By Michael Donaldson, Esq.
This concise background document describes what copyright is and what can be copyrighted, as well as what material is in the public domain and what is fair useable. Michael Donaldson is an attorney in Los Angeles, many of whose clients are leading documentary filmmakers. His book, Clearance and Copyright (Silman-James Press, October 2003), from which much of this information has been drawn, is widely regarded as a basic text for documentary filmmakers. Donaldson also contributed his expertise to the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use.
When is it fair and legal to use other people's copyrighted work to make your own? What's the line...
CourtTV used a small excerpt of the same footage of Reginald Denny
Los Angeles New Service v. KCAL-TV, 1999 & Los Angeles New Service v. Reuters Television...