Getting Permission to Use Video Content at Work

Why do we need permission to use video at work?  Long story short, it’s the law.

Eighty-three percent of participants in a recent CCC study say they use video throughout the course of their work. Even though video is popular, it can’t be assumed that all this activity is done with the correct permissions. In fact, the study went on to find 55 percent of employees use video without considering rights.

It’s safe to say most of us conduct ourselves with strong ethical behavior.  Not only do we respect and protect the intellectual property that we create, but also the property of others.  This is one of the reasons why getting permission is critical – inherently, we know it’s the right thing to do.

But that doesn’t mean getting permission is challenge-free.

Getting permission to use video content, movies and TV shows, can be time consuming. It can be expensive. It can be difficult to identify the copyright holders. (How do I contact them?  Why aren’t they calling me back when I’ve called many times? Why are my e-mails going unanswered?)

Once you do make contact, the studio quotes you a fee of thousands of dollars per minute. When you don’t want to eat up your budget with one three-minute scene from The Office in your presentation, what are you to do?

Here are a few common misconceptions and challenges around getting permission to use video at work, and how to overcome them:

“We found it online for free, so we can use it for free.”


Fifty-five percent of people in the workforce believe they can use online videos without requesting rights.

This, of course, is untrue.

Copyright law grants copyright holders exclusive rights to their creations. One of those is the right to publicly perform the work. If you’re showing a video to an audience (outside of home viewing), it doesn’t matter if it’s at an internal training session for a group of employees or at an industry conference – it’s considered public performance.

“I know I need to get permission, but my company’s big.  I don’t know who to ask or I don’t know where to start.”


Seventy percent of workers don’t know how or where to get rights. And it’s not just who to contact externally that’s a problem. Fifty-six percent of workers don’t know who to contact within their own organization regarding how to get rights.

Start by contacting your Legal Counsel. He or she will advise you on your organization’s policy around the use of motion picture content and have their staff help you obtain the necessary permission.

What about YouTube?

Just because you may be able to easily find the movie scene you’re looking for on YouTube does not mean that you can bypass proper permissions to use that scene.  You are still responsible for identifying the film’s producer, and the appropriate contact for permission requests. Your organization likely does not want you to be contributing to someone else’s infringement. It is best to ensure you are using a movie scene from the rightsholder directly, whether it is through the studio, producer’s YouTube channel, or an authorized channel such as, who has already secured the permission to post the video to their own YouTube channel.

“Using one video scene will wipe out my entire budget.”


Trying to track down the rights holder for every video scene you might possibly want to use will be hard work. And once you do, you may be looking at substantial dollars for the use of relatively short scenes.

This is where CCC can help.

CCC’s Motion Picture License, offered in partnership with the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation, grants permission for all your company’s employees to lawfully use movies and TV shows in a wide variety of ways. Whether it’s for internal training, team meetings, or external presentations to a client or a prospect, the Motion Picture License is a cost-effective, one-stop shop to get the rights you need.

Get more insights on gaining proper permissions to use videos at work.

Learn more about CCC’s Motion Picture License.

Author: Liz Bilodeau

Liz Bilodeau is the senior manager of global alliances at Copyright Clearance Center working directly with our partners. Since joining CCC in 2005 she worked in a variety of roles at CCC managing both internal and external clients. She holds an undergraduate degree in management and marketing and has personal interests in publishing, life sciences and copyright.
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