Order a Title Search or Clearance Report from our online form:

{Frequently Asked Questions}

Will e&o insurers accept your script clearance/title search reports?
Yes. Since our incorporation in 1993 we have never heard of an insurance company having issues with or concerns about our work.
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Do we need to set up an account with you?
No. Simply let us know what you need and we will send a bill. No credit application is required. We ask that you complete a very short order form.
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What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept cheques (business or personal) and wire transfers. We continue to avoid the additional overhead of credit card payments as a way to keep our costs to you as low as possible. In rush situations, a photocopy or scan of cheque is acceptable to us as proof that payment is forthcoming.
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What do you charge for this work?
Please request a current rate sheet. Our prices for feature film clearance reports vary depending on your desired turnaround time. Prices for title searches vary depending on turnaround time and the scope of the search (global, French language distribution, North American, U.S. only, Canada only). Rate sheets also cover all options for television series work (pilot scripts and episodic reports).
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What is your billing policy for revisions and miscellaneous art department requests?
We bill at an hourly rate for both of these. A bill is sent when there is enough work collected to merit preparing/sending an invoice.
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What is your billing process for title searches, for clearance work?
We request prepayment on work for title searches, feature films, and pilot scripts. For ongoing series work, we bill on a weekly basis. We send all invoices by email.
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What’s the turnaround time on a title search report?
We have four turnaround times on our title searches: 10, 7, 5 and 3 business days. We cannot always accommodate 3-day turnaround, please contact us in advance to confirm that this will be possible.
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What's the turnaround time on a clearance report?
We have four turnaround times for feature films: 10, 7, 5, and 3 business day turnaround. We cannot always accommodate 3-day turnaround, please contact us in advance to confirm that this will be possible.

For regular television episodes we promise 5 business day turnaround on 1-hour scripts and 3 business day turnaround on 30-minute scripts. For pilot episodes we promise 8 business day turnaround on 1-hour scripts and 5 business day turnaround on 30-minute scripts.
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We’re block shooting, how do you handle that?
For a series that is block shooting, we can accommodate simultaneous turnaround on 2 scripts but we charge an added fee of 50% on the second script report for this accelerated turnaround, otherwise the scripts are scheduled for consecutive turnaround in order of priority. Please be sure to let us know that you are block shooting when you contact us to request a rate sheet.
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How do I submit a request?
Incoming emails are monitored in a central email box from which all requests are processed. Turnaround time is then confirmed with the client.
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Will you assign one person to work on our television series?
No. Work is distributed according to daily priority and staff availability. We have found over time that having different people work on a series has far more benefits than disadvantages. In this way we are able to have a collective “institutional memory” for each series we work on.
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What is the difference between a title search and a clearance report?
A clearance report includes notes on elements within a script such as character names, dialogue references, featured set dressing items, music use, etc. We research these elements in order to assess risk. Have you, for example, inadvertently chosen as the name of your main character (a New York doctor) the name of the only licensed doctor by that name in the state of New York? Once received, the production office goes through the report item by item to consider the conflicts we have identified. We provide clear alternatives for scenarios such as the New York doctor situation above so that you can quickly substitute another name if time is scarce.

