The allegations are that although the marketer did license with some of the music publishing companies, apparently the marketer might not have licensed with others. Hence, the questions raised are: what is the proper licensing structure for the marketer? With whom should the marketer negotiate licensing rights? Who actually owns the legal rights to the music being licensed?

All good questions to which I will post answers in the future once these cases are resolved. Stay tuned!

In the mean time, best practice for businesses is to consider the need for IP clearances, preferably BEFORE launching your advertising campaigns in English and Spanish. Any questions? Feel free to contact me via DM, call me 954-736-9787, or audrey@gloverdichter.com.
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