Album cover art appearing in documentary film

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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Album cover art appearing in documentary film

Post by DrRockMagic »


I am producing a music documentary as a first film maker. The subject of our film talks about many albums and wishes that we show the album covers on screen. What are the relevant copyright issues around use of album artwork in film making?

Many thanks in advance

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Re: Album cover art appearing in documentary film

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Niall

Provided that your subject is talking about music from the album(s) in a way which could be described as criticism or review, then including short sequences showing the relevant album cover(s) would be permitted by the fair dealing exception for this purpose, contained in section 30 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988:
30 Criticism, review. quotation and news reporting.

(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work or of a performance of a work, does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement (unless this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise) and provided that the work has been made available to the public.
However it would not be fair dealing if the subject of the film was merely listing the tracks on his/her iPod or something of that sort. He/she needs to discuss the music or lyrics in a way which analyses or elucidates the contents of the albums.
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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