Statutes on Video Copyrights

by Heather Frances J.D. Google
Your original video creations may be protected by copyright law.

Your original video creations may be protected by copyright law.

James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The entire U.S. copyright law, which includes provisions that protect videos and other types of artistic expression, is contained in Title 17 of United States Code. This federal law describes the details of copyright protection including the types of works that can be protected, how they can be registered and what protections they have from potential violators.

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Categories of Protected Works

Title 17 protects original works of authorship, meaning the work cannot be a copy if the author wants it to qualify for copyright protection. Works can include literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and some intellectual works, whether published or unpublished. Generally, videos qualify for protection under copyright laws.


Copyright protections give the owner of the copyright the ability to control certain aspects of the work's distribution. For videos, the copyright owner is the only person who can reproduce copies of the work, create derivative works based on the original video, distribute or lease copies of the video or play the video publicly. Title 17 describes penalties and enforcement options for those who violate these copyright protections, as well as a few narrow exceptions where these protections do not apply. For example, the doctrine of fair use, described at section 107, allows limited use of copyrighted videos and other material without the copyright owner's permission, particularly when the use is for non-commercial purposes and only a small portion of the video is used. Fair use depends on several factors, so if you are interested in using copyrighted material, you may wish to research this issue further or consult an attorney.