Rights Clearance in Entertainment Deals: Rethinking the Doctrine of Fair Use

Recently, the issue of clearance came into play when two artists: Goya Menor and Nektunez sampled the 1996 song, Ameno by E.R.A which became popular in the Nigerian music circle in 2021. The new song popularly known as “Ameno Dorime” was abruptly pulled from Digital Streaming Platforms (DSPs). In simple terms, Goya and Nektunez failed to obtain the right level of music clearance from the right holders in the song.

When you plan to create content or use existing third-party content in a new work, a review is needed to ensure that it is permitted to use such content. This review is what is known as the right clearance.

To conduct the right clearance, engage an entertainment lawyer to do the following:

  1. Identify protectable content.

  2. Determine who owns or controls the rights to the content.

  3. Evaluate to determine whether or not permission is needed.

  4. Seek permission from the rights owner, if permission is required.

In the event that there is unauthorized use of a third party’s intellectual property, liability could arise for such infringement. The unauthorized use of a third party’s content could subject the infringer to liability for violating a third party’s copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property or proprietary rights.

A rights clearance review should be done for all content, which includes but is not limited to films, books, songs, television shows, advertisements, online videos, etc.

Although there is a degree of fair use permissible in the creative industry to encourage continuous creativity and to avoid stifling creativity, creatives need to be protected as well as their creations and unauthorized use will amount to infringement and attract liability.

Conclusively, it is best to make requests for permission in writing before using third-party content. It is also advisable to engage an entertainment lawyer to assist in the process so as not to miss any important step that may result in impending liability.


Learn more about Right Clearance for films, books, songs, television shows, advertisements, and online videos from S.E.T GUIDE SERIES: Entertainment Law – Intellectual Property and More a production of OLISA AGBAKOBA LEGAL.

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Written By:

Emmanuel Agherario Associate II


Emmanuel Agherario