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February 2002, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Andrew James Horton <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 22 Feb 2002 21:16:10 -0800
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I'm very surprised that in all this discussion of reproducing stills (and
this could apply to any kind) nobody has mentioned the magic words "Fair
Use". Admittedly, they are not quite as magic as they used to be, and they
are being challenged. But nevertheless they are a legal basis for
reproducing a part of a audiovisual work for the purposes of non-commercial
/ academic study (and also for the purposes of satire -- bizarrely enough,
the hitherto obscure Fair Use clause was successfully employed by the band 2
Live Crew to justify their sampling of a Roy Orbison track in 1994 on one of
their songs).

Fair Use is based on four factors (and I've copied and pasted this from but I'm sure there are more reputable

(1) purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is
commercially motivated or instead is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in the newly created work
in relation to the copyrighted work; and

(4) effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the
copyrighted work.

So, providing that the "quotation" (and I agree with Mike Chopra-Grant's
analogy with print quotation) is intended to promote knowledge, is not
giving away some sort of trade secret, is not a substantial proportion of
the work and does not diminish the value of the work that is "quoted",
scholars should be safe.

Personally, I think film producers who want to stop people reproducing
stills are as anally retentive as those people who want to be asked
permission before you link to their website (can someone please explain this
one to me???). But that's not to say that these people don't exist.

In addition, I should stress that I'm not saying this as a lawyer. I'm
saying this as someone who regular nicks film stills from wherever I can
find them and reprints them on the basis that I'm doing the film more good
than harm by doing so. Nobody's taken me to court yet! (fingers crossed)

As far as I'm concerned, the justified dissemination of academic knowledge
about film and the (current) copyright rules are incompatible. But that's
another story...

Best regards

Andrew James Horton
Editor-in-Chief, Kinoeye,

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