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DOCUMENTARY TIP #4: The Incredible Fair Use Doctrine

If you've never heard of Fair Use, you are missing one of the most important developments to come down the documentary pike in recent years. We recently had a DOC TALKS webinar with attorney Michael C. Donaldson about this topic. When used properly, the Fair Use Safe Harbor can save you thousands and thousands of dollars when licensing film and music clips.

As Michael says, "Everyone is beginning to understand that a documentary filmmaker has a right to use the cinematic language to tell their stories their way. It is so liberating.  So many people have made films today that they never could have afforded to make as recently as 4 or 5 years ago."

Recently Michael negotiated with Warner Brothers for a documentary filmmaker to use a famous film clip.  Warner Brothers was asking $47,000 to use the clip.  Using the Fair Use doctrine, Michael was able to secure the rights to the clip for $5,000.  In many cases, these clips can be used for FREE!

To watch the webinar on Fair Use, become a member.

If you want to read more about Fair Use, check out these articles recommended by Michael:

The New York Times article

Variety article

To learn more about how to produce a documentary film, check out our 4 hour Documentary How To audio course, "Documentary Producing 101".