Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buying an image v. paying for clearance

If you are ever trying to get pricing for stock images or video footage, make sure to leave a whole lot of money in your budget for clearance costs. 

An image itself isn’t that expensive, and neither are video clips.  You could find images for a few hundred dollars, and videos for a couple thousand.  Obviously, there is a range-don’t get me wrong-but you can purchase images and videos without breaking the bank.

Now if you want to use those images, you need to have the clearance of the person in the image.  If it’s a model or actor and the image is from a photo or video shoot-you’re usually fine. This is because the model/actor in the shoot has released their likeness to the company that is shooting, or owns the picture/video. Then, the person or company that owns the image, usually has the rights to sell the likeness of the person in the picture.

If you are trying to use the likeness or image of a person that has any amount of notoriety (namely a celebrity or famous historical person), you still need to get clearance from either them, or their estate if they are dead.  Not even presidents are open to the public-much to my surprise!

The costs to get clearance to use somebody’s likeness are surprisingly large!  I heard that Einstein’s estate won’t sign anything unless it’s at least $50,000.  No wonder they call him Einstein-that’s brilliant!

Regardless, most famous people including historical figures can cost anywhere from $3,500 on the low end, to $50,000+ on the high end.  These were numbers I was not aware of-and nearly lost it when I finally got the estimates.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule:  if it’s satire or parody.  This is why Sarah Palin didn’t sue Tina Fey for the use of her likeness on Saturday Night Live. 

So unless you are mocking somebody famous-expect to pay.  That in itself is a little ironic, don’t you think?

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