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AMVs and Legality – A non-legal understanding

Anime Music Videos, yes, these are still a thing in 2016 and they’re going strong. You might have seen one or two whilst browsing YouTube, but if you’re unaware of what they are, or just want to see some great ones, join me as I look through some and explain why on earth I’m suddenly interested in them again.

An Anime Music Video is exactly as it sounds: It’s a music video which features an anime video. It’s a simple concept, which sounds like it’s something that is spliced together after a couple of clips and a song played over the top. Job done, right ladies and gentlemen? No, you’d be very wrong indeed as I’m happy to contend to. See, I’m gaining a sudden interest in these videos, as whilst I was at AmeCon, I challenged our good friend Dave to an AMV competition in time for Kitacon 2017. This would be to see who would represent GeekOut South-West in an AMV competition at Kitacon (provided they host one again). If they don’t, then we’ll still submit it for an AMV ball or anything of the sorts and of course, all of you wonderful folk will get to see our finished efforts as well.

We’re going to get a small panel (3 people) to judge our AMVs for us and we’ll announce on here which is the one we’re taking forward, as well as opening up a poll for everyone to decide which is the best one. We said before Kitacon 2017, so we’ll keep you all in the loop as to when we’re going to have them released. With this said though, it’s time for us to learn what needs to be done to create a successful AMV and more importantly, just how hard could it be?


You first of all need to make sure you legally own the music that you’re using… However, this can prove to be incredibly problematic due to how you buy music. When you buy an MP3, you don’t own the rights to the music, you own the file to be personally consumed, not commercially. An AMV is never really commercial: You won’t make money off it, not really… However your video will still be scanned and YouTube will understand “Nyah-hah! This sounds like this, so this must be this and we must block this AMV!” This is certainly a legalese issue which you should look into, but basically most AMVs claim fair use. Now, with that said, unless you can provide something transformative, I.E to make its worth improve to some capacity, then you’re literally clinging to the ideology that things should be fair use.

For instance, an image here on GeekOut that we create ourselves, we would consider that fair use (Though we’ve yet to solidify that with a legal stance on it…) With that in mind, you’d be able to download an image from GeekOut and use it within the realms of fair use and that’s fine! However, most record labels do not consider their works to be fair use. Before you begin working on an AMV, look up the record labels stance on these things, if it exists.



Yes, so the other part of an AMV is an anime and guess what? Fair use affects this too. If you can provide some kind of transformative use for it, then you should be absolutely fine because an entertainment media such as a video is easier to claim fair use on than music. With this said, I’m not offering any legal advice, just like before. This is something that I hope you all take away from this article, that the actual legality of AMVs are rather questionable – But with that said, there’s a reason that they’re great.

So why do it..?


So the legality is questionable and there’s a lot of work behind them. There’s no money in them and there’s basically very little reason to doing one when you really break it down. You certainly won’t be getting a call from any high-end producer at the end asking you to be their animator, so what gives? Why would people make an AMV in the first place and why have they stuck around as long as they have?

The truth of the matter is, it’s about being a fan. It’s something that anime conventions generally accept as a great thing and they will often play. AMVs have provided some of the best laughs I’ve ever had, as well as producing an epic last-night party at AmeCon this year. AMVs are not going to be disappearing from the internet any time soon and it’s time for me to up my game and challenge myself to submit something of major substance to a convention. I’ve already submitted an article. Joel‘s now done a panel. Next year, an AMV submission and who knows? Perhaps a cosplay masquerade one too? As always though, let us know what you think of AMVs in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.


3 responses

  1. Technically speaking they may not be 100% legal (both in terms of audio and visual copyright) but I don’t think they do any harm. If anything they help promote the music and shows. I haven’t watched many AMVs, but the few I have checked out have impressed me with the quality of the editing.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 23, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    • Well there’s the argument of transformative works. If you produce something that’s unique, it doesn’t infinge on copyright. In general anywho. Sadly, AMVs have been taken down, more often by music publishers.

      As for the one I am making? It’s truly transformative! You’ll see ;D

      Liked by 1 person

      August 23, 2016 at 4:10 pm

  2. Pingback: Creating a Mashup | GeekOut South-West

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