In 1970, while working for the Las Vegas International Hotel as a Security officer I found my self in the last frame of the last film Elvis made. The film freezes and they roll credits over our (Presley and my) images.I've contacted Warner Brothers, the film's owners and asked for license to use that one frame in my memoir and they've refused.Question . . .If I have an artist recreate that shot with slight changes do I have to seek permission from them for it's use?
State/Country relating to question: Arkansas
Warner Brothers clips and stills licensing, Julie Heath. 7/ 6/12
Did they explain why they said no? That would help us evaluate your other options.
No, pretty much boiler plate. Cut and dry with caveat not to try and use a frame grab or the like as that wasn't allowed either..They said the only stills/clips they licensed were those initially offered as advertisement and promotional to theaters.
One last question then - exactly how do you want to use it? That is, is this a small piece of the memoir? More? Cover?
Actually the book wraps (last lines) on the last frame of the film.
Actually the memoir wraps (ie last paragraph) centers on that picture.
It strikes me that you have a good argument that your use is a "fair use" -- which means you can use the clip even without permission. There is a famous case that is similar to your example. In that case, someone was writing a book about the Grateful Dead and wanted to use (copyrighted) images to help tell the truthful story about the band. The copyright holder said no, sued, and lost, because the court thought this sort of use should be allowed. The court's view was that this was a small harm (at most) to the copyright holder, and that the use of the images really helped in terms of getting the truthful story of the band out. You should google the phrase "fair use graham archive" and read the court opinion. Nothing is absolute here, but it strikes me that you have a good argument.
One safe approach would be to contact the licensing department again, point out that your use seems like it does fit in the fair use doctrine in light of the Graham Archives case, and ask them to consider that and respond.
Hope that helps. Good luck.
Professor of Law at Top-Tier Law School, specializing in patent & copyright
How might a line or two of song lyrics apply to "fair use"?
A small enough excerpt, taken with enough justification, might indeed be fair use. It all depends on the details -- why you took it? why the copyright holder didn't say yes? how much economic harm it might cause? etc.
Fair use is very fact-specific, and judge-specific, annoyingly. Hard to predict ahead of time.
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