Book and DVD cover copyright

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  • I would like to copy book cover and dvd cover images from websites to use in publicity, including in the local newspaper. Do I have to request permission from the cover designers, include copyright information, or is it ok just to use the images?
  • Why do you want to use the images? Is it to promote reading, or a book store?
  • People respond to images more readily in publicity materials (a picture is worth a thousand words...). It is to promote reading and free library programs-book discussions and film series.
  • It would depend on where the image is being used as to whether it would be fair use under section 107 or whether you would need to get permission to use.

    For example, if you wish to use copyrighted images (reproductions of cover art or other images) in printed library brochures to promote the library in general, then in my opinion, you would need to obtain prior permission. I don't believe that this falls under fair use, because you would be reproducing in multiple copies, using the entire image, and your purpose might not fall under any of the fair use purposes in section 107. I believe there are companies where you can license cover art for use in your library publications (maybe Syndetics or other?), or there may even be cover art images which are already cleared for such use - maybe through a CC license for noncommercial uses.

    On the other hand, if a newspaper runs a news story about new acquisitions at the library or about a program at the library featuring specific titles, then I think there would be a good argument for fair use if the newspaper includes a cover art image or a photo of a librarian holding a book while reading in storyhour. One of the fair use purposes listed in section 107 is "news reporting," and I believe that the newspaper would have a good argument that its use of the image would fall under news reporting.
  • Another concern might be the use of the covers to promote a film series in the library, even though the screenings are free. The public performance of the film is the problem unless you have prior authorization to screen the films. And if you do have a license to screen the films, those licenses often include terms about advertising. For example, you may be able to promote the fact that you are having a film series, but you cannot say what movies will be shown.
  • Thanks for the thoughtful and helpful replies. And, yes, we do have a license to show movies at the library which does restrict publicizing titles and images outside of the library. However, after speaking with the license grantor, they said using the titles in press releases is fine, just not in paid advertising and no images.

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