Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Trailers, Images, Music, and Copyrights

Before I get to the copyright issues where trailers are concerned, I wanted to give you an update on the book trailer contest.

All winners were to send me the address of a local library (to receive the donation of books) as part of the prize.

Third place winner, Mary Montague Sikes, selected West Point High School in West Point, VA.

First place winner, Alex J Cavanaugh, selected the Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, NC.

For a full description of the contest results, go HERE

And in viewing all of these trailers, something came to mind - online images, music, text, and copyrights.

Actually, I need to give credit to my husband. We were discussing book trailers and how some authors create their own by using online images and music. He made this observation - “I wonder how those people would feel if someone used their writing to promote a product without asking permission?”

When someone does that or copies our work and calls it his own, we writers call that plagiarism. But the copyright law applies to music and images, too. When someone uses (without permission) an image, photo, or musical piece (one he simply ‘found’ on the internet) to advertise, it’s a violation of copyright. We in the art world call it THEFT.

This problem has grown with the internet. Many people post images online. However, this does not give others the right to use those images without permission. After many years of book and speaking promotions, not to mention over twenty years as a professional photographer, I am very conscious of the copyright laws. (Which is why the images I post here on my blog are all from my own stock collection.)

My advice for writers and authors - when considering images and music for your book trailer (or book cover, website, blog header, advertisement, etc.) be smart about it. Get permission! You may have to pay for the image or song piece, too. Sites that claim to offer free images usually don’t, so be prepared to pay a royalty fee. Better to acquire written permission of fair use and pay for the image or music than to risk a lawsuit.

Besides, how would you feel?


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

This is something all artists have to come to terms with--either find copyright free art, use public domain art (that's been around for centuries), or else ask permission. Good point here, Diane.

Karen Walker said...

I am so with you on this one, Diane. We all must educate ourselves about how to do this with integrity.

Talli Roland said...

A great reminder. When I did my trailer, I made sure to use music from a royalty-free site!

Thanks for organising the contest! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks Elizabeth and Karen.

You're welcome, Talli! And wise choice on the royalty-free music!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll be more careful with images on my blog from now on as well. Didn't have to worry about the other stuff though.

Hart Johnson said...

I hadn't thought about this in relation to book trailers, but I would imagine when the goal is to SELL that the issue is pretty darned important to address.

I blogged recently about images on blogs, and I have started trying to post attributions (or better permissions) for my images, but I'm not making any money there, so I think the attitude would be less hostile (I'd be honored to be shared, even if I PREFER to be acknowledged too)--however.... someone using my stuff to specifically promote THEIR STUFF without MY PERMISSION? Yikes.

Southpaw said...

Congrats to the winners and their libraries.

Great write up on copyright. I also like to advise people to beware of “free” clipart. Check out the source. Make sure they are the ones who actually created it. Sadly, many of these sites have been create by people who found what they thought were free and decided to offer if out too. Sometimes they just lift it.

Jai Joshi said...

Great advice here, Diane. I was lucky when creating my book trailer to be able to use an original piece of music that my friend had composed about the book itself. I asked him if I could use it and he was happy to say yes and even help me tons in the actual technical side of making it.

It's always important to get permission to use music or images.


Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks for pointing out copyright issues. That's why I only use my own photographs on my blog. Most of the photos in my trailers are ones I took and have in my archives. My trailer designer purchased use of the rest. I'm thankful for many years of freelance writing and photography that have resulted in a large library of my own photo images!

Thanks again, Diane, for the nice book prizes to benefit libraries!



As far as I know my music on my blog is all up and above board.
I did look into this before I set it up.

I used to belong to a different source but it was closed down to copyright issues, also some people who uses videos on thier blogs I can't play because it's not allowed in the UK.


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This is great advice. Sometimes I'll see a trailer and wonder how the person got permission to use the music. I'm sure not all of them did. We complain about book pirates but we should be careful we're not guilty ourselves.

Karen Lange said...

Great point. Working on student lessons at the moment and just reviewed plagiarism. And yes, I would be upset if someone used my work and called it their own.
Thanks for your thoughts,

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I think everyone should receive credit/payment for their work. Because I don’t want to step on toes or get sued, I haven’t done a trailer and have decided to have it done professionally if and when I actually do one. I do try to find free clipart images for my blog, however. If I’m in doubt about one, I look for another.

Jemi Fraser said...

You're so right! Being careful and being educated is so important! :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the book trailer winners. I try to use my own images on my blogs, but do need to add a better Watermark so other's cannot use them. I like to share, but protection is important too.

Will Burke said...

Legally, I think that you're pretty safe if you aren't making money off of someone else's work, bur ethicly, we're all artists, and we need to remember to honor one another. It's all about the Karma!

Morgan Mandel said...

It's not easy sometimes to find free images and such, but if you rummage around, even the sites that are paying ones have some freebies. When I see the free ones, I grab them for future use.

Morgan Mandel

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hart, yikes is right. Even worse when you find someone selling your work. (Yes, I found a website that steals and sells photos selling one of my images!)

Holly, yes they do!

Jai, now that is wonderful.

Me too, Monti. And you're welcome!

Yvonne, that is interesting.

Susan, Amen!

Jane, that's a good idea.

Lynn, I still need a watermark for mine.

Will, it is about the Karma.

Morgan, the free ones are hard to find.

N. R. Williams said...

I am currently learning how to create a book trailer. I contacted the musician and he gave me permission to use his song. I have joined multiple photo sites and am searching for the images right now. The writing will all be my own.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thought I'd recommen Reno Lovison for book trailers. He did mine for my retail books and I think he understands nonfiction marketing better than many. Find the one he did for me at

TrickiWoo said...

It's so easy to find images and music on the internet that many people don't realize the material is copyrighted and that using it for their own promotional purposes is wrong... and also illegal!

Congrats to those libraries getting your books!!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Carolyn, I know someone who does great trailers as well!

TrickiWoo, I knew you'd understand my DA friend! And I had images stole from DA - they ended up for sale on some Middle-Eastern site.

DL Hammons said...

They never make it easy for us, do they? I want my wife to get into the trailer making business, but there are so many landmines to avoid. :)

Arlee Bird said...

This is good food for thought. Definitely something to remember and be more aware of.

Tossing It Out