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Robert McEwen, Esq.
Robert McEwen, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 15573
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Hello, Im making a documentary film and Im thinking of put

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Hello, I'm making a documentary film and I'm thinking of putting a bunch of videos in my movie and I'm not sure if they fall under fair use or not. My film is a non profit and for educational purposes only, the clips are from here and there mostly from YouTube and the group of videos I want to use are from professors speaking on a room and some footage from a news channel like fox and stuff like that so any help? And thank you.

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

Customer: Ok
Robert McEwen, Esq. :

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:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

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.

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

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)

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

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)

Customer: I'm afraid it might affect the authors market or something like that it said on the copyright law. See I'm gonna use the clips to proof them wrong and probably make them look bad to the public what u think?
Robert McEwen, Esq. :

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).

Customer: Oh ok do u think there are any things I should avoid or do in making the film?
Robert McEwen, Esq. :

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).

Customer: Ok
Customer: Thanks alot
Robert McEwen, Esq. :

My pleasure.If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

Customer: Ok I got u and thanks
Robert McEwen, Esq. :

You're welcome, and again, good luck to you!

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

Please note that this question remains open until you rate it.

Robert McEwen, Esq. :


Robert McEwen, Esq. :

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating...

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

Robert McEwen, Esq. :

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (~25 minutes) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer: I just clicked on excellent service and I submitted it and sorry my boss walked in I had to turn off the computer lol
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