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Legal Basics for Online Video

As video becomes increasingly popular online, it’s more important than ever to understand the legal implications of the content you publish. Make a wrong move and you can end up in court facing a copyright infringement suit with fines for damages up to $150,000. The four most common online video legal cases brought against businesses include:

  1. Copyright
  2. Trademark
  3. Defamation
  4. Right of Publicity

These cases almost always involve people using content that they don’t own – like images, music, logos and video clips. If you only take one lesson away from this article, let it be to only use content you created, own or have a license for! This means you can’t just pull a picture or logo off of Google Images and drop it in your video. There are special circumstances, called “fair use” cases (e.g. mashups and commentaries) where this is okay, but you should make sure to check with a lawyer first.

The potential consequence for violating copyright law with your online video can include a fine from $750 to $150,000 in statutory damages and attorney fees, along with the removal of your video and the possibility of criminal charges. And keep in mind, ignorance of the law probably won’t hold up in court. So do your research and make sure you take the time to understand the legal implications of every video you choose to publish — the future and reputation of your business could depend on it.

Written by Andrew Follett
Andrew is the Founder of Demo Duck, a video production agency. He lives in Chicago, loves startups, and enjoys traveling. You can follow him on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.