Can We Post Without Copyright Infringement If a Speaker Gave Us Their Work?

by Louis Kroeck Google
A speech is entitled to copyright protection.

A speech is entitled to copyright protection.

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A speech is copyrighted the moment it is written down or recorded with a video camera or audio recording device. Although a speaker may have provided you with a copy of her work, you should still ask for permission before posting or otherwise publishing the work in any venue as it could lead to charges of copyright infringement.

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Protected Works

Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, including speeches, are all protected by copyright law. In order for the speech to be granted copyright protection, it must exist in some tangible medium. This could be a written transcript of the speech or a video or audio recording. In addition to the speech itself, any slides, written material, handouts or visual material used by the presenter may also be protected by copyright. Even if these materials are in your possession, you should not post them anywhere without requesting permission from the speaker.


Copyright holders are granted a variety of rights, including the right to make copies, prepare derivative works, publicly distribute the work, and the right to display and perform the work. Posting a speech or material provided by a speaker could violate their right to publicly distribute or display their work.

Getting Permission

Because posting the work of a speaker could infringe on their copyright, you should obtain permission before posting such information. Oral permission is sufficient, but it's better to have a written consent to fall back upon. Contact the speaker and request permission to post the work. If the speaker agrees, be sure to document that you were given permission by sending a letter to the speaker outlining your conversation. You should only post the work in the manner you've agreed upon. Deviation outside the manner in which you've been given permission may infringe upon the speaker's copyright.

Fair Use

Copyright law allows a legal defense of “fair use” in limited circumstances. For fair use to apply, it must be demonstrated that use of the copyrighted material was non-commercial or educational in nature; that the nature of the copyrighted work was appropriate for fair use; and that only a trivial amount of the work was used and such use did not affect the potential market value of the work. Fair use can be difficult to establish, so it’s prudent to always obtain permission before using any speech or other copyrighted work.