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  1. #1
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    Question Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Dear all,

    First of all I'd like to express my gratitude to the specialists who give some of their valuable time to answer the questions asked here.

    I'm a film director and I'm preparing a short film where we would need to re-enact, with an actor, the live coverage of an American TV channel during a historical event. In the coverage, there was no pre-written speech, just live reactions.

    I am wondering if those live comments are subject to copyright, or if I can use an actor to repeat them. It is my understanding that this is not literature, and therefore not subject to copyright, but I am certainly no lawyer.

    I would be extremely grateful for some help here
    All the best

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    Dear all,

    First of all I'd like to express my gratitude to the specialists who give some of their valuable time to answer the questions asked here.

    I'm a film director and I'm preparing a short film where we would need to re-enact, with an actor, the live coverage of an American TV channel during a historical event. In the coverage, there was no pre-written speech, just live reactions.

    I am wondering if those live comments are subject to copyright, or if I can use an actor to repeat them. It is my understanding that this is not literature, and therefore not subject to copyright, but I am certainly no lawyer.

    I would be extremely grateful for some help here
    All the best
    Every newscast of any type I've ever seen had a copyright notice on it.

    And something doesn't have to be literature to be protected by copyright.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Thanks for your answer, I appreciate it. Does a copyright notice necessarily mean that the live commentary words are copyrighted ? There's so much that is already copyrighted anyway (image and voice of the presenters, footage shown, etc...)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    A notice is unnecessary these days to assert copyright. A spoken word is not itself protected by copyright until it is taken down. Therefore the copyright likely belongs to the entity that recorded it. It's possible fair use applies here. You should run your exact situation past an attorney who specializes in such things.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    Thanks for your answer, I appreciate it. Does a copyright notice necessarily mean that the live commentary words are copyrighted ? There's so much that is already copyrighted anyway (image and voice of the presenters, footage shown, etc...)
    The broadcast in its entirety is protected by copyright. With or without the copyright notice but all newscasts have the notice.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    I am wondering if those live comments are subject to copyright, or if I can use an actor to repeat them. It is my understanding that this is not literature, and therefore not subject to copyright, but I am certainly no lawyer.
    Yes, they would. The copyright applies to the recording of the newscast. It doesn't have to be a script that is written down to be protected by copyright. You really need to meet with an intellectual property lawyer to ensure that you don't violate any copyrights here. Film production companies routinely consult lawyers to clear a whole lot of things related to the making of their movies. Making a movie involves more legal issues than most people realize, and this is just one of them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Thank you all for your answers, that's useful and informative. It's a short film and despite it has the ambition to compete in the international festivals as my previous films did, you can imagine that we are very under-funded and I was hoping I could put all the money into the film itself.

    Very clear about the copyright.

    Out of sheer curiosity - not related to my film - when does something said by someone become subject to copyright ?
    - If he says something in private ?
    - If he says something in the street ? Or in a classroom ?
    - If he records something he says and publish it ?

    Very curious where the limits are.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Things SPOKEN, as I have said, are themselves not copyrighted. They have to be fixed in some tangible form. The classic discussion of this is Martin Luther King's speeches. Now the assertion is that he wrote them out first (which then gets copy rights) and then spoke them. On the other hand, if he just spoke extemporaneously, then the person who fixed his words (i.e., the person who recorded it) would establish the copyright. Of course, the important thing to you in that regard is that no matter who actually did get the copyrights, it wasn't YOU.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    I am wondering if those live comments are subject to copyright
    All the best
    Without any context whatsoever, it's impossible to be certain. How long ago did this "historical event" occur?


    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    It is my understanding that this is not literature, and therefore not subject to copyright
    All the best
    So...your understanding is that copyright only applies to "literature"? That's beyond wrong.

    "Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:

    (1)literary works;
    (2)musical works, including any accompanying words;
    (3)dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
    (4)pantomimes and choreographic works;
    (5)pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
    (6)motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
    (7)sound recordings; and
    (8)architectural works."

    17 U.S.C. section 102(a).

    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    Does a copyright notice necessarily mean that the live commentary words are copyrighted ?
    No, but see above.

    Quote Quoting manoucho
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    Out of sheer curiosity - not related to my film - when does something said by someone become subject to copyright ?
    - If he says something in private ?
    - If he says something in the street ? Or in a classroom ?
    - If he records something he says and publish it ?
    As indicated above, a work must be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" in order to be protected by copyright law. Also, courts have held that the fixation must occur by or at the behest of (or at least with the knowledge/consent of) the speaker. For example, if a comedian does an improv routine before a live audience and an audience member records it without the comedian's permission or knowledge, the recording would not be protected by copyright. In the case of a newscast, all newscasts for at least the last 35-40 years (and, in many cases, long before that) have been recorded concurrently with their transmission and, therefore, are protected by copyright law (although, for recordings made prior to 1/1/1978, certain formalities were required, so it's important to know when the event in question occurred).

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Copyright Live Comment of a Tv Journalist

    I thank you all for your very clear and helpful answers. I learn something everyday!

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