The legal Implications of Copyright Laws when using Video (Unit 9)

Copyright law originated in the United Kingdom from a concept of common law; the Statute of Anne 1709. It became statutory with the passing of the Copyright Act 1911. The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

If you create a video, you may want to include elements of copyrighted material such as music or images, mixed into the final work. The fact that you own a CD or any other form of musical track does not mean that you have the right to use that music except for personal or home use. You can, however, include copyrighted material if it is incidental or accidental. For example, if you video a couple’s first dance at a wedding and include the wedding music, this will not constitute a breach of copyright law.

Fair Use

The fair use doctrine allows individuals and organizations to use copyrighted material, including videos, in certain circumstances such as news reporting or education. A school teacher, therefore, may show a legal copy of a video to a group of pupils as part of a classroom lesson. The video should relate directly to the course that the pupils are studying. Most educational establishments have their own guidelines for using videos.

  • Private and research study purposes.
  • Performance, copies or lending for educational purposes.
  • Criticism and news reporting.
  • Incidental inclusion.
  • Copies and lending by librarians.
  • Format shifting or back up of a work you own for personal use.
  • Caricature, parody or pastiche.
  • Acts for the purposes of royal commissions, statutory enquiries, judicial proceedings and parliamentary purposes.
  • Recording of broadcasts for the purposes of listening to or viewing at a more convenient time, this is known as time shifting.
  • Producing a back up copy for personal use of a computer program.

Public Performance

Copyright law allows individuals to watch videos or DVDs in their own homes in the company of friends and family. The law does not permit public performances without the permission of the copyright owner. Section 101 of the Copyright Act defines a public performance as one for people outside the normal circle of family and friends, or at a venue that is open to the public. If you want to show videos in a public place, you should purchase a license from the copyright owner.

Definition of Audiovisual Works

Section 102 of the Copyright Act protects original audiovisual works of authorship. The Copyright Act defines audiovisual works as consisting of a series of related images that are intended to be shown by use of projectors or electronic equipment. The creator of a video owns the copyright for that video. Anyone who sells, distributes, copies or otherwise reproduces all or part of the video breaches copyright laws.

The law gives the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and typographical arrangement of published editions, rights to control the ways in which their material may be used.

The rights cover; broadcast and public performance, copying, adapting, issuing, renting and lending copies to the public.

In many cases, the creator will also have the right to be identified as the author and to object to distortions of his work.

International conventions give protection in most countries, subject to national laws.

It is an offence to perform any of the following acts without the consent of the owner:

  • Copy the work.
  • Rent, lend or issue copies of the work to the public.
  • Perform, broadcast or show the work in public.
  • Adapt the work.

The author of a work, or a director of a film may also have certain moral rights:

  • The right to be identified as the author.
  • Right to object to derogatory treatment.



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