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I want to make dvd copys of a news type story that was aired on tv a few years ago. Is this legal?

Ursa, IL |

The reason I want to do this is because I want to try to get the news networks to re-air the program or at least do a story about it. Is this possible? if not I will have to find another way of going about it.

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Attorney answers 3


This may be a "fair use" of the program, because you are using the recording in order to comment about it to others. It is important, however, that you do not actually re-broadcast it yourself, as opposed to emailing it or sending disks of it to those you want to persuade. This does not mean that you do not risk a "cease and desist" letter for doing what you propose (which again you have not really told us) from the original broadcaster; if they learn about it, they may disagree with my broad guess about whether it is fair use, or they may just want you to stop and are willing to take the chance that you will not be able to afford to resist their demands.

I usually do not repeat this point in specific answers, but please remember in this case that I am not your lawyer and this is not legal advice!


The news itself is public, but the copyright to that particular news broadcast belongs to the broadcaster, and they've no doubt reserved their rights to it and they'd require permission for your intended use.

Your intended use isn't for profit, but to re-focus attention on the issue. But since your copying and distribution violates their copyright, you're much better off contacting this broadcaster (or 60 Minutes or your local appropriate new sources) and explaining why you think the issue deserves attention now.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


The analysis starts with the unassailable fact that copying the news broadcast would be copyright infringement. The only issue is whether you have a defense that would protect you from liability.

The only applicable defense I think could apply is "fair use." You should speak with a copyright attorney about ways to make your reproduction (and cover letter) more "fair" -- perhaps by not copying the entire broadcast, inserting on the screen the copyright notice for the news outlet who aired the program, installing a digital "lock" on your reproduction so the broadcast cannot be re-copied, noting in the cover letter who owns the copyright in the broadcast, etc. etc. etc. Only your own attorney can provide you with advice specific to this situation.

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