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5 November 2019

10 Essential Steps to Licensing Archive Footage

After 30 years in business, CNN Collection offers more than four million assets for licensing. But getting the footage you need doesn’t have to be complicated. Answering these 10 essential questions makes it simple to quickly find the content your project needs and obtain the right licensing package. 

Optimize your footage licensing process by: 

  • Defining your project parameters 

  • Streamlining your research process 

  • Identifying your content distribution goals 

  • Understanding the ideal rights package


First, think about your project and determine the parameters.

 1. What is your project type?

  • Film

  • Documentary

  • Feature Film

  • Television Series

  • Streaming Platform

  • Advertisement 

  • Public display (museum, etc.)

 2. Where will your project be distributed?

  • Cable TV

  • Television 
  • Theaters 
  • Worldwide
  • Network TV

  • Public TV

  • Digital Platform

 3. What rights package do you need? Remember to consider: 

    • Term (one-year or perpetuity)

    • Territory (national or worldwide)

    • Type of content selected


  4. What type of media are you looking for?

    • Video 

    • Audio 

    •  Stills (pictures) 

    • Text (headline or content from a story)


5. Which of the following types of content do you need?

    • Branded content includes exclusive talent, logo, or other premium features 

    • B-roll or stock shots 

    • Deep archives *** may not be available online. 

    • Royalty-Free 

    • Custom content can be created to your specifications (custom storylines, aerial, production, etc.)


 6.  Who is doing the research? 

  • Licensing experts can save time by helping you research entire archives. The more information you can provide, the more precise the research results will be. Helpful details include: 
      • Topic

      • Date/time of broadcast 

      • Show name 

      • Location 

      • Guest of talent


    • Do your own research. The trick to finding great footage is knowing where to look:
      • Online footage libraries

      • YouTube

      • Focal International – international trade organization representing more than 120 footage libraries across the globe

      • – online database for TV and film producers of 25 archival and news footage libraries 


 7. How can you access the screener?

    • If you did the research, simply download available free screeners from the online database

    • If the research was done by licensing experts, staff will provide you with a range of options before sending your screeners for review.


 8. Does the footage have clearance?

    • If you’re using branded footage, you’ll need to provide a rough cut of the project for contextual review 

 9. How will you pay for the license?

    • Invoice 

    • Credit card 

    • Wire transfer 

10. How will you take delivery of your footage?

    • Website 

    • FTP 


CNN Collection, the content licensing arm of CNN, is your production partner for archived footage spanning from the early 20th century to today’s biggest global and local news coverage. With a library drawing from more than four million assets, CNN Collection offers clips across popular categories like crime and justice, weather, military, politics and more. If it’s newsworthy, CNN has it. 


To learn more or to license footage, contact our licensing experts at or call (866) 462-4350.





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