Cincinnati, OH asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Ohio

Q: I'm starting a video podcast. Can I use still images from various tv and movies?

When we mention a character, we'd like to be able to show that character without getting sued by Disney. And this podcast will be for profit, if that's relevant.

2 Lawyer Answers
Steve Charles Vondran
Steve Charles Vondran pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA

A: Generally speaking, when it comes to using copyrighted images in a video podcast, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding copyright and fair use. In general, it is illegal to use copyrighted images without permission. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, and one of them is fair use.

Fair use is a legal concept that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission or payment. In order to qualify as fair use, the use of the copyrighted material must meet certain criteria. The criteria are as follows:

1. The purpose and character of the use: Is the use commercial in nature, or is it mainly for nonprofit educational purposes?

2. The nature of the copyrighted work: Is the copyrighted work factual or creative?

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used: Are you using the entire work, or just a small portion of it?

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work: Is the use likely to have an effect on the market for the copyrighted work?

If your use of a copyrighted image in a podcast, on balance, meets these four criteria, then it may qualify as fair use. Using an image for a very short duration (what I call the "minimum necessary" to make your point) then that may qualify as a fair use, but realize, some larger companies are very protective of their IP, so while its best to get permission, if you are within the 4 factors on balance (no one factor is definitive) and commenting on the photo, then you might be good.

This is not legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. All the best, see you at the top! Attorney Steve®

Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp
Fritz-Howard Raymond Clapp pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Beverly Hills, CA

A: Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work such as quotes or still images, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. Such use is not actionable infringement.

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