Using Screenshots and Published Figures in a Video

I’ve previously talked about how to make a video when you have only photographs or when your topic is not very visual. Using still images instead of film footage is sometimes the best option for many scientists who just have photographs to work with or who find shooting video footage too challenging or time consuming. In addition to photographs, a science video may contain figures from a published paper or book or a screenshot (still image of a computer screen) of material on a website. In this post, I offer a few thoughts about using such images in a video.

Screenshots

Some video creators use screenshots to show the viewer how to use an app or how to use an interactive tool on a website. The screenshot approach is less challenging and does not require additional software that would be needed to capture video footage of the computer screen. All you need to know is how to capture a still image of your computer screen. The exact method for screen capture varies with operating system, but usually involves a keyboard shortcut. For example, on a Mac OS, holding down the shift key, command key and 3 will prompt a screenshot of your entire screen (which is saved to the desktop). Shift + Command + 4 will allow you to draw a window to select a portion of your screen.

However, be careful about what you capture with screenshots so that you don’t infringe the copyright of online materials. For example, don’t use screenshots to copy photographs on someone’s website; instead, contact the photographer and ask permission or pay a fee. Some companies have information about use of screenshots from their website or products. Google, for example, allows free use of screenshots of a search results page for instructional or illustrative purposes—as long as nothing is altered:  https://www.google.com/permissions/products/ Unfortunately, not all companies have such clear guidance, in which case, you’ll have to seek permission. See the Stanford University Libraries website on copyright and fair use for more information about websites and copyright. Here is a website with an interactive tool to allow one to determine if material is under copyright or in the public domain (USA only): http://www.librarycopyright.net/resources/digitalslider/index.html. And here is a handy app to determine if your use is fair: https://www.newmediarights.org/fairuse/

Published Figures

Finally, you might want to use a figure from a journal article (your paper or someone else’s) in a video. Since the article is protected by copyright, you will need permission from the publisher (or other copyright holder) to reuse the figure in its published format. Academic publishers often get such requests for reusing figures in review articles and books.

Getting permission for reuse of a key portion of a published journal article may be easy or difficult. Springer Nature, for example, has a user-friendly procedure. All you need do is locate the Rights and Permissions link on the first page of the online article. Clicking it will take you to Springer’s RightsLink site where you can then enter information about what you want to reuse (e.g., the abstract or a figure) and how you plan to use it (e.g., in a conference presentation or on a website). A cost for reuse of the material is calculated, and you then register your request. I’ve previously gotten permission to use several graphs from a Nature article in a conference presentation. The process was quick and easy, and there was no charge for my particular use. All I had to do was include an attribution with each figure in my presentation.

Note that if the figure is from one of your papers, you can always present the data in a different format in your video and not need permission from the publisher. The data are still your intellectual property.

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