In Part 2 of my 2-part interview with entertainment and media lawyer Gordon P. Firemark, he shares with us about how to get and give proper permissions and licensing for online videos, as well as how to have your attorney negotiate deals and draft contracts with online video in your business.

If you wish to hear an audio version of my interview, check out Part 1 of our interview, which features the podcast recording.

(DISCLAIMER: The following information contained in this interview and entire article is intended to provide general information and does not constitute as legal advice. We recommend that you should not act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney.)

How to Obtain Permissions for Online Video Content

What’s a good way for businesses to go about using an attorney to obtain proper permissions for using other people’s intellectual property (or other rights) in their own online videos?

First off. I’ll say that yes it’s a good idea to get permissions.  That’s the “err on the side of caution” side of it.  But there’s often times situations where you don’t really need permission. For example, if you’re doing something that’s newsworthy, you may not need permission to show a video of the person that’s being discussed or something like that.  It varies.

The first way I help a client is by clarifying for them whether or not they do, in fact, need those permissions. Once that we’ve decided if they do (need to get permissions), then it’s a matter of helping them craft the request in such a way that it will most likely be granted, and to structure the terms of the license agreement. (License agreements are drafted both for receiving and granting permissions.)

A license or agreement is really only as good as the paper it’s written on, and you want it to cover all the things you may potentially want it to do, or see it being used for.

What situations do you see with getting permissions that may not be legally binding?

Situations I see is that someone may get just an oral permission; or sometimes they’ll even record the permission in the context of a podcast or a video or something, but it’s only, ‘yes you can use my performance in your podcast.’  Well what if you later decide to turn that podcast into some kind of an information product; and now you’re selling it for who knows, $300-$400 a pop –something like that? Well now that person’s feeling like they got exploited or jipped or something, and they come out of the woodwork and say “now wait, that’s not what I said you could do with this performance.”

So crafting the document, the agreement that they hopefully sign off on paper, is a big part of what I do to make sure that it’s as comprehensive as possible. Only a properly written contract can cover all the possible eventualities (and be legally binding).

Ways an Experienced New-media Attorney Can Help with Video

What other things does an attorney like you help a business with their interests involving online video?

I also get involved in actually negotiating the deals, if you are going to be getting permission from somebody or a license.  It’s not a given that an agreement is going to be articulated exactly the way you want.  So you may be having money change hands, or money’s going to change hands later. So again, lawyers are there for you to working out all those details, at the least the transactional lawyers are.  That’s also for some of our clients who are more artist-oriented, or art oriented I should say. They don’t have to think about all those nitty-gritty details; and they can trust us to get it done for them and get it right, so they can move on with their creation.

You host and produce the Entertainment Law Update Podcast, which is available at, as well as iTunes. Can you tell our audience, many whom produce, publish, and promote online video, what they could stand to gain from following your podcast show and learning about entertainment law?

The podcast is designed to be sort of a high-level education on the legal issues, cases and news items that are coming up every month.  My co-host and I get together via Skype about once a month and talk through a bunch of cases, decisions, and issues that have arisen in the last month or so; and we cover those legal issues in some depth.  We tend to use the legal shorthand.  Our audience is largely lawyers, law students, and executives in this industry who are thinking about these things already.  But I think everybody who listens will take something away and learn some of the rules and also how the law works and evolves and gets applied to these situations.

New Media Producer’s Legal Survival Guide

Tell us about your eBook you have out right now, the “Podcast, Blog and New Media Producer’s Legal Survival Guide.”

Well I realized as a podcaster myself, and thinking about these kinds of issues, that so many podcasters, bloggers, and new media producers are really doing it at the hobbyist level; or they’re brand new, just getting started, and can’t really afford a the expense of hiring a lawyer.  So I thought this was a great area that needs to be covered, since the information is just not getting out there. I sat down and over the course of a few months and put together a summary of the legal issues that we’ve talked about today: Copyrights, contracts, trademarks, libel, slander, privacy rights, publicity rights, fair use rights – and I compiled it all into an eBook.

The book is available for sale at, and you can also find a link on my Website for that.  The book is designed to help folks in the creation of new media – podcasts, video, blogs and all that. It will help people sort of know what the rules are, and where the boundaries lie; and most importantly, to identify when they really do need to get a lawyer.  So I won’t say it’s exactly a how-to guide or a do-it-yourself.  It’s a set of guidelines for the people we know are already doing it themselves to tell them and warn them when they might be getting in over their heads. I think it’s really important that folks who are entering this area know and understand the framework that they’re operating in.

Contact Gordon P. Firemark for Your Own Legal Video Needs?

You can go to and fill out the e-mail form on his “Contact Us” page, or phone his office at 310.443.4185. You can also reach him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter under the same handle he uses, “gfiremark.”

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