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SW 2000 - Exploration in Social and Economic Justice

Copyright Considerations for Images, Video, and Music (from Copyright guide)

Images of all sorts--photographs, prints, paintings, illustrations, diagrams, graphs, maps, film, videos, digital or not--are protected by copyright just as other materials are.
Music that is fixed in a tangible form--sheet music, scores, written notes, any sort of recording, whether analog or digital--is protected by copyright just as other materials are.

If the material you want to use is not in the public domain or available from a licensed resource, conduct a fair use analysis to see if your proposed use would require permission.

NOTE: If you are dealing with photos or video of people, you may also need to consider privacy rights. The University requires written consent from anyone included in an image.

Complicating factors:

  • You may be dealing with layers of copyright. For example, an original illustration may be in the public domain, but the digital reproduction may still be covered by copyright or license. Illustrations in books and articles may be individually copyrighted separately from the book/article. A musical recording involves separate copyrights held by the composer, the performers, and the recording company. 
  • The fair use principles allow for the use of a portion of a work, but the law does not define what is an acceptable portion of an image, piece of music, or film.
    The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia suggest some limits, but note that these guidelines deal with amounts to be used within the time and space limits of mediated instruction. Wider distribution could have more impact on the value of the original, changing the fair use analysis.
    The Guidelines recommend:
    • No more than 5 works by the same artist/photographer or no more than 15 images or 10% from a collective work (whichever is less).
    • No more than 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, in the aggregate of a copyrighted motion media work.
    • No more than 10%, but in no event more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work (or in the aggregate of extracts from an individual work).
  • Copyright protects creative expression, so a work that displays more creativity is more protected than a more factual depiction. A dramatic film is more protected than an instructional film or news broadcast. Dramatic musical works, such as opera or musical theater, are generally more protected than others.
  • The purpose of your use is important. The use of materials integral for teaching, comment, critique, or to illustrate a point would be more favored than a merely decorative or supplementary use.