If your business gets the rights to use someone else’s intellectual property, it’s important to note that these rights may be very specific. You don’t want to make any assumptions about what you’re allowed to do or how you’re allowed to use the material. Doing so could lead to potential litigation in the future, or can at least harm that working relationship.
This is why it’s important to have all these contracts written out and examined properly by your legal team. Everyone at the company must know exactly what they are allowed to do to avoid breaching the contract. When the small details matter and millions of dollars may be on the line, you simply have to get it right.
Using unauthorized material
An example of this played out recently, when the Pat McAfee Show was accused of using material they didn’t have a right to use by the National Football League. McAfee was once a punter for the Indianapolis Colts and has gone on to start a YouTube channel that has become one of the most popular sports channels in the country.
As a result of this growing popularity, McAfee‘s team was able to secure the rights to use NFL footage during their show. They can show clips of the game, for example, while breaking down the play. The NFL famously has disclaimers before every football game saying that no one can use the contents of the broadcast without permission, and McAfee claimed that it cost his show “millions and millions” of dollars to get those rights.
However, the NFL later contacted him and said that he had to stop using team logos when they would make graphics for his online show. McAfee had no idea that he wasn’t allowed to use the graphics, since he was allowed to use the video clips, and was surprised by the turn of events. It did get sorted out and he got the rights back, but it shows how making assumptions about what you’re allowed to use can be problematic.
If your company is involved in a complicated process where some of these questions are being asked, you need to know about all of the legal steps you can take to move forward.