Does anyone know where I can read up on this or know any facts on it?
I’m hoping to be able to use a shot from City Lights in my upcoming short film, showing a character watching it and then for the one scene filling the screen then cut to her reaction.
Anyone know anything on this?
I remember hearing in high school you could use a certain amount for free like 5 seconds or something … and someone casually mentioned that it might be old enough it doesnt matter?
Any help would be great.
I wrote Warner Bros legal department, but of course I havent heard back yet.
If the film is for educational purposes ( i.e a school project) you can use up to three minutes under the “Fair Use” poilicy. Do not take my post to be the ultimate authority however. I could be wrong in this instance.
Ah that’s what i must of heard
Yeah no, this is something i want to submit to festivals and such, I have a back up scene written out if I can’t get this and I’ll just film both, but I’m trying to figure out the answer of what I need to do if anything and if it will cost anything and how much, etc.
There are NO time factors (5 seconds, 3 minutes, or otherwise) involved in copyright infringement cases. This is an urban myth or legend.
The Fair Use Doctrine of the Copyright Act is NOT applicable for any and all “educational” purposes. A “school project” does not allow you to break the law. For instance, you cannot use even one bar of your favorite copyrighted song in your student film without permission (which often involves paying a licensing fee). On the other hand, film professors can usually show clips in a classroom setting, assuming that there is not a special admission charge for the screening.
As a practical matter, most studios and copyright holders will probably not answer your letters requesting use of their material, assuming that they even have the rights to the film.
There is something called “festival rights,” which are often free or at reduced cost. But they must be cleared with the copyright holder.
BTW, I’m not an attorney but I play one on theauteurs.com.
Does it have to be City Lights playing, is it essential to the film? If not you could always have fun and make your own silent “film within a film”. I’m guessing The Tramp is important, though. Figured I’d throw it out there anyway.
…yes, Emilh, or some other similar film in public domain would be an option.
I prefer City Lights, yes. It’s the closing scene and it plays off the character’s feelings at the moment. I tried looking at some public domain Chaplin films, but nothing had that same power.
I am pretty sure that the original version of “The Kid” without the music is in public domain.
I’ll look into the Kid, the only public domain films I found were a few shorts.
Music wont be that big of a deal, i can get around that.
The Great Dictator
The Gold Rush
are all public domain, from one source so far. Trying to find more.
Broken Blossoms is in the public domain. From what I’m reading none of Chaplin’s films are, anymore.
hm. ouch. Does anyone know the proper way of going about getting permission/rights?
I emailed Warner Bros Home Video Legal department asking, but that was a few weeks with no response (as they put out the last US DVDs of chaplin’s films)
I went through some of this for my own short regarding the use of film segments and music. I ultimately wound up using stuff available on archive.org (I believe thats the URL) and a band that I wound up having connections to. If you search, you might be able to find some sites that handle all the legal legwork for you – albeit at a price of course. But the advantage is that they have connections to the industry that may simply be unavailable to you.
I did a quick search just now. Perhaps the info on this page will help:
I know what I’m about to say might hurt a little (as it did me when I started doing all this for my film), but if you don’t receive any response from the owner(s) of the copyright, then you might as well take that as a no. With that said, most of the major companies take several weeks to respond.
From my own personal experience, I’ve discovered how you ask and what you specifically ask for is very important when attempting to gain rights. Make it known to them that you want festival rights only for a specific territory (ie: North America only), what your short film is about, how much of the copyrighted work you intend to use (duration as well as which shots/scenes), and how you intend to use that work in the context of your own film. All this is important if you want to be taken seriously.
Hopefully some of this helps you.
Be very careful about archive.org
There are some things on there listed as public domain that really aren’t. Always be sure to do your research, especially if you want to put your work in festivals or sell it.
I need some help whiththis scenario.
Lets say you have something playing in the background and its not really distinctive but distinctive enought that knowing people would pick up on it. For example lets say I have some very short clips of some films blow up to a very large size so you can’t see much detail.
Do I still need to pay rights for those clips?
Berjuan: All the limitations that are mentioned above would probably apply to the situation you describe. It’s THE unauthorized USE of the clips that is illegal, not whether some people can recognize it or not. (There’s also the question of the soundtrack, which you didn’t mention.)
