Film and Screen Studies: Copyright

Selected resources for Film and Screen studies

Material out of copyright

This information only applies if the images, sound recordings or films you are using are still within the period of copyright protection.

  • Images:  life of the artist/photographer plus 70 years
  • Films: 70 years after the film is released
  • Sound recordings: 70 years after date of first release.
  • There is also separate copyright in television broadcasts: 50 years after the first broadcast. See duration of copyright

Creative commons

Creative commons is a type of licencing that often allows use in research or teaching.

Searching Flickr or google images will bring up many examples of images made available under creative commons licences.

But not all creative commons licences are the same.  There are 6 main licences (with variations such as Australian, US and UK versions) with quite different terms and conditions. These terms must be followed, just like any other licensed material that you use.

All creative commons licences require attribution of the creator (artist or photographer) and a link to the licence terms themselves See 'How to attribute a Creative Commons photo',

Non-commercial use may restrict use of the image on social media where personal postings may be moneterised (by selling advertising or information)

No derivatives means you are not permitted to alter the image eg may restrict ability to crop or change the colour tone

Share alike means you can only use or made the new work available under the same conditions as the creative commons material you want to use eg if you copy a short film that has a creative commons licence non-commercial share-alike, that means your dissemination of anything including that film must also be non-commercial and licensed under creative commons as share-alike.

NOTE: Anyone can take an image and put a creative commons licence on it. Consider whether it is likely that the webmaster or supposed copyright owner actually can make the image available eg ask whether an ordinary user would have the rights to popular film or TV images or cartoons

Other useful licensed for education resources are at Online image resources

Consult the Copyright Adviser for further advice

Using AV in research

You can use audiovisual material in your research under copyright law as long as

  1. You haven’t agreed to terms of use that prevent use in research eg non-commercial use only and the research is actually funded by a commercial partner and
  2. The use falls under a 'Fair Dealing' purpose eg research and study, criticism and review and
  3. The use is fair eg is there harm to the owner in your use? Could you purchase the item instead of copying it?  Or
  4. Your use falls within the explicit licence terms of the audiovisual material or
  5. You get permission to use the material from the copyright owner.
  6. You are not circumventing any technological protection measures in copying eg commercial DVDs are protected by CSS which is supposed to prevent copying, although it is easily bypassed. Using software that copies DVDs may breach these provisions. See FAQs
  7. You haven't removed a digital watermark or other electronic rights management information without permission from the copyright owner.

You can't usually rely on fair dealing for making multiple copies, or making material available to the general public (eg publishing by placing it online). These activities would require permission from the copyright owners (usually the film studio, the TV station or channel, the director or producer or the distributor).

See the databases tab in this guide for information about the library’s licensed audio and audiovisual databases that can be linked to in moodle or from lecture slides. Another source of material is TV broadcasts or legitimate DVDs. These can be copied under 'Fair Dealing' but it is unclear how much can be copied – see note 3 above

Youtube has legitimate channels such as Vevo as well as other content placed there by the rightsholder. This can be played in class or you can Embed a YouTube video in your presentation or moodle site. Ensure the content you are showing is authorised as Youtube includes much potentially infringing material.

Performers rights
There is separate copyright in performances. If you are recording a performance or being recorded as a performer, the performer has the right to refuse being recorded, over the use of the recording and may have ownership rights over sound recordings of live performances. Performers also have the right to be credited as the performer in the recording. See Moral Rights.

More information is at Recording performances.

Please contact the Copyright Adviser if you are unsure of the status of the material.

Using images in research

You can use images in your research under copyright law as long as

  1. You haven’t agreed to terms of use that prevent use in research eg non-commercial use only and the research is actually funded by a commercial partner and
  2. The use falls under a 'Fair Dealing' purpose eg research and study, criticism and review and
  3. The use is fair eg is there harm to the owner in your use? Could you purchase the item instead of copying it?  Or
  4. Your use falls within the explicit licence terms of the image or
  5. You get permission to use the image from the copyright owner.
  6. You haven't removed a digital watermark or other electronic rights management information without permission from the copyright owner.

You can't usually rely on fair dealing for making multiple copies, or making images available to the general public (publishing). These activities would require permission from the copyright owners (usually the photographer, the artist, the publisher or an Image library such as Getty Images).

Consult the Copyright Adviser for further advice and refer to the general information on Fair Dealing and on Using images in your assignments, coursework or research

Using AV in teaching

You can use audiovisual materials in class where

  1. You haven’t agreed to terms of use that prevent use in teaching eg itunes state for personal use only and
  2. It is a TV, cable or radio broadcast that has been copied from the direct broadcast see Using the Part VA-Screenrights Licence or
  3. It is a legitimate copy you have purchased or obtained from the library or downloaded from a legitimate source ie no filesharing sites or
  4. It is on Youtube but put there by the copyright owner eg ABC, National Geographic, not just a fan or other user and
  5. The material from Youtube is streamed in class or embedded (linked to) in moodle rather than being downloaded, unless  specific permission for downloading is given by the copyright owner
  6. You haven't removed a digital watermark or other electronic rights management information without permission from the copyright owner.

You can copy audiovisual material for class where

  1. You haven’t agreed to terms of use that prevent your copying eg some audiovisual databases may require linking to their content only, not copying and
  2. You are not circumventing any technological protection measures in copying eg commercial DVDs are protected by CSS which is supposed to prevent copying, although it is easily bypassed. Using software that copies DVDs may breach these provisions. See FAQs 
  3. Use falls under the Part VA-Screenrights Licence or
  4. Use falls within the licence terms from the copyright owner eg videos online state you can copy for educational purposes or
  5. You get permission from the copyright owner
  6. You haven't removed a digital watermark or other electronic rights management information without permission from the copyright owner.

NOTE: IT is preferable to stream or embed Youtube videos rather than copy because many of them do not allow downloading or copying.

Please contact the Copyright Adviser if you are unsure of the status of the material (whether it is legitimate or not).

All work used should be properly attributed, see Moral Rights.

See the general information on Using audio or audio-visual content for educational purposes

Performers rights
There is separate copyright in performances. If you are recording a performance or being recorded as a performer, the performer has the right to refuse being recorded and has rights over the use of the recording. Performers also have the right to be credited as the performer in the recording. See Moral Rights.

More information is at Recording performances.

Using images in teaching

You can use images in your teaching under copyright law as long as

  1. You haven’t agreed to any terms and conditions preventing this use eg you haven’t clicked on an ‘I agree’ button that you will only use the image for personal use and
  2. You follow the terms of the Part VB CAL Licence meaning a. Access is restricted to students and staff of Monash (through authcate) and b. the Part VB CAL warning notice appears before the image eg first slide of powerpoint or
  3. Teaching is already permitted by the explicit licence terms eg ‘free for education’ or
  4. You have written permission to use the image for teaching eg an email from the copyright owner
  5. You haven't removed a digital watermark or other electronic rights management information without permission from the copyright owner.

NOTE: Some images are online without permission of the copyright owner. If there are no citation details (especially name of photographer) this may show that the image is unauthorised. Any licence terms attached would not necessarily apply.

Permission has to come from the legitimate copyright owner.

All images should be properly attributed. See Moral Rights.

See Using images in course materials or consult the Copyright Adviser for further advice or information.