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Film and Video Institute

The world of non-commercial film and A-V


Most of this information is UK-specific. Laws and customs may be different in other countries.

Copyright and Licensing - introduction | avoiding problems | IAC Licensing

Frequently Asked copyright questions

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1. Are my ideas protected by copyright?
There is virtually no copyright in ideas. This has been challenged in the British Courts but remains broadly true.

2. Is my original footage copyright protected?

Yes unless you have assigned the rights to someone else. If you are working on commission check the contract small print.

3. What about copyright on other material I may use?

Almost any other material you use may well be the copyright property of someone else. This applies to photographs, paintings, statues, record covers, book covers, advertisements, packaging, scripts, music etc. In general no objection is made if such things appear fleetingly in the background of the action but they should not be featured.

4. What is the copyright position in competitions?

Virtually all movie/photographic competitions require you to clear copyright on your entries. This particularly applies to music.

5. What is music copyright all about?
It seems easy and is technically simple, to dub a piece of music from a CD, disc or tape onto your soundtrack. BUT …
  • The composer, lyricist, arranger and their heirs have copyright on music and songs until 70 years after their death.
  • The company which made the recording has rights in its recorded form.
  • The performers, playing or singing, have rights.
  • The public performance of the work requires special permission.
It is worth noting that it is an offence to make a recording of copyright music even if that recording is not played back!

There are stiff penalties for infringing ANY of these rights. Obtaining all of these permissions is possible but normally difficult and expensive.

6. Who can and cannot us the IAC Copyright Clearance Schemes ?
  • All IAC members can obtain the special copyright licences (MCPS, BPI, PPL) for music that they may wish to use in movies or slide tape presentations.
  • IAC Affiliated Clubs can obtain the licences for CLUB productions that are in fact credited to the club.
  • Members of Affiliated Clubs cannot use the club’s licences for their own productions. Conversely, a non affiliated club cannot use the personal licences of one of its members for a club production!

7. What about downloads?

Music downloaded from the web is subject to exactly the same copyright issues as CDs you buy over the counter.

8. Can I put my movies on the web?

If your movie contains anything whose copyright belongs to others, you must have permission from the copyright owner/s. In the UK an agreement between the music trade and YouTube means material used under IAC licences is usually - but not always - permitted on that website.Such videos may not be viewable overseas.

The IAC Copyright Clearance Schemes make it simpler and cheaper for IAC members and other permitted bodies to obtain the necessary clearances.

For details of the IAC Copyright Clearance Schemes: click here.
For further music copyright assistance contact: copyright@theiac.org.uk

Most of this information is UK-specific. Laws and customs may be different in other countries. Any copyright owner can refuse permission without explanation. This can happen, for example, if the managers of an artist think a film brings the artist into disrepute<.