Legal Question about Copyrights

I’m trying to get some music together to give to this guy who makes commercials.
The guy asked if we had any “reels”, which is music synched to video. I told him we didn’t but we’d get some together. My friend started taking some random videos and putting our music to it, but even though it’s for demo purposes (i.e. no
money made) I’m not sure of the legality of it. I would imagine
that you would need some type of permission to use someone’s video for
whatever reason. I don’t really care about getting sued (ok yes I do, we’re trying to be an actual company) but I don’t want to blow our chances of getting legit business. I would imagine the commercial guy would ask where we got the footage, and if we said, “oh we stole someone’s random footage”, it wouldn’t bode well. I don’t want to commit some industry faux pau, and lose business because we didn’t check things out. Any thoughts?


I don’t know why that posted with the odd formatting, sorry.

If you’re using someone else’s video, you need to pay a fee to use it legally.

It’d be better to create your own footage if you can. Otherwise, you would have to pay.

OTOH, if a single copy is made for a demo, it’s unlikely the copyright holder will think it worthwhile to sue.

There are stock footage suppliers that have video in the public domain. You could search for these.

Yeah that’s what I was thinking. My main concern is costing business by doing something frowned upon in the industry. I could see them going…

Them: This is great, we like this, you did this commercial?
Us: No, we just made a demo
Them: Cool, where did you get the video?
Us: Um, we had it laying around
Them: Interesting, they know you’re using it?
Us: Um, not really

I would imagine this wouldn’t put us in a good light.

Cool, I’ll take a look, thanks.

Not sure what type of video you need for this sort of stuff, but if the actual content of the video doesn’t have to be of any particular topic, you might check out the stuff at

The Prelinger Archive, which is one of their collections, is a huge collection of public domain films, mainly from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are old government propaganda films, public service films, advertisements, educational films, and a whole heap of other stuff. It’s all in the public domain and free to use.

Then there’s Open Source Movies, which is a collection of stuff put on the site by people from all around the world. The subject matter and the quality is quite varied, but there’s some interesting stuff there.

The Feature Films section has a bunch of out-of-copyright full-length and short feature films, everything from Charlie Chaplin shorts to Radar Men from the Moon.

That’s only the three sections i visit most often; there’s more stuff there as well. All this stuff is not only freely available, but the people who run the website actively encourage the use and distribution of these films. Nearly all the films on the site are available for download as good-quality mpeg2 files, allowing easy editing in video editing software, and easy transfer to DVD.