As always, you can request festival rights or use some of the other LEGAL end-arounds noted by others, but generally speaking copyrighted material is, well, copyrighted.
Of course, as I’ve said before, I’m not an attorney but I play one on this Web site.
Rule of thumb is if you have to question it, don’t use it without permission.
Roy Export SAS is the owner of the Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, and all the copyrights, rights, images, documents, writings and archives relating to those films and to Mr Chaplin’s life and work in general.
Thanks NU, that’s a huge help.
Everyone else too, thank you again for your time and comments!
I’ll be very interested to know how this plays out, JP, and if you end up getting the rights.
My immediate reaction is the “kill your babies” and “make your own” scenarios, but I’m interested in knowing more about this issue because there have been some things I’ve wanted to play with lately…
I’ll let you know how it goes for sure. I wrote Roy Export a week ago, still waiting. Was going to give it another week and a half before another email goes out.
The film clip is owned by warner brothers, they own all the copyright, and they also protect all the actors, film-makers , crew etc, who made that clip/film,
its copywrited don’t use it, it will restrict you from screening it, film festivals etc,
get round the problem creativley
Not so much a problem, just wanted to see how I had to go about getting the clip never had to. I have a back up plan ready, but I would rather have the clip :)
I’ve spent quite a lot of time investigating copyright law for creative works and software in the UK but I am not a lawyer and, as such, my response shouldn’t be taken as legal advice
Basically, unless you can get it from a source other than them – ie you haven’t ripped from one of their ‘digitally remastered’ DVDs or anything like such. If you can a get a copy from an orginal master from before 1923 or something, you MIGHT be in a position where you could demonstrate you were on the right side in court.
Unless it has been ostentatiously placed under a Creative Commons licence by the copyright owner, I’d suggest you take care using it.
In the US they have a concept of ‘Fair Use’ which is where it is possible to use a small portion of copyrighted content to explain your point – think of it a bit like quoting a Shakespeare monologue whilst you critique it in an article.
Unfortunately the UK does not have this concept embedded in our copyright law and so you’d be in an even more dicey position than your American friends who might do the same thing.
Will using the clip get you sued?
That’s a question I can’t answered, but think about what you are trying to achieve -
do you have much to lose if you are sued?
If you have pretty much nothing, you won’t lose that much then.
Do you have a lot of money [and effort] to throw at lawyers to prove your innocence?
If you do, I suggest you talk to some nice lawyers, I know a few. :)
Are you going to charge to see the end product at all?
If you are, and things go badly, they will target you ahead of everyone else. They will suggest you are profiting from copyright infringement.
Are you planning to take the end product to festivals?
Most venues and festivals will be VERY touchy about any suggestions and chances are you wont be able to display stuff there
Are you doing internet only distribution?
If you are, you’ll find things somewhat easier than any other form of distribution but you should expect challenges from the big media companies
The recently introduced Digital Economy Bill in the UK makes things more troublesome again. Although ostentatiously introduced to help ‘small’ creative industries, one of the side effects is that if you publish your film on a website online & it contains an uncleared clip like this, the copyright holder can get your website blocked for anyone in the UK.
I really suggest watching this documentary which explains the problems for artists today [specifically focusing on US copyright law but from a Canadian perspective] .
Watch it here in HD: http://nfb.ca/hd/rip_a_remix_manifesto
Hope this helps, :)
Tim Dobson makes the following point above: “In the US they have a concept of ‘Fair Use’ which is where it is possible to use a small portion of copyrighted content to explain your point – think of it a bit like quoting a Shakespeare monologue whilst you critique it in an article.”
Unfortunately, the Fair Use doctrine is NOT the same for media clips as it is for quoting Shakespeare in a scholarly article. Fair Use ONLY applies to educational uses and generally does not apply to fictional films. There is also no passage about “small portions.” The length of the clip is not at issue. Again, an attorney should be consulted if one wants to invoke Fair Use exemptions from the Copyright Law.
BTW, Shakespeare’s writings are all in public domain now, so the analogy is not apt for that reason too.
Two very good points, Frank.
Thanks for clearing those up for me.