Using Movie Clips in Podcasts – Is it legal?

by | Start a Podcast

As a podcaster, you are broadly prohibited from including any copyrighted content in your podcasts, such as movies or audio clips. Even if you just want to make something entertaining for the audience, you must be very careful about the elements you use, especially if you don’t own the copyright.

Buying a film’s copyright, on the other hand, is not for everyone. As a result, we’ll discuss the fair-use law and how we might make use of it to our advantage.

Now, let’s get started and explore how you can avoid copyright issues while using movie clips in your podcasts.

Related: How To Copyright A Podcast

Giving Credit vs. Asking For Permission

Giving credit to the owner of the movie clip is not a legal defense and it can land your podcast in legal trouble. If the premise of plagiarism exists in your content, it will be deemed not only in breach of the law but also to be fined.

The 30-Second Rule Myth

There’s a misconception that you are exempt from copyright issues if you utilize a movie clip in your podcast that is less than 30 seconds long. This is however not a rule. Even if you were to use 10 seconds of an entire movie in your podcast without the owners’ consent, you may be breaking copyright laws and could face legal consequences. We discuss below how you may be able to do share short snippets of a movie safely complying with Fair Use.

Non-profit is Not Exempted by Default

Similarly, a common misconception is that you can use copyrighted content if your podcast is not for commercial purposes. The point to consider here is copyright infringement may happen, regardless of whether you make money from your podcast or not. Again, this is explained below as on its own you may still infringe copyright.

Can I Use Movie Clips in my Podcast that Comply with Fair Use?

movie theatre

When someone utilizes video content, movie clips, or audio clips in their podcasts without the owners’ consent, the fair-use law applies. Fair use is a legal concept that allows content creators to utilize copyrighted works without having to buy the rights or get permission from the owners.

The fair-use rule, however, has several constraints and limitations. Fair use is a complicated set of rules, and it can be difficult to determine which activities are permissible and which are not. And if you break them, you could face legal consequences. Let’s take a look at some of the criteria for using movie clips in your podcasts under the fair-use law.

1. The Intention of Using Movie Clips

Fair-use allows you to use movie clips in your podcast depending on your intentions. If you use it for research, review, criticism, commentary, scholarships, or awareness purposes, then you may be permitted to use movie clips in your podcast. Basically, if your podcast is creating new meanings through movie clips that are not similar to the idea given in the movie, then you can use movie clips under the fair-use rule.

2. The Nature of Copyrighted Content

The fair-use rule also permits you to use movie clips in your podcast to bring authenticity to your content. Instead of using fictitious content, adding references to other movies can give a factual basis to your podcasts. As long as the nature and purpose of using copyrighted work are not similar, you can use it under the fair-use rule.

3. The Amount of Copyrighted Work Used in Your Podcasts

Under the fair-use law, you can utilize short bits of movie clips in your podcasts instead of entire scenes or full movies if the intentions are clear. However, in some cases, the excerpts serve as the central theme of the entire film. So, make sure you’re not infringing their central point by using movie clips in your podcasts.

4. The Potential Impact of Your Podcast on the Audience

The fair-use rule is less likely to be adopted if your podcast is replacing the demand for the movies within your audience or causing harm to the copyright owner’s impact and profit from the movie by using the clips. For example, if you were to share large portions of the movies and spoil the movie, a listener may be far more inclined to skip the movie after hearing your podcast. As a result, the fair-use criteria may not apply in this case.

Related: Start a Podcast People Will Listen To [2023 Guide]

The Final Verdict

So, the legal way to use movie clips in your podcasts is to purchase the film’s copyrights. And this isn’t going to be straightforward. That’s why, for your podcasts, follow the fair-use rule and use movie clips in accordance with its principles, limitations, and restrictions. It can protect you from litigation and copyright infringement if you follow it satisfactorily. 

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