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Copyright for Student Filmmakers

This guide provides copyright basics and assists students in properly using copyrighted artistic works.

Getting permission from locations and participants

As well as getting permission to use copyrighted material in a film, you may also need to get formal permission from people who participate in your film. This typically takes the format of a 'release form' which is similar to a contract, in which the participants agree to have their work used and distributed in certain ways. 

Types of things you may need permission for: 

  • Crew and performers (if not fellow students or friends)
  • People in the background of your film
  • Locations (i.e. many public places like malls or parks will require that you apply for permission to film there) 

There are many free resources online you can adapt to make your own documents, or check with your instructor if there are formal departmental documents you can use:  

Pro Tip: A common practice in professional film making is to have participants sign the form, then read it while being recorded and looking at the camera.