Q&A: Copyright rules for performances


From The Republic (Columbus):

Q: We would like to shoot video of a portion (probably a single song) from the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s Christmas concert to use on our website on Christmas Day. The philharmonic has given us permission to do so. However the question of copright has come up.

My understanding is that we are covered as far as copyright concerns because:

• It is a public performance in a public place (a local high school).

• This would be fair use under the news reporting provision.

• Only a fraction of the content will be on our website.

Am I understanding that correctly?

A: You’ve got it correct. If you have permission to take photos or video of the performance, what you take belongs to the newspaper and can be used as it chooses, only limited by any restriction that the newspaper agreed to in negotiating the ability to film the event. (Limited length of performance video, for example, or agreement on ticket or press credentials to not sell any photos, etc.)

It’s not because it is a public place or building but basic copyright principles.

So other than any limiting terms agreed upon when permission was given, you possess the copyright for what was filmed.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.