For independent publishers doing our own publicity, there are so many options to choose from that even making a choice of what activity to devote our valuable time to is difficult. One activity that appeals to many authors in today’s Internet world is making our own video in order to draw readers into the realm of our fictional creation or to convince them of the benefits of reading our nonfiction book. Suddenly thanks to today’s technology taking on the task of filmmaker in order to share the wonders of our new book is is a real possibility. (YouTube, for example, offers a a delivery mechanism for many a neophyte filmmaker.) This new endeavor may be both exciting and overwhelming.
More and more authors are hiring a freelance professional to create a book trailer. Some are creating their own. Whether you are considering creating your own book trailer or having a professional do it for you, there are several issues related to copyright and plagiarism that you should be aware of before you begin. And I cannot emphasize too much the importance of timing here. So often, clients come to me with copyright clearance related questions after they have completed, paid for, and published their project whether it be a book or a book trailer. It is often too late to save the project if the author had not taken certain steps to ensure their work was protected when it was in the production phase.
Some considerations for the book trailer producer are as follows:
1. Be clear on who owns your video if you have a professional or even a friend or acquaintance create it. It is best to have a signed agreement with them conferring upon you all rights to the work, clearly stating that you and your estate own it in perpetuity and that you can alter it or use in any format, media, derivative or promotional projects, etc.
2. If you decide to use material belonging to others, consider the cost for rights and the accessibility of the items. It is often a mistake to depend on an argument of fair use to save the day in a copyright infringement suit. Ownership for any images, embedded video clips, movie stills, music, artwork, and background sounds should be determined and permissions acquired for your specific use.
If you find a movie still or poster or a move clip adds value to your work, it most likely has a great deal of intrinsic value in the eyes of the viewing public as well, and the more value placed on it by society, many times the higher the risk a copyright infringement claim may be levied against you or at least that a take-down notice be issued to you for its illegal use.
Before you move forward with you project determine any fees that will be charged to you. If you can actually obtain permission for such items as movie stills or posters, you may find the fees quite high. If you are on a limited budget as most independent publishers are, you may want to consider using images in the public domain. Check out the Library of Congress and other government sites for appropriate images. Other possible sources for images that may fit within your budget are stock photo sites. There are fees for images taken from the stock photo sites, but these fees are minimal in comparison to what a movie company or celebrity might charge. Also, remember that reading the licenses carefully for limitations on use is important.
Remember too that when your are delivering a book trailer to the public, you are engaging in a commercial activity. The reason for the book trailer is likely to get readers and thus buyers for your book. One of the four factors to be considered in a decision of fair use is the purpose and character of the work. A court most often considers a commercial use as less deserving of a fair use exemption than a non-commercial use.
3. Don’t forget to get model releases for any people in your video and remember that you must get parental permission to use children’s images in your production.
4. If you have any trademarked items like Coca Cola Cans or Barbie Dolls in your video, you may have to get permission from their owners. Check too, for fine artwork such as paintings on the wall in a scene you have shot.
If you feel a book trailer is the right way to promote your book, then go for it. Just remember to consider all copyright and plagiarism issues from you project’s inception. You can produce a great book trailer without risking copyright infringement claims.
For a good discussion of how an author on a limited budget turned her desire to do a book trailer into a reality, managing to protect her work from claims of copyright infringement at the same time go to Belles and Beaus Blogspot.
Copyright © 2011 Integrated Writer Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved. For permission to excerpt content from this blog, contact Joyce Miller via our Contact Us form.
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