My YouTube video is 10 minutes long. There is a one-second scene in a movie that I want to insert into my video to create a funny effect.

Is this copyright infringement?

  • 5
    It depends.....
    – Trish
    Feb 21, 2021 at 12:17
  • 2
    I have seen many many videos - on large channels - with very short clips for reactions. Feb 21, 2021 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


Maybe. It might fall under "fair use", which overrides the general requirement to get permission. The way to find out is to do it, get sued, then try to defend your action by using the fair use defense. If they win in the lawsuit, you can't, if you win, you can.

There are four "factors" that have to be "balanced", plus a fifth. The factors are "the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes", "the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole", "the nature of the copyrighted work" and "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work". The fifth consideration is "transformativeness". W.r.t. purpose of the use, your use would likely be found to be "fair", except for the Youtube monetization problem. The "nature of the copyright work" question is primarily about "artistic works" versus "factual works", so it would depend on what you are taking from. One second might not be substantial, unless that one second is the only reason people pay to watch the copyrighted work. That interacts with the substantiality desideratum: could people get the crucial amusement content of the paid work for free by watching your video?

You can read some case law in the links here, and you basically have to get an attorney to analyze your plans to tell you what your risks are.

  • 1
    You can set youtube videos to be not monetized.
    – Joshua
    Feb 21, 2021 at 17:34
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    One notable point is whether you're reviewing or otherwise expanding on the excerpted material vs. just exploiting it. Feb 21, 2021 at 18:09

Half a second of the Terminator followed by half a second of Terminator exploding = Copyright infringement and it will cost you lots of money.

One second from a movie that nobody recognises = copyright infringement, good chance that you get away with it.

Just mentioning that “fair use” means: Yes, it is copyright infringement, but for some reason I shouldn’t have to pay for it.

  • 16
    Actually "fair use" means it is an exception to copyright, and is therefore not infringement. True, many people try to claim fair use when it does not legally apply. Feb 21, 2021 at 18:46
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    “”Fair use” means: yes it’s copyright infringement” - no it doesn’t. Fair use (US law) and Fair Dealing (U.K. Law) are both genuine exceptions to standard copyright rules. They’re not infringement, although the boundaries of what counts is murky, so it’s often up to a court (or who has the larger bank account) to decide. But the fact it’s abused doesn’t mean it’s made up.
    – Tim
    Feb 21, 2021 at 23:32
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    "[T]he fair use of a copyrighted work ... is not an infringement of copyright." 17 U.S.C. § 107. I don't understand why people just guess at the answers to questions, especially when they clearly have no foundational knowledge on which to base their guesses. Is it like this on other SE pages?
    – bdb484
    Feb 22, 2021 at 2:21

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