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Rules for using Copyright Material in Video Projects – Entertainment Law Asked & Answered



What are the rules for using copyright material in your video projects?

Hi, I'm attorney Gordon Firemark, and this is Asked and Answered, where I answer your entertainment law questions, to help you take your career and business to the next level.

Danny wrote to me with this question:

“Just watched your video on using film clips in movie reviews. My question is, is the process the same for using clips from TV shows, specials (such as awards ceremonies/ red carpet.. etc..), or made for TV movies? Also what about use of Movie Posters and or still photos from the film? Thank you.”

Well, Danny, this one isn’t quite the same. With movie review shows, the concept of Fair Use is a factor… But here that may not be the case.

You have to:

1. Identify the owner of the material you're using.
2. Ask for Permission for the use you intend.
3. Get it in writing.

The best practice is to assume that everything you're including in your video that you yourself didn't create, is protected by copyright, and owned by the person or company that did create it.

So, whether it's a clip from a film, TV show, music, or a still photograph or a poster, or even a sculpture, you need to consider the question of copyright. Unless you're sure it's in the public domain, you go get the permission.

Yes, there are some exceptions. Fair Use, for example… But that involves a complex four-factor analysis, and you can't really be sure that your use is a “fair use” unless you hire a lawyer like me to do the analysis, or wait for a jury to decide if you get sued.

So, track down the owner, ask permission, and get it in writing. Please. It'll make things so much easier.

If you need help with this kind of thing… Well, that's exactly what we do here. Visit us at to book a consultation. You might be surprised how easy and inexpensive it is to do things by the book. And after all, isn't sleeping at night worth it?

And if you have a question you'd like me to answer here, submit it at

See you next time.


This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

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