What type of content might you have in your video that you’re getting from some one else? In this video interview I did for Web Marketing Today, I explain some very basic legal issues with online video, including rights and permissions that every business needs to be aware of. We cover topics such as “fair use,” stock footage, music used in videos, getting permissions for usage, and when to consult with an attorney.

Dr. Ralph Wilson of Web Marketing Today interviewed me during my speaking engagement at Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference last October. Ralph has a popular website on Web marketing for beginners, along with a video interview series usually featuring event speakers. This was my 3rd time being interviewed by Ralph. You can see his full interview series since 2007-to-present on his YouTube channel.

A Very, Very, VERY Basic Legal Guide to Online Video

Here’s an overview of the points I made in the interview:

1) Get Permissions

There can be a lot of copyrights and right-of-publicity issues involved with any video you produce and publish. They can include:

  • Other people’s own copyrighted footage (e.g., video, audio recordings, or graphics) you wish to insert in your video
  • Talent featured in the video, either paid or non-paid.
  • Locations in your video. If you’re shooting at an event, you may also have to get permissions from the facility holding the event, as well as the event promoters.
  • Usage. How you feature any of these people or things in your video directly relates to the types of permissions you need. Even if you have permission to record something or someone, you may only be allowed to do so for personal use, not for public use. Or, you may be allowed to publish a video for informational purposes, but not for commercial purposes. (I.e., such as implying an endorsement of your business or to sell something.)

2) Understand “Fair Use”

Video publishers and marketers who haven’t received expressed permissions (such as in writing or otherwise recorded) definitely need to understand what is fair use – I.e., when you have protection under the law to copy someone’s copyrighted material. For example, as I covered in my earlier article on the “Fountain Lady,” fair use protections with a video are much stronger when that video is considered “newsworthy,” versus publishing a video primarily for commercial purposes (or even selling that video).

3) Know When To Consult With An Attorney

If you haven’t done so at least once already, talk with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property, Internet law, and entertainment law. (Ideally, one who not only follows the online video space and has consulted with clients on web video campaigns, but participates in web video marketing as well.) If you’re doing a big campaign involving video, consider budgeting for consulting with an attorney to have your project plans reviewed. This way you can be advised on what permissions you may or may not need to get, and what precautions you may need to take, before you start shooting, and then publishing. At the very least, you should have a much better awareness of what the risks are and how to prepare accordingly.

“Web Marketing Today” Video Interview Critique

  • Is this the best camera setup choice? Ralph’s video style for the past few years has been to do a side-by-side interview with his guest. He always seems to appear to drape his arm across the speaker, I guess to imply some sense of closeness or familiarity with the interviewee. Is this effective at getting viewers to feel like they’re part of a personal conversation? Or does it create a little creepy feeling, too?
  • Should you bring your own portable backdrop and lighting? My dark hair and dark suit blend so much in the backdrop (which was a drape separating the speakers from the press in the same room) that I appear to fade in the background. Ralph stands out a lot stronger with me from his his light-color shirt. I also appear to have a big dark shadow under my neck.
  • Does the picture appear blurry? I usually recommend doing a stronger contrast with web video, but here we appear to be washed out. (Ralph brought a pretty decent camera with him, so was this an issue of manual focus?)
  • Can I learn to quit acting like a ham at the end of these video interviews? No. :)

Images courtesy of iStockPhoto: © DNY59 #4478907; © Norebbo #5628424