Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Deja Vu All Over Again: Using Movie Stills in Thesis

Dear Rich: I am a graduate student working in computer vision research. As part of my thesis I would like to explain certain points by making reference to a few movies including: Deja Vu, Batman, Wall-E, and The Italian Job. I'd like to use one or two stills from each movie. My thesis will be published and stored only at the university graduate students library and only one copy will be produced. Do I need permission to publish these movie stills? It sounds like a classic example of fair use -- you're making limited use for purposes of academic commentary. Nobody can guarantee you will win on a fair use defense, but if you look at the four factors, you'll see that they weigh heavily in your favor, especially since there's only one copy of your work. (If you seek to republish on a bigger scale, your publisher will likely require  permission.) PS. The Dear Rich staff supports your work on computer vision research.