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Can I distribute work with others' copyrighted materials?

Posted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 12:56 am
by Halie0201
I found a documentary that allowing me to use it for free. But I also found there are some clips in their documentary which they are not the copyright holder but are licensed to use these clips. When I tried to use their documentary, do I need to ask for additional permission from every copyright holder? Such as I use a 2 minute clip from the documentary, and 6 seconds in it are the materials they bought from BBC. In this case, do I have to ask for separate permission from BBC for the 6 second clip?

Posted: Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:32 am
by AndyJ
Hi Halie,

The principle is that each part - the documentary maker's own original bit and any bits from third party sources - remain separate and the latter would normally need separate permission in order for them to be re-used, if it was possible, as it appears it is in this case, to separate them. However if this was a piece of music in which a piece of a sampled track had been incorporated in a new song, clearly the two could not then be separated, and so using the second song with the incorporated sampling would not need separate permission from the first copyright holder.

This is going to sound like a bit of an obvious answer, but it will all depend on the licence the documentary film maker got from the BBC. However so long as you are merely including the BBC-owned clip within the context of the overall documentary I would have expected that the BBC licence would have anticipated that situation, especially if the documentary maker had made it clear how his/her video was to be made available. However it can't be an excuse to just use the BBC clips alone as an alternative to getting your own licence.

And of course, it might, in any case, also be permissible to use small parts of the BBC material under one of the fair dealing exceptions, but this would still need an acknowledgement of the BBC's copyright.

Does the documentary come with any terms and conditions? You say that the makers have said it can be used for free, but do they put any limitations on that, by way of a licence of their own? For instance I would be very surprised if they allowed other people to use their documentary as part of a commercial venture, and if that is so, there must be some small print somewhere defining the acceptable uses.

I think you should attempt to contact the documentary maker and ask. You are more likely to get a relevant answer than if you were to approach the BBC direct, since they would have to go and find the exact terms on which the original licence was given.