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Can an Ad change the nature of non-profit video?

Posted: Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:19 pm
by Halie0201

We used some free video footage in our gospel videos. Before, we have contacted the copyright holder and they said we can use the footage as long as it's for non-profit purposes. Recently, a TV station contacted our church and wanted to play our gospel videos on TV. Generally, the TV station will add advertisement in their program. In this case, TV station will get money from Advertisement. So when they play our video, they will also divide our video into several parts and add advertisement between them. But our church will get no money from the Ad or TV station. I want to know, will the advertisement change the non-commercial nature of our gospel videos? Will this commercial insertion make our video a profit one and go against the permission of the copyright owner of footage? I just think it's the relationship between the copyright holder of the footage and our church, and as long as the church, who is the copyright owner of the gospel video, doesn't money, this should be okay, right? And the money TV station gets from Ad is just their own business, as they will add ads to every program. Is it like this?

Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:51 am
by AndyJ
Hi halie,

Perhaps the first thing we need to clarify is what the copyright holder said and in what form it was said. Did they say 'non-profit' or 'commercial use'? There is a difference and not-for-commercial use is the more usual stipulation a rightsholder would apply. Non-profit could include commercial use so long as there is no profit being made.

This is relevant here because although the church may not be making a profit, the TV station is. The second issue is: was this agreement verbal or written? If it was verbal, it is unlikely that the two parties (the rightsholder and the church) will have exactly the same recollection of what was said. However if it was a written agreement or licence, there may be a contextual meaning which helps clarify whether the non-profit condition is intended to apply just to the church, or also to anyone who is not a direct party to the agreement. Technically speaking, it is very hard for a rightsholder to bind a third party to the terms of a contract, so at first sight it would appear that only the church is barred from making a profit.

Since I assume it was made clear to the rightsholder that you would be publishing your video, it would be reasonably foreseeable that there might be some commercial aspect to the publication (say, the cost of reproduction and distribution of DVDs etc) Even using platforms like Youtube or Vimeo have commercial implications. This matters, because if a court was required to decide the meaning of the contract they would generally try to infer what the parties meant to happen, in the absence of specific wording to cover the situation.

All of this uncertainty makes it essential that you go back to the rightsholder for clarification of the terms. Only they can decide about the meaning non-profit, and if they do wish to exclude third parties from making a profit, it is better to find out now, rather than face an infringement claim later.

Posted: Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:19 pm
by Halie0201
Thank you!
when we find a good video clip, we will write an email to the uploader, to confirm the points below before we can use it:
1. We will tell he uploader we are a church, make gospel videos to share with others for free. Church makes no money in this process.
2. We may do editing with the video clips.
3. We may upload the videos onto various platforms such as Youtube, maybe TV in the future.
4. It's a life-time permission for us to use.
5. the uploader is the copyright owner and have the right to allow us to use.

Do you think it's enough for us to use the videos safely after confirm these points? What else we should pay attention to?

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:50 pm
by AndyJ
Hi halie,

That all sounds very sensible. I suspect that someone who was producing the sort of videos you might want to use may well be less concerned about the partricular problem you raised previously. Clearly if they are concerned about any potential commercial damage to their own video they are not likely to agree to your terms in the first place, so I think you should be OK to carry on as you are. Inevitably, no matter how careful you are, if you make your videos freely available there is always the chance that someone less altruistic may try to make a quick buck from your work, either directly or indirectly.

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:19 pm
by Halie0201
Yes, our church is always careful about copyright... Because if we are involved in a copyright infringement, it will have a very bad effect on our reputation and maybe cause a big lose of money. And as a Christian, we have to be honest and cannot steal others' work. Just want to make sure if all the details in our email are enough. Although we didn't sign a formal agreement...but I think it has covered the essential points for us so that we can use it for a life time and basically will not cause any dispute, right? Can you think any other thing we should mention in our email?

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:16 pm
by AndyJ
As an informal arrangement I don't think there's any need to add any additional details. And of course I assume it is always open to the copyright owner to come back with any other questions or stipulations of their own before they agree.
Although you acknowledge their ownership of copyright in the email, do you offer them a credit within the video itself? This might provide a degree of extra protection as it would delineate that different licensing terms may apply to your part of the video and theirs.

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:55 pm
by Halie0201
We have added credit according to the requirement of the copyright owner, some at the end of the video, some in the description as they asked. ^_^