Producing moving image has never been so widespread and easily accessible. From Vines to music videos and low-budget films, you have the opportunity to share your personal vision through YouTube, Vimeo and many other online platforms. But before you do so, it is worth to check what are the rights and wrongs of creating, sharing and using online content. As a creative artist, you are entitled to maintain the copyright of your works regardless of the channel you publish them. In other words, whatever materials you find in the vastness of the Internet, there is a good chance it is copyright protected. In the majority of cases the creator of the work owns the rights unless the copyright expired or the creator has explicitly given up all rights related to their work.
The online world is widely perceived as public domain roaming with creativity and rightfully so. The democratisation of content however does not mean that you can use whatever you come across. If you were to include bits of copyrighted work in your own product, you might have to that fair use covers educational purposes, criticism and commentary – otherwise you might face copyright infringement claims. To enforce copyright protection is mainly a responsibility of governments and web hosting platforms. To claim a neutral position in any infringement case, these hosting companies are keen on following regulations and take down offending content or websites.
What is Fair Use?
Fair use, fair dealing, fair practice and free use are variations on a theme. Fair use allows certain actions not to be regarded as infringement of the work. Although regulations vary by national laws, rule of thumb is, there are three main cases of fair use. The first is inclusion for news reporting purposes. Second, national laws allow limited educational use of works. The third element is incidental inclusion – for example if your filming location accidentally includes a film poster, a mural in the background or a musician playing in the distance. For a simple outline of UK regulations on including the works of others, consult the P-27 Fact Sheet.
For up-and-coming filmmakers, Raindance offers a Basic Legal Contracts Course where you can familiarize yourself with more than 20 types of copyright contracts and current regulations. Led by Tony Morris, creative industry veteran with clients ranging from film, TV and audio-visual producers, he will present the chain of title proceedings and answer questions regarding your legal options as a filmmaker. The next session will be held on 29 July, starting from 6:30 at Raindance Film Centre. Click here to see further details.