A few things to know before making book teasers/trailers


I’m not a lawyer or qualified to advise anyone on legal matters including those that involve copyright. I’m simply passing along some general information and If you would like to know more, please consult a lawyer to discuss your specific rights.

I’ve been alerted by a few bloggers to an email going around about a photographer demanding compensation from bloggers for posting a teaser using his image. The bloggers were merely posting a teaser they had received from the author–except the author had not acquired the necessary rights to use this image.

It’s a very real consequence many authors and bloggers could face!

The photographer is well within his right to sue, not only the author but anyone who shared the image.

But this goes beyond images–music, video clips, and fonts are also an issue and your rights to use these media may vary greatly  depending on whether you’re using them personally or commercially (anything that promotes a book or business).

In general, you can NOT:

You should not do any of the following without reading or obtaining a license to determine the allowable methods of use:

  1. Use any image pulled from any search engine.
  2. Use any image pulled from Pinterest.
  3. Use copyrighted music for a trailer.
  4. Use lyrics of any copyrighted music in a book.
  5. Use clips from TV or movies in a trailer.
  6. Use images of any celebrities.
  7. Use any font you find for download.
  8. Use any image under a creative common license with an identifiable person.

Fonts, images, video clips and music that are available for personal or commercial use will all come with licenses that will detail how that media may be used. Each of these licenses may have different provisions and it’s up to you to read the terms and use the media in appropriate ways. For example, any free fonts are available free for personal use, but require a license to be used commercially.

Types of media you might use:

I make no guarantees here. For every piece of media it is essential that you read the terms and conditions of use that come with the file.

  • Media licensed under public domain.
  • Media licensed under a creative common license with permission to use the media in a commercial way. Not all creative common licenses are the same! Again, you are responsible for knowing the terms.
  • Media licensed under a standard or extended license through companies like stock photo sites. These also come with certain provisions that you must adhere to.
  • In some occasions you might be able to contact the rights holder or deal directly with a photographer and model to work out terms for using the media in question–but you will want all of this information in writing with your rights explicitly listed.

Models and Celebrities

Celebrities are simply a no go. You cannot turn that image into any kind of teaser or endorsement for your book.

In order to use any image with a model, you must have a model release form! Many creative common images do not come with a model release form, so you would have to obtain that separately if the person is identifiable in the image. If you purchase images from a stock photography site, most require that model releases be included when the photographer uploads the image, but you’ll have to check the details.

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