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Copyright & Patents/taking videos in public


I don't know if this is the right place, but I couldn't find anything else on the site that seemed more appropriate.
Is it legal to take videos and pictures(possible audio from the video) of animals in pet stores, parks, zoos, aquariums, out in the wild, and use the videos and pictures(and possible audio from videos)on an animal education blog or site online for a fee for membership and/or the education that we deliver from the videos and pictures(and possible audio from videos) that we got from the above mentioned sources, and combine with our own commentary?

ANSWER: Lindsay,
I will try to answer this question the best that I can.  It is a very good question and a difficult one.
Any pictures or movies that you take, you own the copyright.  If you take a picture of me, you own the copyright.  If you take a picture of the President you own the copyright.  That's the easy part of the question.
What you need to be most careful of is infringing the copyrights of others.  
A copyright owner owns the following bundle of rights.
   (1) The right to produce copies or reproductions of the work and to sell those copies (including, typically, electronic copies)
   (2) The right to import or export the work
   (3) The right to create derivative works (works that adapt the original work)
   (4) The right to perform or display the work publicly
   (5) The right to sell or assign these rights to others
   (6) The right to transmit or display by radio or video.
So long as the pictures that you use are yours there is no problem.  You cannot use pictures or video of others and alter such video, as that would be an infringement of their copyright.  In such a case, you would be moving into the areas (1) and (3) above.
I hope that this helps and good luck, Lindsay.
Best regards,
  --Gerald R. Black
    Attorney and Counselor
    30320 Southfield Road, Suite 67A
    Southfield, Michigan 48076
    248.644.1014 phone

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the detailed response. :-)  So if I take the videos myself then I would not be infringing anyone's rights? You mentioned (1) and (3), does that mean videos of others(in my case would be animals, bugs, wildlife, ect) belong to me as long as I take the videos and I have the right to use them? I was concerned with whether it mattered or not if I owned the animals and other wild life I took videos/pictures of.
Thank you

The copyright belongs to the author who creates the work, or in this instance, the person framing the picture and taking and cropping it, unless there is a written agreement where the person taking the picture assigns the copyright to another, or unless the copyright infringes the copyright of another.
The most important copyright, my opinion, is the right to "create derivative works", which is (3) in the list in my previous email.
You cannot take videos (stills or movies) of other video, since that is a derivative work reserved for the original copyright owner.
In a related matter, I once worked for a technical trade publisher, and the publisher did a series of interviews of famous people.  The publisher hired a number of independent editors to conduct the interviews.  The copyright to the interviews did NOT belong to the famous people being interviewed.  The copyright to the interviews did NOT belong to the publisher even though the editors were well paid to conduct the interviews.  The copyright belonged to the editors who formulated the questions and conducted the interviews.
I hope that this clarifies the matter, Lindsay.
Best regards,
 --Gerald R. Black
   Attorney and Counselor
   30320 Southfield Road, Suite 67A
   Southfield, Michigan 48076
   248.644.1014 phone

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Gerald R. Black


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Registered to practice before the U.S. Patent Office Admitted to Practice Law in Michigan, California, and Ohio

Capital University Law School - JD University of Cincinnati - BSME

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