Audiovisual Works

An audiovisual work (AV work) is a series of related images that are capable of being shown by some device, along with any sounds that accompany the visual portion of the work.  The audiovisual works category includes movies and films, as well as slide shows, video games, and the like.

Clearing copyrights to audiovisual works present the same types of issues that arise when clearing rights to text, art, and photographs:  issues relating to publicity rights and fair use must be considered and the necessary licenses obtained.  It is important to keep in mind that when producing an audiovisual project on behalf of Yale, it will be necessary to secure all the required “work-for-hire” and vendor agreements, providing that Yale owns all rights to various contributions to the work. 

If using preexisting audiovisual content (e.g., a film, television episode, etc.), ideally the owner of the AV work will have already secured the rights to all of the content included in the work so as to be able to license the AV work as a whole.  For example, the owner of the material (e.g., film production company, television production company) is likely to have secured rights in and to any musical soundtrack for the work.  Thus, a separate clearance process would not be required if the audio and visual components are to be used together.  A typical license from the owner of an AV work would include language whereby the owner represents that the owner has all rights necessary to license the content, i.e., the owner has previously secured rights from the actors, directors, costume designers, screenwriters, etc.  In the event the owner of the content is unable to make such a representation, moving forward with the use of that AV work would be prohibitive:  it would be impracticable to approach all of the individual contributors of all of the elements of the AV work for their permission to use their contributions to it.

Summary:  Audiovisual Works – Potential Rights Holders/Required Rights

If you will be producing an original AV work:

  • Secure permission for use of any copyrighted material to which fair use does not apply;
  • Clear publicity or privacy rights if the work includes biographical materials, interviews, lectures or performances;
  • Note that if you commission a vendor to create any part of the AV work, you will need the appropriate “work-for-hire” and vendor agreements.

If you will be using a preexisting AV work:

  • Secure permission from the owner of the work, including a representation that the owner has all the necessary underlying rights to the content.