Clearance + Copyright

Your film or television production’s distribution depends in a big way on its “chain of title.” This legal concept encompasses all of the contracts and other documents that show changes in ownership of the legal rights in just about everything in your completed project. From story, characters, and titles, to clips, locations, and music, to each cast and crew member in your credit roll, the list of items needing clearance goes on and on.

Searching, securing, and documenting these rights is a vital step in allowing your project to be covered by errors and omissions insurance, a necessary part of obtaining streaming and theatrical distribution. DeepFocus works to identify, negotiate, and acquire necessary rights before your project wraps. The practice supports E+O insurance applications with legal opinion letters regarding our clearance analysis.

If the rights to others’ intellectual property cannot be acquired (for example, because their cost is prohibitive or their owners refuse to grant them), the practice is skilled at evaluating whether the fair use doctrine supports unlicensed use in your project under copyright law. Working together with producers and directors, we can often find ways to adapt the narrative or documentary story to strengthen the fair use defense to copyright infringement without compromising the filmmakers’ vision.

Copyright Law

Copyright search, registration, and enforcement
Chain of title analysis and legal opinion for film production insurance and investors
Copyright licensing agreements
Advice and guidance on “fair use” of third party material
Copyright enforcement
Defense of copyright infringement claims


Dane E. Johnson

503 975 8298