Using Copyrighted Material Without Permission
Fair use & breach of copyright
Music or video excerpts
It is commonly believed that it is legal to use very short excerpts of music without the need for copyright permission. This however is a misconception, as under any circumstances, only the copyright owner is legally authorised to copy or reproduce their work. If this is done by anyone else, without the permission of the copyright owner, they will be in breach of copyright law which may lead to court proceedings regardless of how small the excerpt you use is.
Usually, only a small amount of individuals who sample, appropriate or infringe an original sound or film recording are taken to court by the copyright owners. In the cases where this does happen, it is usually because the piece that has infringed the copyright has gained a large amount of financial success and the owner of the original copyright seeks a cut.
It is always advisable to seek permission from the owner of the copyright of the piece you wish to use.
Copyright lasts for the lifetime of the creator and 70 years after their death at which point it is passed on to their estate. Therefore it is likely that most material is covered by copyright and using it without the owner’s permission is against the law.
The only things that have a major exemption are publicly sighted buildings and outdoor sculptures. It is legal to reproduce these two dimensionally, in film or on TV, whether in a non-profit or commercial way, without consent from the owner of the copyright.
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