Directing Change

Forms and Copyright


When creating a video students should be aware of intellectual property and copyright rules especially if they plan on using elements that someone else has created.

Release forms from each member of the video crew, release of image and voice, location releases, and copyright permissions for each entry should be kept at the school sites. Students are responsible for obtaining the necessary written permissions on all copyrighted work. Paperwork must be kept on file with the designated school advisor.

Signed release forms and applicable copyright forms must be signed online and then uploaded as part of the entry form.


Release Forms: Every student on the submitting team has to sign a release form providing permission for the contest organizers and sponsors to use the video. For students under the age of 18 the form needs to be signed by their parent or a legal guardian.

Image and Voice Release Form: For your submission, you need signed release forms from all people whose faces are recognizable and central to the shot or whose voice is featured in the video. In public settings, people in the background do not need to sign a release. Sign and save here: Release of Image and Voice.

Location Permission: The location contract protects both the property owner and the video production team. Getting permission is also a courtesy that can prevent you from being ejected from a location. If you are shooting on private property of any kind, complete the Location Contract. A location contract is NOT needed if the film is shot on campus.

Copyright requirements

Any elements in your video, including but without limitation to music, audio, stills, video, supers or other audiovisual materials used must be:

  • entirely original, created and performed by the entrant and/or participants; or
  • be in the public domain as creative work not protected by trademark or copyright which can be used freely by anyone; or
  • purchased or released trademarked or released copyrighted elements, such as music, photographs or logos.

To submit proof of release and permission to use copyrighted materials, please include a signed letter or email from the rights holder that clearly indicates the title of the film, the name of the contest, the student name or advisor name and indicates that there is no restriction to how the film containing the music/pictures/film is used.

Signed release forms and applicable copyright forms must be signed online and saved as a PDF.  The PDF forms are uploaded as part of the entry form.

Entries that include copyrighted materials or music without the proper permission and signed release forms will be disqualified.

Pictures and Film Clips: You may use public domain images and film clips in your film if you cite your sources in the credits. You will need written permission from the copyright holder to use all copyrighted materials. Please note: Images found in Google searches or elsewhere on the Internet are also protected by copyright laws, even if it doesn’t show a copyright symbol.

Music: Original music or music that is in the public domain (royalty free) may be used in your film if the source is cited in the credits. This means you can’t just download your favorite song on ITunes or from a CD. You will need written permission from the copyright holder to use all copyrighted materials.

There is a US Copyright Fair Use Policy that allows teachers and students to use copyright protected material in the classroom. Videos submitted to Directing Change DO NOT fall under Fair Use guidelines, since Directing Change nominated videos might be shown on TV, in a public theater, on posted on the Internet. Therefore we require you to obtain permission to use any music, images, or movie clips.

Useful links on this topic:

Music tips

Your best bet for the perfect music for your video is to record your own creation or find a local band that will record an original song for you and grant you permission to use the song. Check out program such as Apple SoundTrack or GarageBand, Adobe Soundbooth, SmartsoundSonicFire Pro or Movie Maestro, or another music composing software program. Other options include using royalty free music, legally obtained from a royalty free music web site, or royalty-free CD collection.

If you’re trying to obtain permission to use copyrighted music at the last minute, don’t assume that you will receive it in time for the deadline. This is a long process. If this is the way you want to go, here are some tips to get you started. We recommend creating an alternate version of your video just in case the permission doesn’t come through.

  1. Identify the song title and the performer(s) who recorded the song.
  2. Using that information, find the Recording Company (Label) that holds the rights to the recording.
    • ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers)
    • BMI is an American performing rights organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music. Click on Search to find your song, by artist or title.
    • EMG Evan M. Greenspan is a company that can obtain permission for you to use music in your video (for a fee!) OR they will tell you how to do it yourself:
  3. Send written permission via email or “snail” mail using the following format: Permission letter sample

Additional contact information for several main music copyright holders:

Universal Music Group (i.e., MCA, Geffen, Mercury, Island)
Director of Licensing
Universal Music Enterprises
2220 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404 | 310.865.0770

Warner Music Group (i.e., Warner Bros., Atlantic, Elektra)
Elliott Peters
VP Business Affairs/New Technology
Warner Music Group
75 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10019 | 212.275.1348

Global Digital Business, Business Affairs
550 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10022

EMI-Capitol Music Group North America (i.e., Capitol, Virgin, Chrysalis)
Alasdair McMullan, Esq.
VP Legal Affairs
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104 | 212.492.5056

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
The contest is part of statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
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