Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer
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Assuming that these would be short clips of the professors talks and short clips of the news programs, they almost certainly would be fair use. 17 U.S.C. § 107: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:
Typically documentaries are determined to be for criticism, comment, news reporting, or teaching. The fact that it's not for profit helps, as well as the work that is being used.
The documentary is not going to use a large portion of the copyrighted work, and will have likely zero effect on the potential market for the copyrighted work (that is, potential "purchasers" of those works will not buy / view yours instead, which is generally why a smaller amount used is better, because a small amount of the copyrighted work would not give a viewer the entire context (assuming that viewer would purchase / view the copyrighted work otherwise)
Finally, it's very rare that copyright holders would go after documentary filmmakers in the first place. There's no money in such litigation, and typically they only do so if their egos are hurt (but even then, it's an uphill battle if the documentary is of a non-profit nature, which is one of the greatest challenges facing a copyright holder)
This is not an "all or nothing" type situation. The fact that this is used for "criticism, comment... news reporting..." etc... is the most important aspect. Proving a copyright holder wrong on a matter, even though it could affect the market, it's not because the use of the copyright was so substantial that a potential borrower would not purchase the copyrighted material, but rather that you proved it wrong (which is not related to copyright).
I would certainly be as honest as possible (don't take things out of context, etc...), and limit the use of the copyrighted materials to the issues at hand (that is, shorter is better for fair use).
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