Whether you’re a musician, a filmmaker, or any kind of creative, you need to take copyright seriously or it will bite you in the ass.
I know it’s possibly the last thing you want to think about because you’re too focused on finishing your work but trust me, you’re going to regret it if you won’t take this seriously!
If you’re a generally relaxed person who thinks life is all peaches, try to cultivate a more paranoid kind of thinking when it comes to copyright because you could really go to hell for it.
IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH USING OTHER PEOPLE’S WORKS, THINK THIS WAY:
#1. Assume everything is copyrighted
The idea behind copyright is that someone did some creative work, and therefore gets to own it. This of course applies to movies and music, but also all other kinds of creativity: Books, pictures, drawings, viral videos, Reddit posts, and yes, video games. All of these things are protected by copyright, and in order to legally use them, you must ask the copyright holder for permission.
#2. Assume they’ll hunt you down
It’s tempting to just shrug and pray that you won’t get caught. After all, everyone else is doing it, right?
But just using 2 seconds of someone else’s work could get you to court like the case of Metall auf Metall.
And if you’re planning to release or publish anything with any media that you didn’t ask permission for, well…DON’T!
You could be fined a ridiculous amount and you’ll not only lose your career, but your everything!
#3 “Fair Use” can’t save you
Fair use is very strict and narrow in scope. You can’t just write “no copyright intended” or “this video is fair use” in your description, that doesn’t help you at all. Fair use is defined by four factors, which a judge will try to apply to your content if you use something someone else made.
And that’s precisely where the problem is: You need to go to court for that. And even one court says that your videos are fine, the court higher up can completely revert the decision, as happened to Ray William Johnson, once the most-subscribed YouTuber: He had a series where he was commenting on/reacting to viral videos, and even though the first court ruled 18/19 of his videos to be fair use, the jury in the second court deemed 40/40 videos to be not fair use, forcing Johnson to settle.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.