Legal Notice

What is Copyright? – Use of Copyrighted Material: Legal Utilization of Copyrighted Content or Material



Copyright is an intellectual property license that is held by the original content creator (could be a singer, writer, musician, poet, so forth). Copyright license ensures the originality of the content, and it guarantees that a specific content belongs to an individual or an organization, etc. Copyright prevents other people to use your content for their benefits without your due permission, which may include the publication of your content, broadcasting, filming, etc. Copyrights are not limited to the literary work, rather it encompasses, all kinds of artistic, educational, musical, and other forms of content. Regardless, of imposing any restrictions on the quality of work, copyright covers all the original work, or content created no matter how mediocre or sterling the content is. Copyright protection is for both the published and as well as unpublished content as per modern copyright laws.

Copyright license protects the original content from exploitation or theft. But, it does not impose any restrictions on the idea because the idea might be ubiquitous.

For instance, suppose that a website features an article on the importance of eating healthy. And you have been assigned a task by your professor to write on the same topic.

What should you do now? Is the writing on the same topic also comes under a copyright license? Should you copy the content from that article?

Writing on the same topic or reusing the idea is something that can never be copyrighted, and you can write on a similar topic ensuring the fact, that you must not steal someone’s intellectual property. Copying the content of a copyrighted article is not the solution, and you are restricted as well. However, you should research about the given topic, and produce your content based on the same idea.


The legitimate or lawful way of using any copyrighted material is to use it with the consent of the copyright owner. The use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner might put you in trouble, and the financial benefits gained from that use may be confiscated and given to the copyright owner. The court could also prohibit you from using that material again, and it could also cost you pretty pennies. However, you can always use the content which is covered by the copyright exception.


Many news reporters or news publications around the world use the copyrighted material to report current affairs. In some cases, the use of copyrighted material for reporting purposes becomes very important. For instance, if a reporter observes and witnesses an incident himself, then he/she can easily report that incident in his/her own words. But what if it is not the case and the reporter has to quote the exact piece of the original copyrighted content to make the subject clear. In these kinds of situations, the fair use of copyright material comes into play. The fair use of copyrighted content for news reporting purposes consists of the following requirements.

    1.  The content must be used solely for reporting purposes.
    2. The use of any picture is not allowed.
    3. The use of copyrighted material must be proper and upright.
    4. Acknowledgment of the author or the original creator of the content is mandatory.

The most important thing that you need to make sure of while reporting is the appropriate use of copyrighted material, and it must not decrease the importance or value of the copyrighted content. The inappropriate use of copyrighted material is prohibited and can be troublesome.


Another use of copyrighted material is generally for criticism, review, or quotations purposes. These days, almost every movie, book, song, technological device, you name it, is reviewed and critiqued by hundreds of reviewers and critics around the globe. And sometimes, it becomes necessary to mention a specific dialogue from the movie, an exact statement from the book, or a particular piece of lyrics from the song. In these situations, reviewers and critics have to use copyrighted material. The usage of such copyrighted material is allowed with the following conditions.

    1. The exploitation of copyrighted material is strictly prohibited.
    2. Make sure that the audience or public can easily access the used content.
    3. The content used must reflect fair utilization.
    4. Acknowledgment of the author or the original creator of the content is mandatory.
    5. The content must be used solely for quotation, criticism, or review purpose.

It is mandatory to cite the name of the author or name of the original content creator, rather than mentioning the copyright owner and the use of the content must be fair and legitimate. The criticism towards someone’s work must be constructive and must not be malicious. For instance, if the reporter use content to provide harm, then he/she would be held responsible in the court.


The usage of copyrighted material in filmmaking or video making is quite common, and many film or video makers use third party material for reference purposes or to make a rhetorical impact on the audiences. Many film or video makers around the world make use of third party material such as poetry, paintings, music, or cinematographic shots or clips. The usage of copyrighted material in film or video making is not quite simple, and it also does not come under the copyright exception. If you want to use third party or copyrighted material in your films or videos, then you should not be impatient, because it is a long process and the chances are that many stakeholders might be involved such as director, producer, marketers, or even publishers. Another difference in using copyrighted material in films is that the usage of third party content for such purpose is not free. Accreditation of the author or the original content holder is also mandatory, and their name must be displayed in the opening or ending credits of the film or video.


The duration of copyrights has extensively grown over the past few centuries. The copyright duration generally applies differently to different kinds of content or work. The length of the duration of copyright depends on several factors. It includes the type of work, whether it was of an individual or an organization, and has the work been published or not. In most of the countries, copyrights remain intact or valid within 50 to 70 years of the original creator’s death. It means that the copyrights will become invalid or will not be applicable after 50 to 70 years of the creator’s death. However, it is subject to change by legislation, and countries can change the copyright law as per their need.

Razia Saeed

Razia Saeed is the Founder and CEO of She is one of the renowned, highly experienced, and highly paid attorneys practicing in Hongkong, and Singapore. She also provided startup, business and legal consultations to US, Canadian and European firms and companies. She started in the aim of providing inexpensive legal services with top quality to the clients. She is also the head of our editorial department and his junior councils work as authors under her for creating and publishing content on various blogs.

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