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Using Youtube Videos in Independent Documentary

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:16 pm    Post subject: Using Youtube Videos in Independent Documentary Reply with quote

Hi Forum

This is my first post, ive tried to do a search but not had any luck. Hopefully im in the right place to have a few questions answered Very Happy

I am producing an independent documentary and there are thousands of clips on youtube that id like to consider using. Some by news channels such as CBS and some by independent people, and some independent people aggregating other content.

I plan so sell my documentary. My question is: Can I use any of this footage and not be breaking copyright laws? I will reference the source, can it be used under a fair usage policy?

Any help offered is greatly appreciated.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Daniel,
You obviously recognise that every clip on YouTube etc will be subject to copyright in one way or another. The difference betwen producers like CBS and Joe Bloggs who makes a home movie and puts it up, is that the former will be more likely to take action over alleged infringement, whereas the amateur may well not care about protecting his copyright.

You didn't explain too fully what the purpose of your documentary was, but if you feel it could defined as reporting on current affairs, then you may be allowed to include clips of copyright works under the fair dealing rules contained in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 s.30
30. Criticism, Review and News Reporting.

(2) Fair dealing with a work (other than a photograph) for the purpose of reporting current events does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that (subject to subsection (3)) it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.

(3) No acknowledgement is required in connection with the reporting of current events by means of a sound recording, film or broadcast where this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise.

There is no definition of current affairs in the act, but I would suggest that to qualify, the subject matter would need to be fairly newsworthy (ie what you might find in the news section of a newspaper) and not simply of cultural or historical interest. Also if you only use the minimum length of clip to illustrate your point, you are in a stronger position to qualify under the fair dealing rules. In a case involving a German television company called Pro Sieben and Carlton Television the Appeal Court found that the inclusion of a 30 second extract of a programme on multiple births made by Pro Sieben in a documerntary made for and broadcast by Carlton was fair dealing for the puropses s.30(2). In a separate case involving the review of a book written by L Ron Hubbard (of Scientiology fame) the judge Lord Denning MR said
To take long extracts and attach short comments may be unfair. But, short extracts and long comments may be fair.
Source: Hubbard v Vosper [1972] 2 Q.B. 84

That said, obtaining clearances to use the clips need not be that difficult where you have details of the broadcaster etc. Here's a link to a useful BBC guide on the subject of clearances.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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