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Top 9 Copyright Tips for Videographers

Copyright Tips for Videographers

As someone who makes videos for a living, you must know how easy it can be for someone to copy and use your work without permission. Your creative work can be a target for copyright infringement, especially when your videos are accessible online.

You should also know, as a videographer, you also must be careful not to use the copyrighted work of others in your own videos unless those works are properly licensed.

You need to protect your work from copyright infringement, and you don’t want to violate the copyright of others. Here are nine things to focus on to help you understand your rights and obligations when it comes to videography and copyright.

A Copyright Legally Protects Your Rights

Copyright is a property right that attaches automatically to creative, original work when it is fixed in a tangible medium. Copyright gives the copyright holder or owner exclusive rights such as how, when, and where the work gets used, displayed, performed, and copied. Copyright laws are federal laws, and are enforceable across the nation (and in many other countries as well).

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses copyrighted work without consent or permission of the copyright holder. This could be from someone downloading it from the web and republishing without permission, using a screen capture of the video oin a product (i.e., t-shirt design), republishing the video on a news site, in a blog post, on a sharing site such as YouTube or in any other way that you have not authorized.

A copyright infringement may also occur when someone uses your work beyond the scope of a license you have granted to that person or entity.

Release Forms or Release Agreements

If you are filming individual people such as actors or models in your video, you should consider having them sign release forms. A release form gives you the right to use the video footage of them however you want to. If you are filming random crowds or people wandering the streets, there is no need for release agreements to retain the rights to the video footage , however, you may face claims from others for using their image. It is best to have signed releases when possible.

Make Sure You Get Music Legally

Music is an important part of most videos or films. Unless you are using royalty free music in your video, you must get permission from the copyright holder. You also need to be sure the music is actually royalty free and audio that has been published as “royalty free” when it is not. (I do not understand this line and it does not sound grammatically correct either) Otherwise, you run the risk of being a copyright infringer and facing claims from the creator or license holder of the audio.

Note that in some cases people license audio that is not royalty free for use in videos. These often carry a much higher cost, and you need to examine the license agreement carefully to determine the costs. While “royalty free” is what many prefer (to control costs), whether you are using audio on which you pay a royalty, or audio that is royalty free, you want to be sure you are not violating a copyright of the creator or license holder.

Make Sure You Get Images Legally

When you are shooting your video, make sure that any photographs, paintings, or other non-moving images you film are done so legally. You might have to get permission from the original photographer or artist if you want to include an image as part of the video (which may include paintings in the background of a room, t-shirts and hats worn by individuals, or other images that may appear in the video.

Similarly, if you are using moving still images, such as a Ken Burns effect, in your video, you need to be sure that moving still image is properly licensed and may be licensed for the purpose you intend.

Registering Your Federal Copyright

Once your final work is complete, you automatically hold copyright. However, registering your copyright can be an important step if someone infringes on your rights. You need to hold a valid registration to commence a copyright infringement lawsuit. Additionally, the timing of your registration and the alleged infringement can affect the type and amount of damages you might be entitled to collect.

Notice of Copyright

If you decide to release your video to the public, consider placing a copyright notice at its start to let people know it is protected work. While all work is considered protected, putting parties on notice of your copyright strengthens your claim against them should someone violate your copyright.

Fair Use

Fair use is a legal doctrine – often used as a defense to copyright infringement. If the use of copyrighted material falls under this doctrine, it may be legally used without the copyright holder’s permission. For example, if someone uses a clip from your video to report a news story, the court may deem this to be fair use and not copyright infringement. Alternatively, if you are creating an educational video about an American hero, filming a copyrighted photo of your subject may also be fair use and, therefore, not copyright infringement.

Fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis with many factors, including the extent to which the material is used, are they adding value (such as commentary) or merely rebroadcasting it, and other considerations.

Uploading Your Videos

Be sure to understand the implication of uploading your videos to any internet platform (for example, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and others). Doing so might compromise some of your rights to the material. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the service before uploading your content, so you fully understand what rights, if any, you are releasing.

Call Our US Copyright Attorneys at Sanders Law Group for Assistance

If you are a videographer with copyright concerns, call our lawyers today for a free consultation. Sanders Law Group is dedicated to ensuring creative professionals like you receive compensation for your work and damages when someone violates your copyright.

Let us help you protect your work and advocate for you if your rights are violated. Call our copyright infringement lawyers today at 888-348-3090.

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