Copyrighted Material

There must be written consent from authors, creators and writers of all material – including quotations from copyrighted works used in the production – authorizing the use of that material. As of this date, copyright protection extends for the life of the artist – or copyright holder – plus 70 years. In the case of copyrights owned by corporations, the protection lasts for 95 years.

We recommend that you avoid using copyrighted material. Getting the appropriate permissions takes a lot of time, costs more than a student film can generally afford and may require legal counsel. Whenever possible, consider using fictitious names, companies, and products to avoid problems.

Film / Music Clips

You must obtain permission from the company that presently owns the film or tape. Keep in mind that the material may have changed ownership since its original release or showing. If you were to get clearances on your own you will probably need to obtain releases from the Writers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild, the American Federation of Musicians as well as any other group that participated in the origination of the clip. Be aware that there is often a charge for these releases. If the clip is from a home movie or other non-commercial production it may also be necessary to get permission from the people who appear in the clip. Clearances of clips involving music can be even more lengthy and complex – as well as more expensive.

Still Photographs

To use a photograph you need the permission of the copyright holder and a release from the person(s) in the photo if not previously granted.


You need the written permission of the owner of a piece of artwork to use that material in your film.

Stock Footage

The solution most often used by professionals is to use stock footage. There are a great many companies (who are all listed in LA411 that provide not only film clips, but photos and artwork that are cleared. They charge for this service and the rates range from $25.00 a second and up. A few of the better known companies are:

Producer’s Library Service, Inc.

stock footage and movie clips

Warren Miller Entertainment

(303) 442-3430

adventure / action sport

The Bridgeman Art Library

(212) 828-1255

fine art images

The Image Bank

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