Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary?
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Topic: Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary?

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    Default Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary?

    I am making a doc type of project right now, but I don't want to just show interviews only, as that can be quite boring, especially compared to other docs how it's done. The project is on war and politics in history.

    Some of the things, the person being interviewed is talking about though, are hard to find in original footage. I mean it's not I can just travel around shoot these things or get footage from somewhere by purchase, on my budget.

    So I have used scenes from movies to illustrate the point, such as The Birth of a Nation (1915), The Battle of Algiers (1966), etc, but I feel that it comes off as cheap cause I am putting footage from other movies, in my movie.

    What do you think?

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    Super Moderator   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? mara's Avatar
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    Do the best you can within the limits of your finances. If that means using clips from movies to make your point, then do it.

    Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com

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    Okay, I just feel like I am plagiarizing or something along those lines.


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    Super Moderator   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? mara's Avatar
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    My understanding is that using footage as part of commentary would be considered fair use. But you'd have to check with an attorney to be sure.

    Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com

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    Yeah I read that it's fair use as well, aside from legalities, I was wondering if it would come off as cheap.


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    Junior Member   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? SleepyDogFilms's Avatar
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    Check with the US government archives. I believe that everything filmed by the government is considered public domain and would be source footage vs. a film recreation.


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    Okay thanks, but some of things I want footage for, is not public domain and is actual fictional drama war movies. Plus I am following someone else's documentary script, and he wants certain things in that I would have to go to actual fictional movies for, as these kinds of things would not be filmed otherwise in some cases.


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    Super Moderator   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? mara's Avatar
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    If it's not in the public domain, then you can't use it without permission. If someone else is producing it, it's their responsibility to get it. Otherwise don't use it. I want a lot of things in my movies, but that doesn't mean I can have them.

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    Okay thanks. I'm shooting someone else's script and he wants to use a good amount of footage from sources that are not public domain. I can try to talk him into going public domain. It's just hardly anything good is in the public domain though, and I don't want to have a documentary that is mostly interview footage and that's it.

    How is it that a lot of people have videos on youtube though, and those videos have footage in that is not public domain though, or how do they get away with it?

    Plus you said before that it's okay to use if it's fair use, and now you are saying I shouldn't unless it's public domain, so is fair use not okay now?


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    Super Moderator   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? mara's Avatar
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    Fair use is if your commenting, critiquing, etc. You can't just use things otherwise unless they're in the public domain.

    I do not and will not comment on how and why people get away with things that are immoral and/or illegal.

    Last edited by mara; 07-03-2018 at 05:23 PM.
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    Okay thanks. Basically I don't want to make the documentary too boring just by watching someone talk the whole time, but some of the footage I need is hard to get, and the public domain is extremely limited to what there is. When you say it's fair use is for commenting or critiquing, what do you mean by commenting and critiquing?


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    Super Moderator   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? mara's Avatar
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    Here's a short but useful article on the subject. As you can see, it's complicated, which is why the producer should get legal advice.

    https://copyright.columbia.edu/basics/fair-use.html

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    Okay thank you very much. It says on there that fair use is okay as long as one is not profiting from the movie, it seems. However, there are people who on their youtube channels, show clips from movies that are not public domain and still make money off their videos though. So what are they doing in which that is okay?


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    Senior Member   Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Is good to use footage from other movies, when making a documentary? Walter B's Avatar
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    This questions shows you haven't seen that many documentaries :-p

    Bowling for Columbine is packed with footage from other sources and won an Oscar.

    Whether it 'feels cheap' depends on the execution.
    As always you asked a question where the most solid anwser is: "It depends on context and execution. It has been done successfully before, but it does not automaticly make the used method a success."


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    Okay thanks. I think it will work in my contexts... I think.

    The people I am making it want it on youtube though. However, everytime I upload footage from other movies on youtube in the past, youtube will take it off. So how can we make a documentary type movie and put it on youtube, without them taking it off, if that's possible?


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