There’s been a lot of great movies produced this year. If you’re thinking about blogging about these movies, you might ask yourself if you can add images. What about a photo of the movie poster? Can you use that?
We’ll explore copyright surrounding blogging and using movie poster images! If you want to understand copyright law and Fair Use, keep reading!
Before we proceed, it’s important to note that I am not a legal professional or authorized to give legal advice. We recommend you seek a licensed legal professional if you need legal counseling.
Does Copyright Law Protect Movie Posters?
Copyright law protects movie posters and other media connected to the movie. Anti-piracy laws forbid reproducing or selling copies of these works, which include posters. Since producers use posters in marketing and promotional material, they are part of the intellectual property of the movie production.
U.S. copyright law provides exclusive rights to the product or intellectual property. Copyright applies loosely to the following products:
- Moving images
Copyright doesn’t protect the use of facts or common knowledge. Common knowledge includes how much something weighs, how tall a building is, or the size and power of objects. Depending on how you present the facts, fictional characters or objects can also fall under these rules.
For example, let’s say you were creating an article about the Death Star. You write about this fictional object’s size, color, and who built it. However, adding images of the Death Star to your article is legally questionable.
Many bloggers leave a disclaimer at the opening of their article stating they do not own the material. This doesn’t absolve them of copyright law and can still result in content removal or other disciplinary actions.
Even images that a huge corporation doesn’t create are still protected by copyright online. Instagram, for example, prevents users from utilizing images that belong to other users. This could be travel photos, food shots, or other unique photos users took and uploaded themselves.
Even if you say, “I don’t own this,” it doesn’t change the fact that you’re using content that isn’t yours. Different media outlets have their ways of handling such violations. The best way to prevent these violations is to ask permission from the owner.
This helps illustrate how personal and corporate photos, like movie posters, are protected under copyright law. Misusing them or using them without permission could be disastrous for you. Below we’ll dive into why these laws exist and how you can use images legally and properly!
Before I forget, you will also want to make sure you read this article about movie posters and Instagram: Can I Use Movie Posters On Instagram? (Avoid These Mistakes).
Why Does Copyright Law Protect Movie Posters?
Movie posters are an important part of the production team’s profits. Since movie producers use posters in marketing and promotional material, they want to keep them as their own. Copyright law protects the owner’s ability to profit from their creation.
Movie producers use movie posters to promote their films. When these images and slogans are wrongfully stolen or hijacked, it can impact their profit margins.
Many empathize with small businesses, but we don’t consider how copyright infringement impacts large corporations. Movie producers and their staff all stand to lose significant profits because of legal infringements.
Piracy is the biggest threat to movie profits. According to statistics from 2022, movies lost between 40 billion to 97 billion because of theft. Most of this loss derives from illegal uploads and downloads of the film.
Movie poster theft contributes to profit loss as well. Since they’re such an important part of movie promotion, misusing these images can impact profit. It can also ruin the movie’s reputation if presented in a venue that tarnishes its image.
This is why copyright protects the use of movie posters and images. It protects the movie’s reputation and prevents piracy.
What Is Fair Use and How Does it Apply to Blogging?
The general definition of Fair Use is the right to use copyrighted material for certain reasons. Fair Use typically protects critiques, news reports, or similar uses. This can apply to movie posters and images depending on the nature of the blog and content.
Fair Use typically applies to the following uses:
- News reports
- literary/film critique
You might want to write about a recent film release as a blogger. Most experts agree that you can use images from the film in your review.
Reviews and critiques are usually permitted under Fair Use laws. It’s generally agreed that you can add pictures, such as movie poster images, to these blog posts.
However, adding these images to general blog posts could be dangerous. These images are copyrighted for a reason, to prevent unauthorized use. Even if you think the image would enhance your blog post, it doesn’t matter.
Such use is explicitly forbidden. There are also many grey areas when applying Fair Use laws. If you’re unsure whether your post qualifies, there are two ways to play it safe.
You might think a lawyer is expensive until you’re on the receiving end of a lawsuit for wrongful use! The first and best way is to contact a legal advisor. They’ll be able to tell you how to proceed when Fair Use laws apply and when copyright laws apply.
The second way is to request permission to use copyright material from the copyright holder. Asking for permission includes identifying the image, contacting the copyright holder, and getting written permission.
Never rely on verbal consent when dealing with copyrighted material. This is heavily contestable and will likely lead to legal trouble.
Are Movie Posters Royalty Free?
Most movie posters under copyright are not royalty free. Royalty-free means the material may be consumed and republished without paying dues for the content. However, if the images are under copyright, you may be obligated to pay royalties for the right to publish them.
Royalties are fees paid to the owner of a product for the right to use it. Two of the best examples are how music industries and book publishers pay their content creators.
Both industries pay the creators money for every sale they get. It’s just a percentage; this way, the publishers or producers make money, and the content creators make money.
Requesting permission to use a copyrighted image may result in your having to pay a royalty fee. Royalties can apply to images like movie posters and other images from the movie. Paying a royalty fee doesn’t always grant you access to use the image however you like.
Pay attention to the stipulations in the contract and ensure you abide by them. Royalties may grant you permission to use the movie poster in a specific blog post but not others.
Can You Use Movie Posters in a Blog As Long As You Credit the Owner?
Generally, you can’t use movie posters in blogs as long as you credit the creator or owner. Crediting the author is a polite and respectful thing to do, but only after you have permission to use it. The only exception to this rule is if the copyright has expired and the owners failed to renew it.
Public Domain means the copyright either expired or otherwise no longer exists. Some images, like movie posters, fall under Public Domain. You can use these images freely in your blog or creative content.
In this situation, you can credit the original creator, but it’s not necessarily required. There are a lot of grey areas when selecting Public Domain images, but there are ways to verify it’s okay.
By looking at it, you can’t tell if an image is copyrighted. The age of the movie is a better way to determine copyright. Movie posters and movie copyrights typically persist for 95 years. This means most movies from the 1920s are in the Public Domain.
If the producers and owners fail to renew the copyright, it also falls into Public Domain. This means some movies created later might be in the Public Domain.
You can check the copyright status by searching the U.S. Copyright Office.
What Images Can You Legally Use on Your Blog?
Certain images are not copyrighted and can be used freely on a blog. Stock images are usually freely available online and can be uploaded without legal repercussions. Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, and other sites have images you can download and use on your site.
The only images you can use legally include the following:
- Your own images
- Public domain images
- Stock images (uncopyrighted)
The safest way to upload images to your website is to take your own photos. However, taking a photo of a movie poster and posting it on your blog could violate copyright law. This is a grey area; you should ask a legal professional before posting this image online.
Stock images are generic, uncopyrighted images on websites. These are not copyrighted and can be used without legal issues. My go-to website for stock images is Envato. They have an unlimited download plan with commercial licenses included. It’s about $220 per year, but they also have monthly plans. check them out: Envato.
Finding and using images from sites like this is the safest way to find images. Unless you can confirm a movie image or poster in the Public Domain, you should stick to stock images!
Bloggers work hard for the content they create. Copyright might be annoying, but it works to protect everyone’s intellectual property.
As a blogger, you can rest assured that your content is protected. If someone else copies your work or steals your images, they can suffer legal repercussions.
We hope this guide helps you navigate copyrighted material! Everyone wants to voice their opinion about what they liked or hated in a movie; just make sure you respect copyright materials!!
By the way, here are two more useful articles that will help you on your journey: