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Thread: Question about copyright

  1. #1

    Default Question about copyright

    (There's no specific sub-forum for just asking general question about movie creation. It's all hardware and software...)

    Anyway... I watched a DVD documentary recently and there were a few clips of "The Last Temptation of Christ" included. At the end of the film, it said that the clips were used "without permission".

    Is this OK to do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Copyright comes up regularly on the forums. The easiest way to remember it is that you have to have permission to use anything created by someone else. There are no exceptions. All sorts of rumours abound, repeated by saloon-bar lawyers but the bottom line is: No permission, no use.

    As to whether the copyright holder can be bothered to take you to court...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
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    That is a very good question and I think you would need a legal expert for a definitive answer - and that would probably be full of if buts and maybes.

    As I understand it breach of copyright is a civil (usually) matter so first off it would be up to the 'owner' to decide what to do and that really would very much depend on the context of the clips use.

    If you used clips from a film in a film you were making 'say' for a commercial piece of fiction and it was a hit I suspect you may be approached by the rights holders.


    I suspect that if the film was a documentary and the clip was used ina journalistic way to illustrate an argument then that old phrase 'in the public interest' may mean you would be ok. I dont think this would mean it was legal - just acceptable by common practice.

    A few years ago a short film was made called 'planet of the arabs'. It won awards at festivals and is everywhere on the net - as far as I know the filmmaker has not been dragged into court.

    I am studying documentary filmmaking and hopefully will learn more about this soon but in the mean time I will research this and it would be interesting to see if anyone else who posts here knows more.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    Last year I "won" a very small amount of money from someone in America who used an article of mine (text and pics, not video) in a magazine - it had previously been published in the UK. I was told about it by someone who read it and wanted more information.

    The TU to which I belong approached the publisher and suggested they pay me, or the TU would take action against them on my behalf. They paid, and we had a week away on the proceeds . . . nice.

    After that experience, if someone "published" anything that I consider my copyright I'd be tempted to see if I could get some legal help on a no-win, no-fee basis. Be interesting to see the outcome.

    I think that The Guru is spot-on here - if the originator of the material, i.e. the copyright holder, fancies having a bash at you, they hold all the cards. By a similar token, someone like me, who makes money from my material, might take the view that if you, the illegal user, has no cash, I wouldn't bother to sue - I'd just slag you off a bit. Be worried if you copy material illegally and someone like me has a credit check done on you!
    Last edited by ChrisG; 01-26-2007 at 05:46 PM. Reason: to add a thought
    I try to make someone happy every day - but it may not be your turn today . . .

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    "I thought..."
    "I assumed..."
    "I'd heard..."

    are three phrases regularly heard in court, usually after the words "Guilty but..."

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