How can I cheaply extract small snippets of movie clips for sharing?
Question by Joseph Videtto /

I have to initially thank MUOTechGuy for helping me learn how to rephrase my questions so that they are not misinterpreted, so thanks MUOTechGuy for the great website as well as your comments that have taught me to rephrase my questions!

So… as the post asks:

What’s the least expensive and easiest way technically that I can legally extract small snippets of movie clips of copyrighted material and share them with friends, family, and students ?

I’m hoping to learn how to do this technically, and also very importantly how to do so without breaking copyright law, without infringing on intellectual property, without ‘ripping anybody off’, and without breaking any other laws or moral principals that would invite justifiable criticism. Tips?

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Answers (9)
  • muotechguy


    It’s still a legal grey area. What you’re talking about is “fair use”, and unfortuntely just sharing with friends doesn’t fall under it. Using a clip for teaching a class might; writing a documentary about TV and using small clip to demonstrate the point might. … but just sharing for the sake of it? No.

    And the point is, you still can’t do it anyway; cable broadcasts and digital TV is encrypted. You can’t just output it and copy a snippet. Everything is DRMed. You would need very expensive hardware decoding equipment.

  • DalSan Mack

    Hello Joe,

    In order to legally copy and use copyrighted video content, one must follow the newer regulations concerning the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Under DMCA, one can copy and use clips if that person is an instructor or media student using clips for teaching; the clips are used for documentary; clips are used for criticism; or the clips are used for non-commercial uses. and

    This being said, I don’t think that even using a disclaimer and citing the original source completely protects you against the DMCA and other copyright laws. Under the fair use act, one can copy dvd content, but under DMCA, one cannot break the copy protection when copying a dvd. This includes downloading content from the internet that has broken the copy protection. I can only suggest that if you use copyrighted content and share the clips, add criticism in a similar fashion as critics would do to what is being shared in order to cover yourself. I cannot guarantee that this would protect you under “fair-use” within DMCA. One other thing to note is that using, downloading, or manufacturing software or devices to break copy protection from dvd’s is illegal in the U.S., making this scenario even more difficult. Doing as others suggest will work, but copyright laws are very confusing as to how to legally do what you would like to do, and even on how instructors and critics are to legally obtain and use video clips.


  • Tech geek

    Use “Hjsplit” software for split movies.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid

      If you’re using HJsplit then you’re splitting the whole file. Joseph here is asking how to cut specific scenes out from the movie.

  • Oron Joffe

    Hi again Joe, you are a mine of curious questions! I assume that “least expensive” refers to the software, rather than to royalties, if not, correct me!
    A really great free tool is Windows Live Movie Maker (called just “Movie Maker” on some systems), which is part of the free “Windows Live” suite. It runs on all versions from Vista upwards (there’s also an older version for XP, which seems to be just as good) and it allows you to do all the basic editing tasks: “top & tail”, add titles, captions and even a range of special effects. It’s fairly easy to master (I learned it in less than 1/2 hr with no previous experience or the manual). When the project is complete, you can save (“render”) the clip either to the hard disc, to DVD or directly to YouTube or one of several other online services. My wife, who is VERY non-technical, uses it regularly to upload clips of her music to Youtube!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid

      I too, would recommend Movie Maker for any quick job. It’s the best for beginner or simple projects (although if you have versions before ‘Live’, it’s capable of more elaborate effects via custom XML scripts you can find on the web).

  • Laga Mahesa

    For old school AVI, virtualdub hands down. For MP4/M4V (same, btw, just different extension for iTunes recordkeeping purposes) just use Quicktime in Pro mode.

  • Indronil Mondal


    open vlc media player
    click view >activate advance controls

    now you will find a extra set of icons under the seek bar in vlc
    well the first one is for recording
    just use it to record the portion of video you want to copy

    and if you want to do it by other ways there are lots of video convertors and editors that you can use

  • Junil Maharjan

    You can use free movie editing softwares like windows movie maker, virtual dub, etc. and there are a few tools that lets you clip scenes from movies like vcd cutter. don’t know if it works now.