The majority of filming requests made to the Smithsonian fall into the category of “incidental use” of Smithsonian content. In very few cases, the Smithsonian receives requests that seek to use Smithsonian content in a significant way (such as, a one-hour special on museums with 30 minutes devoted to Smithsonian collections) in films that are proposed for broadcast or cable television (in contrast to films that, for example, are distributed on local access channels or as part of school course work).
In determining if a request is to use more than an incidental amount of Smithsonian content, the public affairs officer and a central Smithsonian committee considers a number of factors, among them: the subject matter of the film; the total run time of the film; the estimated run time for Smithsonian content; and how many other organizations or experts are participating in the program. In the rare cases that a request is made to use Smithsonian content in a significant way, (e.g., not “incidental”) there are options available to both the Smithsonian and the filmmaker. Independent filmmakers may decrease the amount of Smithsonian content to make it incidental. The filmmaker may approach Smithsonian Networks about filming the program for Smithsonian Channel. (If a filmmaker elects to do this, all negotiations will be between the filmmaker and Smithsonian Networks, which will follow all standard business practices, including copyright considerations.)
The Smithsonian may elect to pursue certain programs outside of Smithsonian Networks.
If none of the above options are acceptable or feasible, the Smithsonian may decline the request.