Lesson Details

Subject: Business

Title: Copyright


Stories about copyright infringement appear in the news all the time. Here Lisa explains what copyright is and how you can void breaching someone’s copyright in the videos you make. Getting it wrong can prove an expensive mistake.


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Here at The Video Journalist people quite often ask me, “I have an idea for a TV show how do I protect my idea?” And I explained to them that you can't actually protect an idea but what you can protect is the expression of an idea and in this lesson we’re going to look at copyright. Copyright as you know is a fairly complex area of the law but it's important for filmmakers. Filmmakers very often become very involved in the creative process and they don't pay attention to things like copyright infringement and when you're out filming it's really important that you don't unintentionally infringe somebody’s copyright or intentionally infringe it. You can register your copyright and we’ll talk about that in a moment but first I want to run through a list of the things that come under this term of copyright.

Things that you may come across in everyday filming that you need to be aware could be copyright protected and that you may need the permission or a license from the copyright holder. Okay so let's take a look at all the list of the things that could be copyright protected that you need to be aware of. Drawings, choreography, film and video clips, TV shows, photographs, posters, sculptures, letters, quotes from books and poems, newspaper articles, magazine and newspaper covers, fashion items, makeup, music and works of art. So copyright is a kind of stamp of creative ownership and you can copyright any of the things that we just showed you by registering your copyright and there are different ways to do that depending on which country you're in and generally one country will respect another country’s copyright registration process.

In America it can all be done online but you need to send in the various items that you need copywriting and it costs $35 and you can copyright as many different things as you want. So it’s very important to register your copyright. Don’t just assume that you're going to have copyright just by virtue of the fact that you have an expression of an idea. So make sure that you do the registration process. Also when it comes to copyright you want to make sure that you are not infringing anyone else's copyright and so it's very important that when you're out and about you’re doing your filming look for the are things that are on that list. You’ll very often see in TV shows for example in television programming about you know filming in people's homes you’ll very often see that works of art been blurred on the wall and that's because they don't have the permission of the copyright holder in order to show that.

So when you're out and about look for the things that are on that list. A very common mistake that people make is with magazine covers. So for example you're filming somebody sitting in a cafe and your subject is reading a magazine and to you the magazine is really extraneous to the whole scene. However, the front of that magazine is very likely to have a photograph on it and the copyright will probably not even belong to the magazine. It will belong to the freelance photographer who took the image. So really with copyright you have to be very careful. Make sure that anything that could be copyright protected you either take out of your video, you blur it, or better than that you get permission from the copyright holder and you can actually use it.

© Michael Rosenblum & Lisa Lambden 2015