The reproduction of copyrighted materials such as videos, articles, photographs, audio recordings, technical journals, and other materials without the permission of the copyright owner and without paying the appropriate fees, may be unlawful and could be costly to you or a company for which you work.
The Fair Use provision of the copyright law allows the use of copyrighted material for such purposes as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple print copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research. For every other situation you will need to pay the copyright owner or obtain permission to use copyrighted material. What and what does not fall under the Fair Use provision is a complex issue. See Fair Use of Copyrighted Material,. a "Rules of Thumb" for the Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials. This University sit presents a four-factor fair use test to determine if a use of copyrighted material falls within the fair use definition of the copyright law.
See the article at the bottom of this page for a discussion of recent congressional action to extend copyright protection to works about to become a part of the public domain.
Here are three good sources I have found of value related to the use of copyrighted material in media works. Please note that the material you find at these sites is for informational and not legal purposes.
Clearing Rights for Multimedia Works. This presentation address the issues that arise if the creator of a multimedia product decides to utilize pre-existing materials, as this is a very common starting point for many undertakings. The creator will find, however, that acquiring rights in existing works and protecting one's own works involve the same issues.
Intellectual Property Law Primer for Multimedia Developers This web site primer will help you understand the legal issues in developing and distributing multimedia works. It is based on the Multimedia Law Handbook from Ladera Press, which has been endorsed by the Interactive Multimedia Association.
Getting Permission to Publish: Ten Tips for Webmasters. This article not only to web development but the use of copyrighted material in any medium.
Copyright Clearing Center, Inc. for text material Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., the largest licenser of text reproduction rights in the world, was formed in 1978 to facilitate compliance with U.S. copyright law. CCC provides licensing systems for the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted materials in print and electronic formats throughout the world.