Internet Distribution Question

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  • :rolleyes:

    I work for a company that is producing an ad for a non-profit organization. The organization wants to distribute it on the internet only and no one will be selling it.
    The catch is that we want to use a short audio only excerpt from a Hollywood movie in the form of a wav file.
    Is this legal?
    Hopefully, I'm not being too naive here.

  • Is this legal?
    No one can give you a definitive answer unless you get sued an a judge makes a fair use determination. Fair use is determined by the following four factors: 1. Character of use 2. Nature of work 3. Amount used 4. Effect on market or value I don't have time right now to apply the four factors to your scenario. Perhaps someone else does. I'll post my analysis tomorrow, but that shouldn't keep others from posting their determinations.
  • There's no 100% answer on this. Personally, I think it's kind of risky (sadly from a copyright standpoint, and other reasons).

    For copyright, you would need to look at the four factors of fair use.

    1) Purpose. You're doing it for a non-profit organization. Since it's an ad, though, there's going to be some benefit for the organization, unless it's a public service ad. So it depends on the purpose. Why is the non-profit making this advertisement?
    2)Nature of the work. Presumably creative, so will count against you.
    3) Amount of the work copied. It's a short clip, audio only, so that may not count very much.
    4) Effect on the market. As far as the product goes (the movie), you probably won't affect the market much. (There could be arguments from the movie industry, however, about their licensing market.)

    I'd say this type of use might be fair (depending on the purpose, which would greatly affect the way we look at this situation)- but I probably wouldn't do it. With a Hollywood movie, you're risking a lawsuit. Plus there are other non-copyright laws involved. If the copyright holder doesn't agree with your position, for example, they could say that you are defaming them or misrepresenting them in a harmful manner.

    Anyone else want to chime in?
  • My opinion:

    On the one hand, if it's a very small clip and it's audio only, that seems like a "fair use" situation. On the other hand, it is Hollywood and they can be strict copyright interpreters. (Also, if the clip appears to be an endorsement of the non-profit, that could be an issue for the copyright owner.)

    You could try requesting permission from the Hollywood company. Most studios have offices to write to for permission. If you emphasize the non-profit nature of the ad, the fact that it's audio-only, and that it's only a very short clip, they may give permission (perhaps with an attribution somewhere).

    If you use it without permission and the copyright holder disapproves, you'd most likely be asked to take down the ad, not sued. The risk is up to you.


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