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Copyright Laws You Need to Know Before Creating Video

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Copyright laws protect creative content from being used without the creator’s permission, but while many people associate the law with written content, it’s important to remember the law protects video content as well. Whether you’re referring to video content you own or the content you borrow for your videos, copyright applies, and it’s a legal code you must abide by. Here are five points you need to know.

Requesting Permission for Copyrighted Content

According to the Stanford University Libraries, requesting permission to use copyrighted material is a multi-step process. You’ll first need to determine if you even need permission for the work you want to use (hint: most work published after 1922 is copyright protected and requires permission). You’ll then need to identify the owner and define the scope of rights needed. Will you use the content in a single advertising piece, or do you want to use it as part of a multi-media ad campaign?

The next step is to negotiate with the owner for use of their material. This is a process that can take months to complete. To protect your legal interests, make sure you get the agreement in writing. Once you have a signed agreement and have paid the owner, if applicable based on agreed-upon terms, you will then be able to use the copyrighted content.

Royalty and Royalty-free Content

If you have ever searched for images using the Images tab via Google, you may already know about royalty and royalty-free usage rights. These include images available for reuse, for non-commercial reuse, and for non-commercial reuse with modification. Be careful though – royalty-free isn’t always free. It just means you may pay a single licensing fee for unlimited use of the content, as opposed to a royalty fee paid for each use of the content in your videos, on your site, or on your social media pages.

If you cannot find out what type of usage rights are offered for a particular image or audio/video clip that you want to use, try a different tactic. Search only for royalty-free images and audio for commercial use.

Understanding Fair Use

In some instances, you may be able to use copyrighted content without getting permission, which is better known as fair use. However, be sure to follow the fair use laws in place to protect material that can be used without the owner’s permission.

These laws stipulate when and where you may be able to use such content. For example, the Center for Media and Social Impact notes that if you are commenting on copyrighted material, you have permission to use the original content on your video. Copyrighted material is also fair game to use as examples in your video.

Repurposing with Copyright Laws

In some instances, you may use content by repurposing it. An example would be using a few seconds of a song in a video introduction. Here you are repurposing the copyrighted content while preserving an experience, such as making a video about your company.

You can also repost content that is copyrighted if you are creating a cultural phenomenon or if it results in a meme. Another example of repurposing content within the bounds of copyright law involves background video footage. If your team is shooting a video and accidentally captures a clip of a copyrighted movie in the background, this is fair use under repurposing rules.

Protecting Your Interests

Copyright laws are here to protect both the creator and the consumer. Understand the rules so you can keep your business’s content compliant while respecting the work of artists and content creators.

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