Sorry, but there was an article over at VoiceOverXtra.com (love you, John!) that is completely incorrect, in its entirety.
And I have to make sure that you understand just how wrong it is.
In the article, the author warns:
I definitely would not suggest scoping to get copies of your work in order to “promote or advertise” yourself on your demos. For that, you need permission from the copyright holder to use their fully produced concepts and spots.
One thing talent seem to forget is that either the client or the agency owns those copyrights to their spots as a whole. [Use them, and] you’ll receive a distressing phone call or letter in the mail.
Just what kind of phone call, that is “distressing,” should I be concerned about? And from whom? The agency of record? The studio? The copywriter? The advertiser?
None of them.
Do you think that any of the parties involved in the production of Heroes is going to stop me from using clips from that show on my demo reel?
Or anyone who helped produce the Coca-Cola/NASCAR radio commercials or the Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s TV spots I’ve voiced is going to ask/demand/sue me for using them in my commercial VO reel?
I’ve seen several articles like this, scaring actors needlessly. None of this is true.
Taken to its extreme, if you’re an author, you wouldn’t be able to promote your books. Why? Because you don’t own the copyright, the publisher does. If you were a musician signed to a label, by this logic, since you no longer are in control of your copyright (the label usually is), you couldn’t put a clip of your work in a promo package.
And I couldn’t use portions of the quoted article in this one, or use this blog post to promote myself as a fantastic writer.
I’m not sure where this is all coming from (and I don’t believe that the author is a copyright attorney), but using content you’ve helped create passes muster for all four fair use tests and exclusions in Sec 107 of the US Copyright code, tests which are specifically crafted to allow for the use any and all content from any and all work that we do, including for demonstration purposes.
The tests are:
!. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes (in our case, for education and career advancement, not to sell our demos)
2. The nature of the copyrighted work (it is always work we are in, demonstrating our capabilities)
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole (we are using clips, not the entire show/commercial grouping)
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work (we are not replacing an ad buy or a sale of the product or service)
And other services, like YouTube and Vimeo, completely agree. If your demo is automatically taken down because the fingerprinting in the content is detected, a simple email replying that you are using this content as a demo and your voice/likeness is in the content gets it put right back up. Here’s an article you can read on it over at my ActingAnswers.com site:
There are no legal precedents for this kind of alarm – in fact, reporters should be writing to talent about how they CAN and have every right to use their work in their demos, and are encouraged to do so by the copyright law.
Relevant part of the code:
The reason you won’t find any examples of this actually happening to talent is that it doesn’t actually happen.
What have you been told about what you can and can’t use in your demos? Let me know in the comments below.
Hope this helps.