If one creates software and chooses to sell it, are they able to control any video footage of the software in use? If so, must they go about that by stating explicitly in the license that users may not take video of the software?

Assuming that you successfully prohibit users from videoing the software, if someone uploaded a video to a platform such as YouTube (say a video of a person using the software), what would the best way to remove it be (you wouldn't necessarily have the person's full name, or contact info)?

  • You're the one that sold it - what license and rights did you give? If you don't know, get a lawyer. – Nij Mar 2 '17 at 23:41
  • @Nij Does it change the answer if the video is of doing an act the license prohibits, such as reverse engineering the software? – Stoud Mar 3 '17 at 1:00
  • It might, but, again: only someone with the actual license in front of them (and familiarity with law around the edges of it) would be able to say either way. – Nij Mar 3 '17 at 1:04
  • What does it mean to be a video of software? A movie that displays the source code? A video that was created using your software? A video of a person using the software? – user6726 Mar 3 '17 at 1:04
  • @user6726 A video of someone using the software. They happen to also be breaking the license. – Stoud Mar 3 '17 at 1:05

17 USC §512(c)(3)(A)(vi) requires that "the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

So yes, if you are alleging infringement of your copyright, you have the right to file a DMCA takedown notice.

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  • This doesn't really answer my question, sorry if I wasn't clear enough. You just say that I need to be the owner, which I am. Do I have the rights to control the media created that shows my software? – Stoud Mar 2 '17 at 23:37
  • A parallel to my example might be an antivirus. Assume I had created an antivirus, and someone uploaded a video on how to bypass the detection of the antivirus. Can I ask they remove the video? It appears with fair-use that answer might be no. – Stoud Mar 2 '17 at 23:42

Usually, software is distributed under license, and people do not acquire "a copy of the software", they acquire a license to use the software. A video of a person using the software (no matter what they are doing with it) is not a violation of copyright, so you can't use DMCA take-down to get the video taken down. If the license terms explicit stated that a person cannot make a video of themselves using the software, then you could have a basis for suing them for their original copying of the software (installing software requires permission, thus compliance with license conditions). However, if there is no condition in the license that forbids a person taking videos of himself using the software (or something to that effect), then you have no control of videos that they might post that are "about" the software. There is, in particular, no assumed control

If the action being recorded is of a person violating a license term (example: "Here's how to thwart copy protection... there, now I have two copies"), the video is useful evidence of the violation, but making such a video is not itself against the law. The notion of "display rights" is connected with public performances of works of art, so for example if you legally buy a movie, you still can't show it in public without permission; you can't legally read a poem to an audience, without permission. Software might be involved in getting a work of art "out there" (mapping it to a display device), but such protection involves publicly displaying the actually-protected original work (the thing that the rights-holder created). For example, a word-processing program might (gratuitously) display a drawing when it is opened, and the drawing could be subject to "public performance" type protections, even though the operation of a word processor would not itself be so protected. Ordinarily, all that you can publicly display about software itself (not a think embedded in the software) is an instance of a person using it, and all that is protected about software is the computer code.

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    Software could certainly contain elements subject to copyright: e.g., text, icons, graphics. Is it not the case that a video that displays copyrighted material infringes those copyrights (absent a fair-use defense)? – feetwet Mar 3 '17 at 1:44
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    Not convinced that the issue is so cut and dry. "A video of a person using the software" could easily be a derivative work or a publication of copyrighted material embedded in the software if it was not fair use. – ohwilleke Mar 4 '17 at 9:36

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