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Yes, You CAN Use Your Work In Your VO Demos

Hey, there!

Sorry, but there was an article over at VoiceOverXtra.com that is completely incorrect, in its entirety.

And I have to make sure that you understand just how wrong it is.

In the article, Jennifer Vaughn 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?

No.

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 Jennifer’s 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 Jennifer 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:

http://www.actinganswers.com/why-did-youtube-take-down-my-acting-demo/

There are no legal precedents for this kind of alarm – in fact, Jennifer should be talking 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:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

The reason you won’t find any examples of this actually happening to talent is that it doesn’t actually happen.

Hope this helps.

David

9 Responses to 6 Steps to a Perfect VO Demo

  1. Kelli August 18, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    I feel really good about my demo. It is a quick and fun process, even for someone like me who gets very self concious. :)

  2. David Britz September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    The demos are great. Superb quality. Why go anywhere else?

  3. David Britz October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to record my Narration VO Demo!! :))

  4. Mike Brang December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Having a well-produced demo is one of the most important things in the VO business. I had a number of demos made from other producers in the past and they all had one thing in common — that manufactured, cookie cutter sound!
    What sets David apart from the rest, besides his affordable price and tremendously fast turn around time, is that all of the clips you record with him sound unique. Each spot sounds like an actual commercial you recorded for a job.
    My agent loved the quality and even asked who produced it to refer his other talent there!

    Thanks again, David for producing such a great, high quality demo for me. You made the process relaxing and enjoyable. I urge anyone reading this unsolicited reply to listen to David’s student demos to hear the difference for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to work with him

  5. Kristy Liles February 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I can not thank you enough. I worked so hard on 15 page IVR project, one day I cryed, look for answers, pull my hear (not really) but I was about until another VO send me this great tool. Thanks!

  6. Frank June 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    David

    When v123 indicates the audition is for a student/ nonprofit are we to assume it is for $0. If so, why does the audition ask for an amount to be entered?

  7. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    David,
    I did get this scam through Voice 123. In our discourse, they offered me the gig and they gave me the name of a legit local place to record and the same runaround with the money. I didn’t send anything, but instead, I called the studio to make sure the booking was for the day we set up, and lo and behold, the people there had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried to call back my “contact person” who was setting this up and there was a fax machine beep on the other end. I immediately contacted Voice 123 and told them what had happened. You know what they say…if it sounds togaed to be true, it probably is. Thanks for the reminder!
    Shirley

  8. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    …too good…not togaed.
    The one time spell check didn’t work!

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