Can I use a newspaper headline in my documentary?

by Clemens
(Bend, Oregon USA)

Question: Can I use several newspaper headlines (scans of headlines) in my documentary about a wolf traveling from NE Oregon to California in my documentary, without infringing on a copyright, or do I have to get approval from all newspapers first?

Answer | Desktop Documentaries

I can't imagine this being a problem, Clemens. Have you heard the saying "better to be safe than sorry"? If you have any doubts at all about this, go ahead and contact one of the newspapers (or any newspaper for that matter) and ask them directly if they have a policy about this.

Please understand that I am not a lawyer, so this is my opinion only and should be considered general advice and guidance.

It's very possible something like this falls under the Fair Use laws.

I actually used numerous newspaper headlines in my documentary and never had any problems whatsoever. Granted, the articles were from the 1940's and 1950's.

So again, just to be safe, call up a newspaper and simply ask your question. See what they say!

Another option is to reach out to the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization.

Good luck!

Anyone else have insights or experience with this issue? Please leave feedback and comments below.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Copyright Questions.

7 Day Documentary Crash Course

Ready To Make Your Dream Documentary?

Sign up for our exclusive 7-day crash course and learn step-by-step how to make a documentary from idea to completed movie! 

Return Home