A title search looks only at the title of a project and shows you uses of same and similar titles in: film/television projects, business names, domain names, relevant copyright registrations, music, plays, publishing, radio, and trademark registrations (in the classes that include media projects). The document then goes to production counsel who assess risk and determine (with counsel for e&o insurer) if the title is safe to use.
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Why do a title search, I thought titles couldn’t be copyrighted?
It is true that a title alone cannot get copyright protection, only the work itself can get that protection. Insurers want to see a title search report for a variety of reasons. They want to be confident that your project will not be released at the same time as another by the same name to avoid confusion that could lead to loss of revenue for your project. They also want to make sure that your work is not using the “goodwill” of another in order to sell itself; for example, the estate of Margaret Mitchell might take exception to a film by the title Gone With the Wind of Arizona. Finally — insurance aside — having a unique title can help yours stand out on a shelf at the video store.
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We have a title that has been used before – probably many times. Does that automatically mean we can't use it?
The answer is (the much-dreaded): "it all depends." It depends on how many other projects are using that title, how recent those projects are, and who are the owners of the properties. If there are quite a lot by the title but they are significantly in the past and there seems to be no trademark registration involved, you will have less of a potential conflict. BUT you might think twice if only one of the listings is currently "in production" and is owned by a major motion picture studio. Or perhaps we find a series of books by your title published by a major publisher that has a new trademark registration in a lot of classes ( they'll be selling books, backpacks, video games, etc.). So, we really have to look at all the sources and get the big picture before you can come to a logical conclusion about the risk factor. That conclusion comes from a conversation between you and your production counsel.
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Can we get a shorter cheaper title search, we are super low budget?
We recently put together something just like that for the insurance companies to consider accepting, an abbreviated source list title search product that would have been more affordable. From their point of view, however, the risk (and in most cases the limits required) are the same regardless of the budget. So the full search is required regardless of budget size or project length. Sorry to say.
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Do you conduct title searches for television episodes?
Yes, we can incorporate preliminary title search notes into any television episode report for a small additional fee. Please email for a current rate sheet and details on sources consulted.
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Do I need an “opinion” on my title search, if so how do I get this?
Our understanding is that there is a divide on this issue between Canada and the U.S. In Canada, production counsel usually delivers the verdict on whether a title is clear to use or not. In the U.S., a written opinion is typically needed in addition to the title search report that we provide. That opinion must come from a lawyer who has some experience in the e&o field. Please contact us for a list of referrals to U.S. lawyers who provide title search opinions.
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Do you do research on images/logos you would like to use as part of your project?
We can conduct preliminary research if what you are trying to find is the rights holder for a particular image. A typical request in this vein is from someone in the art department who found a framed print at an antique shop which he/she would like to use as set dressing but there is no rights holder known or noted on the work.

If what you need is a full search on an original design/artwork that production has created to feature as a distinguishing logo of the production—something that might be a featured story element— then you will likely require the more detailed product called a “design (code) search.” Again in this instance we recommend contacting Thomson CompuMark.
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Do you do footage + music clearances?
We refer these enquiries to two colleagues, one in Canada and one in the U.S. They each have decades of expertise in that specific field and thus are quickly able to 1. assess the amount of work/time that might be involved; 2. redirect you immediately if their experience tells them you will be paying more and waiting longer than you are able; 3. access their vast resources for quick contact with rights holders; and 4. negotiate on your behalf with years of experience to guide that process.
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How can we figure out if some footage or music we want to use is in the public domain?
One of our favorite resources for beginning to explain how complex the answer to this question is can be found here.

This page (“When U.S. works pass into the public domain”) introduces only some of the considerations taken into account for figuring this out (when was the work created, were renewals processed, was notice posted, etc.). Also note that the chart applies to U.S. works only; the country of origin is another factor to consider.

The best way to figure this out is to contact a company that is very experienced with copyright searching. We can refer you once we have more specific information about the work you're hoping to use.
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Is animation clearance work different from live action?
The primary additional clearance concern for clients with animated children’s projects is merchandising. Producers of most kids’ television want to ensure that they will be able to market story elements if that opportunity presents itself. So our typical clearance report for an animated children’s show includes extra searching of international trademark databases. The searching also involves “common law” sources (in–house book collection and lots of internet searching) to see what else is out there without trademark registration that might nonetheless present a conflict. This type of search can be quite time–consuming and the additional billable fees for database searching can be minimal or significant.
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What do we do when story elements don’t “clear” ?
Our reports always include clear alternatives that match, as much as possible, the flavor of what had been in your script. We aim for providing 3 clear alternatives. For difficult items we may consult the client for suggestions.
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When does our lawyer get involved in this process?
See our note re: title search opinions for more on this topic.

For clearance reports, typically the production office has 1 person who requests, receives, and distributes the clearance reports. Different departments figure out what needs to happen next. For example, someone in the art department looks at signage that needs to be made and finds out what the clearance report says re: whether the scripted names are clear or not. The script supervisor might be the person who picks from clear alternatives if a character name turns up “not clear.”

We would suggest that you involve a lawyer when there are issues beyond these easier decisions. If a signed release is needed, a lawyer should review whatever documents you intend to use. If there is a “not clear” name that you want to use regardless of our findings, it is best to consult with your lawyer re: the level of risk involved with whatever finding we had presented in report.
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What can you tell me about your staff, what background is needed for the work you do?
We come from diverse backgrounds—film studies, corporate public relations, teaching, law offices, human relations, editorial, self–employed tech support. Common denominator is attention to detail, it is the most important part of the job.
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