When can I use someone else's images in my resources?

We were lucky enough that a connection of ours landed us a free chat with a big trademark/copyright attorney in Southern California. We talked about these things with him.

We learned that you can use images from films as long as...
  • you create your own derivative work...and/or...
  • you only use as much as you reasonably need to use...and/or...
  • you do not use critical/spoiler portions of the creative work...and/or...
  • you don't compete with their intended market...and/or...
  • you use it in instructive and not decorative ways.
Landmark Copyright Lawsuit Cariou v. Prince is Settled over derivative artworkExample: Someone could create a Powerpoint that includes short video clips from films for the class to discuss the use of lighting or sound editing or character motives or etc.
Example: Someone could use multiple small quotes from the text.
Example: Someone could start with someone else's artwork and transform it drastically enough that it is no longer that work or in competition with that work. [as in the Landmark Copyright Lawsuit Cariou v. Prince]
Example: Someone could use a video clip or quote from a movie or novel in such a way as to not cost the author/filmmakers any money, but in fact possibly earn them revenue.
Example: Someone could use a still shot from a movie to analyze the emotions in the characters in this moment or which part of the plot it is from. [See this slide from our Pixar Short Film plot study. Notice the Movie Moment section we added to analyze the cloudy background. Also, click the image to download this FREE mini-unit in our TeachersPayTeachers store.]
Legal information on the Lanham Trademark Act.Example: Using stillshots from a movie as decorative background images.
Example: Quoting a whole page from a novel in order to analyze two sentences.
Example: Quoting a paragraph from a super important scene from the novel in such a way as to spoil the scene.
Example: Including entire movies or eBooks in a zip file with other resources.
Example: Describing your resources in a way that could lead people to believe that a Trademarked company created it or owns it. [Read the Lanham Act for more info.]
Lawyer Jonathan Pink discusses copyright and intellectual property rights on N.P.R. and how Pinterest users are doing things wrong and right.
LISTEN: to lawyer Jonathan Pink talk copyright

NOTE: There are other considerations. This is not exhaustive. It's a good start, though.
OTHER NOTE: The Broken Copyright image in the header logo is used with permission by StockMonkeys.com.

DISCLAIMER: The accuracy of this legal information is not guaranteed. It is just our understanding based on a conversation we had with someone we believe to be knowledgeable on the subject. We advise you to seek professional help if you are concerned about a specific copyright/trademark issue. :-)

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