When is it OK to reuse video, audio and other content from other Web sites?

Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 15:07

About the SPLC

The Student Press Law Center is an advocate for student free-press rights and provides information, advice and legal assistance at no charge to students and the educators who work with them. Ask questions, get help and learn more about their site SPLC.org, or click the links above or below. Full story

When is it OK to reuse video, audio and other content from other Web sites?
Can I use Facebook pictures?
Can I use a logo (such as the Apple logo) from Google Image Search (GIS)?
The same copyright laws that apply in the print/broadcast world still apply when you go online. With just a few exceptions (like really old photos and literature whose copyrights have lapsed), unless you are the creator or owner of the work you want to use, you must generally obtain explicit — preferably written — permission from the actual creator or current owner before you can use it. This general rule applies to everything published online, including photos and other images (including Facebook pictures), music, videos, articles, etc.
One important exception is a provision in copyright law known as Fair Use. The Fair Use exception allows for the use of limited amounts of copyrighted material for purposes such as news reporting or critiques without obtaining permission. For example, if you publish a review of the latest Britney Spears music video, you should be safe in including a short clip — say 20 seconds or so — to accompany your review. Likewise, if you are doing a news story or review of Apple's newest iPod, you can lawfully use a copy of their corporate logo to illustrate your article.
Fair Use takes some time to fully understand, but thankfully there are some great resources to help guide you. In addition to the SPLC's Student Media Guide to Copyright Law. This video, created by Eric Faden with the Educational Media Foundation, is one of our favorites.

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