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  1. #1

    Post Fair Use and Fan Video Production

    Hi everyone,

    Just a quick question that I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to, but what the hey: I am a video editing hobbyist, and as such, I cut together entertaining videos for my own amusement. I've had several people tell me that they're really good, and that the world deserves to see them. Subjective aesthetics aside, there's just one problem: They're fan videos . . . meaning I don't own any of the actual video or audio involved. (A popular rock song and a lot of clips from a favorite television show, mashed-up and video-remixed to get across a common theme or idea, or to explore one or more fictional characters through the juxtaposition of the song and the video, in a way that hasn't been done before. At least, that's my usual goal.) I mean, I own what I did to the material (I guess), and what I did was certainly original (though I don't know if it makes people see the original art in a different way, or not, or if it makes a substantive artistic statement; it probably does if you've seen the show[s] in question, but probably not outside of a "fandom" context.)

    So, the question is -- are these fan videos I've carefully crafted doomed to just sit here on my hard-drive forever, with no one out there in the larger, wider world seeing them, unless I specifically send it to them via email (and even then in a terrible-quality, high-compression H.264-encoded file), and even then, always under the cover of darkness, lest the copyright police find me and cut me 'til I bleed money? I suppose buried in there somewhere is the question of artistic merit, and whether my use of the material constitutes "fair use," in that it attempts to use preexisting media in order to make a new aesthetic statement, by recombining preexisting elements into a new composition that is, in and of itself, an original work? Assuming there is, there some way for me to -- legally, that is, or at least within the current legal framework -- showcase these creations of mine online somewhere, in a fashion that is in keeping with current legal thinking on copyright law? I've seen a blue-million of these things (fan videos, that is) on Facebook and YouTube (though most of them lack any aesthetic value whatsoever . . . the haughty, arrogant corollary being that mine don't). Still I find it odd that when I try to upload the content, YouTube kicks it back as being in violation of copyright (ah, acoustic fingerprinting; what would we do without you?). My question is, if all these hundreds (or more likely, thousands) of people are "getting away" with this, the question becomes, how? You'd think that the corporate jackboots (read -- the actual, lawful owners of the content) would've stomped every one of their heads to the copyright curb by this point in time . . . or at the very least, YouTube would've stopped them too. And last but not least is a question that just reeks of potential-guilt, but I'll ask it anyway. Assuming I did get passed the audio-fingerprint Cerberuses (Cerberii?) at YouTube or FB, how serious is the risk of getting sued, and if the material was flagged with a takedown notice, what chance would i have of avoiding getting sued, assuming I complied and did not continue to "infringe." (Could they have crafted a more punitive legal vocabulary for this?) And, can this be avoided by including -- embedded within the video -- direct links that allow the viewer to purchase the original media . . . assuming giant media conglomerates either want or need the advertising of a 37-year-old, unemployed video editor with an extreme nerdy side and a copy of Final Cut Pro. :-)

    Thanks ever so much,
    A.H. in Indiana.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Fair Use and Fan Video Production

    Some copyright holders encourage fan works, some tolerate them, and some object to them. Odds are a fan video posted to a site like YouTube is not going to be hit by anything beyond a take-down notice, but that's up to the copyright holder. What will happen in any given case, we can't tell you.

    If you want to play it safe, contact the copyright (and, if applicable, trademark) holders and determine their policies, as well as whether they'll give you permission to distribute your videos in some manner (and, if so, on what terms).

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