What Is a Material Release Form and When Do You Need One?

Protect your production team from legal liability by making people sign a material release form.

In the video production industry, the term “material” refers to any audio, video, or photographic content that is obtained from an external source, rather than being created specifically by the producer for a particular project. This can include raw footage, edited content, stock footage, archive footage, sound recordings, and images. Depending on the nature of the video, attaining media of this nature through a material release form may be the building block of any video production, and it is essential to have the necessary permissions and legal documentation in place before using it.

What Is a Material Release Form?

A material release form is used when the producer does not own the media displayed in the production and is a legal agreement between the producer and the media owner. It grants permission to use the materials such as photographs, artwork, or video footage in the production. 

Often, you will hear the term Material release about an individual (not a business or organization) allowing specific video, image, or audio files to be used in production. For example, imagine a crime show where an individual will enable photos of the family to be seen in the video. To place those images in the video without fearing legal action, the producer must have the individual sign a Material release form. 

The term material release might be used when utilizing video, images, and audio content from a business or organization. However, depending on the nature of media, you might also hear some other terms, such as acquired media or archive media. The important thing is to consider material releases as the category, with more specific names used for different media types. 

For example, another type of material release is called an acquired media release form. Acquired media release forms are used for footage purchased from a stock library or a professional organization, like a news organization.

Another type of material release is called an archive release. This is very similar to acquired media releases. Archive releases are used for old footage taken from an archive, such as a library or museum. 

The different types of material release forms are often used interchangeably because of how similar they are. Just know that if you ever hear of one of these release types, they are simply one of the many types of releases within the material release family.

When Do You Need a Material Release Form?

A material release form is needed in the video production industry when you plan to use footage or images of people, places, or products that are not owned by the production company. Material release forms are particularly important for commercial videos because they involve the promotion of products or services.

What Information Should Be Included in a Material Release Form?

A material release form should include the following information:

  • The name and address of the owner of the media
  • The name and address of the producer
  • The title and description of the production
  • The type of material media being used in the production (video, photos, audio, etc.)
  • The duration of the use of the material media
  • The compensation, if any, for the media owner
  • The rights granted to the producer
  • The signatures of the media owner and the producer

Where Can I Find a Material Release Form Template?

You can easily find a material release form template by searching for it on Google. Simply type “material release form template” into the search bar and press enter. You will be presented with various websites that offer free or paid templates that you can download and customize to fit your specific needs. 

Get the Best Release Management System in the Market

Companies can protect themselves from legal liability by getting material release forms signed for any item that could potentially cause trouble if used without permission. Unfortunately, with traditional release management methods, this can be costly and time consuming. That is where a release management system comes in.

ReleaseME by MEsuite is a release management software that will help you streamline the signing process. With ReleaseME, you can easily create hundreds of material release forms, send them to the owners for their signature or let them access the form by scanning a QR code, and track the status of each release in real time.

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