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Getting a handle on Fair Use for online video content

If you’re creating informational videos about your products and services, can you use copyrighted content for b-roll and graphics? Are you allowed to include photos from Google images, or screen shots of news stories in your video? Can you have copyrighted music playing in the background of your video? What if the music is directly incorporated in the context of the video?

If you are publishing video online, you need to know the answers to these questions in order to stay out of court.  Currently, the Associated Press and artist Shepard Fairey are involved in a lawsuit over his “Hope” portrait of President Obama, which was based on the work of an AP photographer. Similarly, Universal Music Group is suing a mother of two for playing Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” in the background of a video she shot of her toddlers eating. If a mom can get sued, then marketers, agencies and brands are even more likely targets.

The central issue behind these horror stories is the Fair Use doctrine of the United States Copyright Act and its equivalents in other countries around the world.  Fair Use is an often misunderstood set of guidelines governing when and how you can use the work of others in your media, including online video.  As the amount of video and media you put online increases, so does the likelihood that you might use someone else’s content without their permission. Sadly, many video producers, agencies, and marketers don't fully grasp how Fair Use works, at that puts them at risk.

To help set it all straight, new media expert Daisy Whitney wrote a new EBook on Fair Use.  She released it this week on her site and it’s called “Keeping You and Your Content Out of Court.”  It’s targeted to media producers, video creators and brands making video today, which translates into just about anyone and everyone.  Be sure to check it out.