Is it permissible to use a clip in an academic presentation that has already been watermarked by its owner?

Does it come under the ambit of 'fair use'?


A watermark is not an indication or proof of copyright; Copyright (Wikipedia) exists at the moment of creation of a video clip, an image, a written work, music, etc.

The owner of copyrighted material may watermark their material for one or more reasons, such as 1) to indicate ownership and to discourage easy copying and usage, 2) to indicate that permission and/or a license is needed to use the material, and 3) to indicate to an audience seeing a watermarked clip that the presenter may not have explicit permission to use it, because the actual owner of the video would ostensibly have provided a non-watermarked copy to the presenter.

Fair Use doesn't have anything to do with that fact that materials may or may not be are watermarked. Fair Use deals with (among other things) the amount of a copyrighted work you can legally use without violating copyright. This is the aspect of Fair Use is what you need to be concerned with. If you use an amount of footage of the video clip that is more than Fair Use, you are in violation of copyright. See Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors - Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center. If you use a small part of the watermarked video that amounts to Fair Use, i.e. an amount that is less than the full clip and could be seen as Fair Use, then you are not in violation of Fair Use.

However, by showing any video or image that is watermarked, even if Fair Use, you are indicating to the audience that you may not have explicit permission from the owner. This could imply to the audience that you have a lack of professional and academic courtesy or could be, in a broader sense, ignorant of copyright laws and academic traditions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.