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| 2 minutes read

4-1-1 on Appearance Releases

As part of the clearance process for the exploitation of a production, production teams need to secure the right to use the appearance of all individuals featured and/or participating in the production. 

Many of the key elements that need to be included in any appearance release overlap with the key elements in location agreements and materials releases, including (i) explicit language that recordings are owned by the production company (or distributor, if required by the distributor), (ii) clearly defined rights to use the recordings both in the production and in advertising and promotion of the production, (iii) language permitting assignment and transfer of rights under the agreement, and (iv) a waiver of injunctive relief, limiting the grantor’s relief to seeking monetary damages and prohibiting their enjoining the distribution of the production. In addition, unless it is specifically negotiated for otherwise, it should clearly state that there is no obligation to use the footage and any use of the footage is in the production company’s sole discretion. 

There are a few other essential elements of appearance releases that are unique. Specifically, appearance releases need to expressly include:

  • Good and valuable consideration for use of the appearance—whether a fee for such appearance (if paid) or the opportunity for publicity associated with appearing in the production (if unpaid).
  • Details about the use and scope, including how, where and for how long, and in what media and what territory(ies) the appearance can be used. The scope can be broad (any production) or limited (solely in a particular production or one episode), depending on the needs of the production team and the negotiating power of the individual. 
  • An indemnification and release of claims from the individual is essential to an appearance release, however, depending on the bargaining power of the individual, production may only be able to secure a limited release. 
  • If the production is union or non-union. 
    • If non-union, the individual must (i) acknowledge that they are aware that the production is not subject to any collective bargaining agreement and any services provided from the individual are on a non-union basis, and (ii) indemnify the production company for any claims or monies that the production company is required to pay if such member is subject to a CBA. 
    • If union, the release will need to be on a union-specific form.
  • A certification that the participant is at least 18 years of age or older and that he or she understands the release and is signing it voluntarily. If the participant is a minor, the parents or guardians need to sign the release on behalf of the individual, and all parents or guardians should sign the release to avoid custody issues.
  • A representation that the individual is aware that they cannot give anyone associated in any manner with the production or receive any compensation or anything of value for the appearance, or promote any service, product or venture on the air without first disclosing it to and getting approval from the production company, to comply with federal laws. 

It is important for the production team to keep track of any restrictions or limitations on the use of the appearance in a log, often referred to as a restrictions log, to keep everything organized for the production and the distributor.


entertainment music & sports, motion picture television & digital content, sports & esports, appearance releases, production