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The Top 7 Topics Every Appearance Release Should Cover

Pretend you’re at the grocery store going about your business when suddenly a famous YouTuber appears 😶. The YouTuber is filming a video for their channel, and they love your look as you shuffle by in your sweats and select a giant box of Lucky Charms. The YouTuber then whips out an appearance release and asks you if you’re willing to appear in a video!

If you’re a YouTuber or other content creator, you may have heard of an appearance release before. This crucial bit of paperwork ensures that the content creator has permission to use a person’s footage 📹 in their content. If you’re a content creator, to avoid unwanted lawsuits 🤓 or other legal issues, you need to put together an effective appearance release that outlines your agreement clearly and professionally. Here’s how you can do it!

7 Topics an Appearance Release Document Should Include

A good appearance release document needs to cover all the bases! Individual appearance releases ensure everyone is on the same page so there are no issues later. Make sure yours includes the following 7 key areas.  

1. Cover the Scope of the Release

Your releases during production need to elaborate on issues like:

  • In what location will you use the appearance release 🤔?
  • Are you going to use the appearance release in connection to a show or picture?
  • What type of subject matter with the footage cover?
  • Is there a time limit ⏲️ to the appearance?

These important questions help you address every aspect of the appearance release.  

2. Don’t Forget Compensation

To validate your release of claims, you may have to include a clause relating to compensation 🤑. The content of appearance releases for planned shoots typically includes this, even if there is no payment. 

If there’s no compensation 💰 in the entire agreement, then the release needs to outline this. In this case, the preferred jurisdiction can offer publicity for appearing in the production instead of payment.

You won’t need to include overtime terms in your customary provisions since they don’t apply to professional actors (which your participants technically are). However, they must have a minimum wage for all the hours they work.

3. Verify Age

A professional release needs to state that anyone participating in production:

  • Meets the minimum age requirement (18 years) to agree to something
  • Fully understands the appearance release
  • Signs the release document 📁

If your production includes kids, then their parents 👪 need to sign the release form on their behalf. If the release states that the minor must receive the compensation payment, make sure you consider that!

4. Ask Participants to Relinquish Ownership of Footage

The typical release outlines a work for hire (WFHB) basis for any sort of production work created, contributed, or provided to the producer should. Basically, by including the WFHB information, your release of claims releases the participant’s potential ownership over your footage.

The United States Copyright Act 📃 suggests this so the production team can avoid having to squabble with the participant about who the footage really belongs to. Forgetting this exclusive jurisdiction section 🤗 can lead to a lot of court disputes over intellectual property rights and ownership, so make sure to clearly include it! 

5. Clarify You May Not Use the Footage

Your production company needs to mention that it’s under no obligation to use footage or production that their participants appear in. The production company’s use of the footage should solely happen at their discretion 🙄. That way, if you decide to take on a different project instead, there will be no liabilities in connection to that. 

6. Bar Collective Bargaining

The production staff needs to hold the production company accountable for any claims or compensation 💸. It’s important to include this in an appearance release to protect the participants. However, anyone you hire to appear in the production needs to agree that they won’t engage in any form of the collective bargaining agreement.

Why? Such an agreement would give them a huge amount of control over everything from the type of production and the production technique used to pay and benefits. That could spell trouble for the creative director, especially for a one-off shoot with contract workers. 

7. Be Prepared for Disputes

It’s a great idea to include a provision for alternative dispute resolution in your appearance release. This means that if there’s a disagreement 😠 between parties, they need to resolve it through mediation or binding arbitration instead of in court.

This is a popular clause in many license agreements. Arbitration is a lot less expensive and time-consuming than seeking legal advice and going to court.  However, the production company still needs to win the arbitration.

Do You Need Help with Your Appearance Release?

Every appearance release document needs to include some key components. So, what can you do to make your release as legally sound as possible? Get help from an experienced attorney from our team 🏆!

Our team of social media attorneys 👥 has helped clients with many appearance releases. You can purchase our customizable appearance release that covers everything you need to prevent unwanted lawsuits. Don’t waste any more time! To get started, purchase the customizable form or book ✍ a consultancy service with us here.