Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some of our most common inquiries.

What does Greenlight do?

Greenlight is an independent rights clearance and licensing agency, providing turnkey start-to-finish project management for advertising agencies and Fortune 500 companies worldwide. For our clients, we manage the heavy lifting associated with rights and music clearance negotiations, procuring celebrity talent and royalty-based merchandise licensing, freeing our clients up to concentrate on their creative concepts.

What does it mean to "clear rights"?

Intellectual properties (IP) such as popular songs, landmarks, artwork and trademarks are protected by law, as are Personality rights (the rights of a celebrities, living or deceased, to control use of their name and likeness). All such rights typically require a license in order to utilize them in any commercial manner. When you clear rights, you verify that there's no material in your production that (if uncleared) might get you sued or hinder the use or distribution of your production. There are other terms used to describe the process of clearing rights. Those terms include vetting the production, getting permission, and licensing. Clearing rights properly involves consideration of copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, defamation, and other laws. These are the types of matters Greenlight is able to assist you with.

Why do I need to worry about getting clearances?

You need clearances in order to protect you and/or your client from legal claims that could have significant financial and/or legal ramifications, as well as to prevent you from being able to utilize your campaign or production as you had hoped. It is advisable to always obtain the full consent and applicable licensing to use protected rights in any commercial manner. If you use any protected rights without proper authorization, you may find yourself entangled in a legal minefield that could result in a legal judgement and fees that would far exceed the amount you would have had to pay if you secured the rights correctly in the first place.

How does Greenlight work?

Greenlight uses its experience and wide network of entertainment contacts to first evaluate your project, ascertain the rights you will need cleared, advise on the process and any potential issues and estimate fees and timing. While our initial consultation is provided free of charge, once we have been hired, we work diligently to obtain the legal rights your project needs within your budget and issue a license that protects you and your client.

Why choose Greenlight?

Greenlight is a premier rights and music clearances service provider. Choosing Greenlight means that you can rest assured that your rights clearance needs will be handled with the utmost care and detail. Greenlight is proud to be the only service provider of its kind that includes an indemnity in all of the licenses it issues for its clients. With over 20 years in business and thousands of clearances negotiated in that time, we can confidently say that rights and music clearances are in our DNA.

What types of rights can Greenlight clear?

Greenlight can and does clear all types of rights involving the commercial use of intellectual properties, such as; celebrity talent casting, supervising the selection and licensing of songs, researching and clearing unique visual content, and much more. Contact us to find out if we can help you.

What types of rights does Greenlight NOT clear?

Public performance rights for films or music, Dramatic performance rights, Mechanical rights to cover songs or use samples and music use rights for personal uses, such as fundraiser videos, weddings videos, school projects and YouTube videos.

How much does it cost to clear rights?

Fees for commercial licensing can range broadly depending on the property being licensed and the size and scope of the campaign. So anywhere from a few thousands of dollars to several million dollars. Let Greenlight help you evaluate the licensing costs of your campaign or project.

How long does it take to clear rights?

This will depend upon the size or complexity of your project, but in most cases, rights can be cleared within one to two weeks.

How much will it cost for a feasibility / ballpark rights check

We offer free initial consultation. Depending on the full scope and complexity of your clearance project, we sometimes assess a nominal fee to conduct the necessary research and negotiations on your behalf.

I want to create an advertisement using the name and likeness of one of your icons. Does this require a license?

Yes. Any commercial use of the name, likeness, or other aspects of persona of our represented icons requires a license. Please contact us for more information.

Can I use the name and/or image of any of your icons on merchandise?

Use of our icons on merchandise or retail products requires that you negotiate and obtain a license from Greenlight. This type of license typically includes a minimum guarantee and payment of future royalties.

Are deceased people considered to be in the public domain?

No. That is a common misconception. Public domain (PD) refers to the absence of copyright of a work such as a book, song, or film. "Rights of Publicity" is the correct term to describe the rights of individuals (alive or deceased) to control the commercial exploitation of their name and likeness. Many states in the US and countries around the world have laws that protect the post-mortem rights of celebrities.

What type of rights do I need to clear music?

If you are creating any production where music will be "synched" (synchronized) with visuals (such as a commercial, film, corporate video, video game, etc.), then you must obtain a synch license. If you are simply recording a song as an audio recording, this will require a mechanical license. If you wish to play live or recorded music in a venue, this will require a public performance license from a society (e.g. ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, the 3 public performance rights organizations in the United States). If you want permission to use a song in a musical or play, these are "dramatic performing rights" and permission must be obtained directly from the music publisher, and if applicable, the record company.

How do I license music for commercial use?

In order to clear a song for commercial use, you will first need to clear the publishing rights, which covers the rights of the composer of the song. In many cases a song has been composed by multiple writers represented by multiple publishing companies. Secondarily, if you plan to use an existing recording of a song, you will need to clear the rights of the recording artist(s), typically controlled by a record label. Additionally, there may be certain other rights to clear due to guild obligations of the performer(s).

What music is in the public domain?

Music in the public domain usually includes most pre-20th century classical music, plus some traditional folk songs and spirituals. Many 20th century songs are also entering the public domain as their copyrights expire. But music rights are complex; e.g. a song (composition) may be considered PD in the United States, yet still be under copyright in another country. It is also important to remember that even while a composition may be in the public domain, a specific arrangement or recording of that same song may not be PD.