A Little Help?

I’m thinking of putting my silly talk/slide show on YouTube.  But I don’t want to steal any copyrighted images in the process.  I think I’ve got everything covered except…a picture of Walker Percy.  Can anyone help here?

[UPDATE – Barry Moser gave me permission!  Hooray!]


  1. Oh, man. I didn’t think about the copyrighted issues thing. Because you know we have all sorts of dumb images in our slideshow.

    I kind of think you may be okay here if it’s just a blip in a slideshow.

    Somewhere on YouTube there’s a clever overview of copyright law but I’m not sure I could find it again. I think yours would qualify as Fair Use, maybe?

  2. I’m not sure what you’re getting at, but I enjoyed what you’ve put together. You mean that we couldn’t really see much of the pictures?

  3. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    I’m not going to practice law without a license here (still awaiting Bar Exam results), but will do a little quick research and report back.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      My best guess — BEST GUESS, NOT LEGAL ADVICE!!! — is that Ms Speed is probably right when she says, ‘you may be okay here if it’s just a blip in a slideshow.’ Here’s why:

      Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act codifies ‘fair use’ doctrine. It says in relevant part, ‘[T]he fair use of a copyright work, including such use by reproduction in copies […] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching […], scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.’

      Teaching? Likely. Criticism, comment or scholarship? Probably at least one of those. Research? Maybe.

      Unfortunately, the statute merely provides four ‘factors’ for courts to weigh when determining ‘whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use’, which means the law here is a bit gray and unpredictable by design. But here are the factors, which DO give SOME guidance:

      ‘(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

      ‘(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

      ‘(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

      ‘(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.’

      Factor (1) is heavily in your favor, especially if you can, without breaking the Eighth Commandment, downplay the ‘silliness’ and focus on the fact that this was a presentation at a scholarly conference. Factor (2) is too vague for me to interpret; I’d have to see if any court cases have clarified what’s meant by ‘the nature of the copyrighted work’. Factor (3) is tough to figure when thinking about a still image in a slide-show. It could refer to the cropping of the photo, or to the duration of its display, methinks. Not sure what to say about that. And Factor (4) might weigh in your favor if the photo’s copyright is owned by, say, a publishing house that only uses it to advertise Percy publications, but might weigh against you if the copyright-holder licenses photos as its business.

      All of this is semi-educated guesswork, done without consulting actual cases (since that’s expensive).

      If you’re really concerned about copyright, mightn’t it be in keeping with Percy’s interests to do a little semiotic sleight-of-hand and represent him with something other than a copyrighted picture? Just brainstorming here.

      In any event, I hope you do share some version of your talk.

      And I hope as many other members of the Kollektiv as can bring themselves to do likewise, will do likewise.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on a blog.” Seriously, thanks much.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says


          Great news that you got permission to use the photo. Looking forward to seeing it in context….

  4. notrelatedtoted says

    Dang, Angelico beat me to the punch. The one time, THE ONE TIME, I would actually have something informative to say on the internet.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      A fellow initiate into the Craft, notrelatedtoted?

      • Matthew Lickona says

        Not-Ted wears seersucker suits from May to September and does nothing but sit on his porch by the lake and review the wills of rich old ladies.

        • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

          Nice sinecure if you can get it.

        • My sole ambition for my husband’s career trajectory is that it will someday require the wearing of a seersucker suit.

          There was an older gentleman in our old parish who used to ride his bicycle to Mass every Sunday, wearing his seersucker suit.

  5. Jonathan Webb says

    Just use The Clean Man from A Hard Day’s Night.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      I am almost curious what Richard Lester’s madcap musical comedy version of the Kollektiv’s New Orleans trip would be like.

  6. Quin Finnegan says

    (1) It’s better to apologize than to ask permission.

    • Hey, sorry I didn’t fill up the gas tank after I returned your car, dude.

      • Matthew Lickona says

        Was your copy of the Moviegover a signed first edition?
        Guess I shouldn’t have used it for my notes
        Or at least used a pencil when I wrote
        Well now you can say it’s been annotated
        By an author unpublished – because underrated
        It’s better to apologize than it is to ask permission.

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