Book-trailers and copyright

From Barbara Braxton

I have permission from the NCU to forward the email below to the list to explain the copyright relating to students making book trailers using JUST the content of the book itself.  As you can see there are differences in how they may be published depending on their purpose.

Please note the rider that anything additional that is added such as music, external images and so forth must be copyright compliant it its own right.

In relation to book trailers which

*         identify the key theme or message of a published story, either a word, a phrase or a sentence,

*         use pictures from the Internet (with the appropriate attribution) to accompany the text (but not the pictures from the book itself),

*         use something like iMovie to make a trailer

*         are uploaded to a website, usually not password-protected,


These do NOT fall under the provisions of copyright.  Even if it did then they would fall under the provisions of fair dealing for criticism or review.




So a textual/graphic interpretation of what the author is saying is OK.




Jessica has suggested that you note her email details  <>  so if you have any questions or concerns regarding your specific book trailer you can contact her directly because the Smartcopying site generally doesn’t yet any information regarding book trailers on the site.  I’ve suggested that this could be the topic of an information sheet in the future.




And don’t forget the next Copyright 4 Educators course coming in July –August.  It’s free, it last seven weeks, it’s excellent and I have more information if you’re interested.


Together, we learn from each other


500 Hats




From: Smith, Jessica []

Sent: Monday, May 27, 2013 12:11 PM


Subject: RE: Advice – book trailers




I understand you aren’t specifically looking for an exception, but the pitfalls and issues re displaying in public will largely depend on whether we can fit this into an educational exception that will allow the students/teachers to create the trailers in the first place without having to seek permission from the rights holder.  So it’s necessary to assess your enquiry from this angle.

Regarding making and/or using the trailers/videos within the school:


–          If the trailers amounts to a review of the books (eg students describing the book, why they like it/don’t like it and why others should read it), then limited use of the book in the course of that review (and only as necessary for the review) is permissible, under an exception in the Copyright Act permitting ‘fair dealing for criticism or review’.  Note this wouldn’t permit excessive / unnecessary use of the book – for example reading the entire work aloud for the video would go beyond what could be considered ‘fair’.

–          If the trailers won’t be a review but are more a marketing exercise (eg the task is to produce an ‘advertisement’ for the book, not a review), then limited use of the book in the course of those videos may still be permissible, under another copyright exception permitting ‘fair dealing for research or study’.  This exception will only apply if the videos are made by the students (not teachers) and again the amounts used should be reasonably limited and not go beyond what’s genuinely needed for the purpose.

Regarding sharing such trailers/videos outside the school (eg on YouTube, an open competition or the school’s website):

–          If the trailers are book reviews (as discussed above), you may share them in public

–          If the trailers are not book reviews (eg are adverts, made as part of the students’ research or study as discussed above), then you can’t share them in public

Hopefully you can see why this is the case – if the trailers are genuine book reviews, posting them on YouTube doesn’t change that fact.  However if the videos were made for research or study, copying them to YouTube is likely a new activity going beyond the personal research or study context that permits the original usage.


Note in the advice above that I’m only considering the students’ use of the book itself.  If the students are adding soundtracks, images and other content into their trailers, then of course all of that content should be material they are permitted to re-use (eg original content, or creative commons content, or public domain content).  Let me know if you wish to discuss this issue further.