In today’s fascination with social media and posting videos featuring individuals performing all sorts of things, copyright laws have become a hot topic. For example, log on to YouTube and there are millions of hopeful stars doing their version of their favorite artist’s song. As flattering as this may be, is it a copyright infringement? Do they need to have the artist’s permission to perform this on a public outlet? The people who are performing in these videos surely have no intention of stealing from the artists who songs they are singing. Certainly this venue for posting videos can be a nightmare for those who partake in this activity.
When first coming up with the idea of using someone else’s material in a video, there are several things to keep in mind. How much of the original material do you intend to use? If you are performing the piece exactly as the original you might have a problem. If you are altering it, you may fall under “fair use”. One way to look at “fair use” is to think of it as exceptions to the strict copyright laws. Ask yourself what you intend to get out of using another’s material. If financial gain is the goal, you will have a difficult time proving you fall within “fair use”.
Posting videos of a performer from a concert venue may also be a violation. When an artist sells tickets to an event, it is not unusual to see restrictions on videotaping of the performance. When flash photography was the only way to film these performances it was easy to spot the offenders. With the advancement of cell phones and the quality of the cameras in these cell phones, anyone can pick up the phone and tape away with little or no chance of being caught. When these videos pop up on the internet the performer is losing revenue from those who might not go to a performance now that they can see it for free.
It is wise to research copyright laws and “fair use” laws before posting your video online. Artists have every right to sue an individual that appears to be violating their rights. Policing the millions of internet videos may seem to be like searching for a needle in a haystack, but as we all have witnessed, a video can go viral in the blink of an eye.