Making Instructional Videos – Owe Vendor Money?

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    • #42137

      If I were to produce an instructional, how to video on a particular piece of software is there any legal requirement (such as copyright related?) that I would have to get permission from the company manufacturing that software product first?

      It occurs to me that I would be using screen shots of their product in my video and actually making money (hopefully) based upon their product. I wondered the same thing about books written on Photoshop, for one example. Do you think the book authors had to work with Adobe?


    • #177475

      Well here is what I have been able to find out so far, for this I have relied heavily on the information found at

      First of all, here is the Fair Use law:

      Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use

      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

      The Princeton site then goes on to say:

      But note that the concept of “fair use” provides limited exemption, and does not encompass wholesale copying and distribution of copyrighted work for educational or any other purpose, without permission.

      Copyright law does not specify the exact limitations of fair use. Instead, the law provides four interrelated standards or tests, which must be applied in each case to evaluate, whether the copying or distributing falls within the limited exemption of fair use.

      Here are the four standards:

      1. The purpose and character of the use.
      Duplicating and distributing selected portions of copyrighted materials for specific educational purposes falls within fair use guidelines, particularly if the copies are made spontaneously, for temporary use, and not as part of an anthology.

      2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
      Fair use applies more readily to copying paragraphs from a primary source than to copying a chapter from a textbook. Fair use applies to multimedia materials in a manner similar if not identical to print media.

      3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
      Copying extracts that are short relative to the whole work and distributing copyrighted segments that do not capture the “essence” of the work are generally considered fair use.

      4. The effect of use on the potential market for or value of the work.
      If copying or distributing the work does not reduce sales of the work, then the use may be considered fair. Of the four standards, this is arguably the most important test for fair use.

      So here is my argument, from a non-lawyer,see if this makes any sense:

      An instructional DVD or videotape of software or other physical products IS allowable under Fair Use because:

      1. A special interest instructional video or DVD is meant for the purpose of comment and teaching (granted not in a traditional classroom setting!)

      2. For the purposes of training, only selected portions of the software application or product are being shown not the entire application, it’s “essence” is left intact…meaning I am not distributing the actual software product itself, only describing its use

      3. The effect is not to harm the potential market for the product I am demonstrating in the video, in fact it may very well help sales of that product.

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