Writing Movie Content

Posting Photos and Videos: Permission, Copyright Issues, Infringement, and Liability

By posting movie pictures and movie videos, some believe they will incur liability, that they need permission or that copyright issues from property ownership comes into play. I have gotten a few emails from readers recently about using photos, movie posters, and movie trailers in posts so I decided to write a post on the subject to give my point of view on the subject and what I have learned over the years. Lets get the major point out of the way first: movie studios want you to promote their films through their officially released movie photos, movie posters, stills, movie clips, and movie trailers. That is why they released them, so the public could see them via you and other movie web site owners.

Movie / TV Photos, Stills, and Video Clips

Any photo that the movie studios do not want you to show to the public e.g. leaked photos, stolen photos, photos derived from something leaked or stolen, you will be eventually notified about and asked to take down.

Alexandra Daddario, Bereavement, 2010, Screaming

Alexandra Daddario in Bereavement

This happened to me regarding this post: Emmy Rossum: Shameless Showtime Photos. Showtime tried contacting me through my email address at my website host but that email address was slightly inaccurate so I did not get the emails. On the third warning the email got to me via my website host, HostGator. Showtime had contact them and threatened to take legal action if certain photos were not removed from my movie website. Hostgator then informed me that they would take my website offline if I did not comply. This was a problem for me because that post and its derivative: Emmy Rossum: Shameless Showtime TV Show Clip were bringing in a couple hundred hits a day each from search engines. I did not want to give that up. After a little back and forth I took the photos down. It was not worth having the entire site shut down over. Then I found out that Showtime had gone around the net and taken similar action on other websites. The photo gallery where I had gotten the photos from had also been forced to take them down. Unfortunately for Showtime, they were not thorough enough. The photos are still up in photo galleries, forums, and the video clip they also ordered us to take down is available for download if you know where to look.

Here is a more positive example. I began posting reviews for Spartacus: Blood and Sand when the show began to air. I began getting a bit of decent organic web traffic because of it. The show was becoming more and more popular every week. I decide to post high resolution pictures from the episodes as well. Sure enough those pictures got the attention of fans but also Starz, the company that owned and broadcast Spartacus: Blood and Sand. A representative contacted me and asked me to take the photos down. By this point I had already posted the Season 1 finale photos: Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Kill Them All: High Resolution Photos and they were very popular – no one else had bothered to do what I had. He told me that I did not have permission to take those pictures and then display them. I explained my position to him rationally and logically: I showed him all the links to all of the reviews for Spartacus: Blood and Sand we had posted. We had reviewed almost every TV episode of the series the day after it aired. I showed him all of the promotional materials we had posted for the series. I showed him our dedication to the series and Starz. He backed off, let us keep up the photos, and now I have a contact person that works within Starz. Those pictures still bring in organic search engine hits to this day.

The point of these two parables: 99.9% of the time you are perfectly safe to post whatever images you like, find or that are sent to you. Big Brother will let you know when something is amiss. You are doing the person or company that took or commissioned the photos a favor. You are advertising their product and/or service for them for free. Why would they be mad or upset about that, especially if your website is heavily trafficked? That is more eyes on their product and/or service.

Movie Posters and Movie Trailers

The above paragraphs holds true for movie posters and movie trailers as well. Movie studios want you to embed and show their movie trailers to the world. YouTube alone hosts millions of them as does DailyMotion, Vimeo, and Trailer Addict. Trailer Addict would not even exist if this was not the case. Their bread and butter i.e. their business model are embeddable movie trailers and movie clips. If there is a problem with a movie clip or trailer as was the case above, 99.9% of the time the aggrieved party will contact the holder of the offending material e.g. YouTube, tell them they are violating their copyright and order them to take down the offending material. Very rarely will they contact the person who has embedded the video. What would be the point? They are not the source. The video file is not contained on their server.

Licenses and Permission

Thumbs UpNo. You do not need a license or special permission from a movie studio to post a photo, movie poster, movie still or a movie trailer. No movie website could operate effectively if this was not the case. Keep in mind though what was said about posting movie photos and posters here: Using SEO Optimized images in your Posts for Increased Pageviews and here: 5 Ways to Optimize Images for Increased Pageviews and SEO.

In Conclusion

Post away. Post those movie photos and trailers until you are blue in the face. You are fine, you are OK. You are not liable for some crime. I hope this post was illuminating, helpful, and answered all of your questions. If it did not, let us know in the comments below. You might also want to check this out: On Posting Pictures – Hotlinking with IMG Tags and Copyright Issues. Do not miss when we post other articles of this nature. Subscribe to us and you will be notified immediately.

About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A cinephile who started ProMovieBlogger to educate others on what he had learned through trial and error. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook (http://film-book.com), he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions.

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