Taking Care with Copyrights

book vid lit iconSheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, has been a pioneer
in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers


There’s a rise in lawsuits that should have you questioning what videos you upload to social sites.  Sites like Bolt and Grouper lost the fight of copyright infringement and what were once million dollar companies no longer exist.  And this is only the beginning. Sites like Google and YouTube are fighting Viacom  while Bolt and Grouper  were taken out by Universal Music Group.  The use of copyrighted material without permission has become a key focal point for online social sites. Even MySpace is  is not immune.   For now the lawsuits are focusing on the social network companies, but how much longer will it be before they start to target individuals?  Take heed, it has already started with music. People who are using popular music as part of their video need to be aware that you, the site you upload to and perhaps even your publisher could be held accountable for the copyright infringement. Publishers should be concerned since many authors have the book cover, ISBN and even the publisher’s name on the video. All of these elements lead back to publishers who have much deeper pockets than authors.Even when using royalty free material  you must understand the boundaries of  the use for the material. Normally you are required to pay a one-time use fee or credit the company you took the royalty free material from. A book video is NOT non-commercial. You are using a video to help sell your book. That is, by definition, a commercial use. Recently, we noticed a number of book videos using popular music so we contacted Sony to find out how much it would cost to utilize popular music, even not-so-popular music for an online book video. The cost is very prohibitive!  Yet, we’ve seen book videos with popular music that were produced by companies advertising themselves as “professional” book video creators.  If you paid $250 for your video and it has popular music embedded in it, there’s trouble. And it doesn’t matter if you’re assured that the music is okay to use.  YOU will be the one sued over copyright infringement. You need to insist on seeing the music license if anyone offers to put popular music in your video.That’s not to say that you can’t get popular music. It can be done, for a price.  And some artists have music they will license to you.  However, independent artists still need to give you permission in writing to use their work.  My company, COS Productions is currently working with some name artists on a licensing deal for their music.  This ensures that our clients are protected by a license agreement.

Even if you do license music you need to be aware of the term of the license because they can change according to what you’re using it for and how many people may see the video and hear the music.  Even popular music licensing sites such as Shockwave-Sound have limitations and rules for utilizing their music.  If you’re giving the video with their music on it to more than 5,000 people you need to look at an extended license.  You can always email the folks at Shockwave-Sound to make sure you’ve purchased the correct license. 

Music isn’t the only license you need to worry about. Stock photos or film must be licensed as well. Popular stock photo site iStockPhoto has a lengthy legal document that you need to have read before using their products.  Photos cannot be significantly altered, they can’t be sent to friends for them to use too and you can’t resell something that has one of their pictures on it if you use the standard license. 

It’s fun to make your own video – whether to marketyour book or just as a humorous home video to entertain friends and family.  But be aware of the legalities surrounding uploading video to public sites. And for authors and pubishers creating book videos, be sure you know who is making your video and that they are following the law.  Your ignorance will not stop you from being sued.


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