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What Is a Media Clip?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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A media clip is a short segment of audio or video content that is either intended for release to the media or is made out of some pre-existing media. Clips are generally short, often no more than a minute. When designed for the media — for news stations, for instance, or radio spots — clips are generally promotional in nature, featuring a certain person, discovery, or product. Clips made from the media can also have a promotional purpose. They are common in entertainment, as well, either to as a way of creating new content or as a way to lend sound or footage to original presentations.

By definition, a “clip” is but a small segment of a larger whole. Most of the time, a media clip is a short piece of some sort of audio or visual media. Television shows, films, musical productions, and songs can all be clipped for various purposes.

Most media clips are more for advertising purposes. Movie previews are a familiar example. Film producers make previews by amassing various portions of a movie’s action in order to arouse interest. They release these previews to the media so that they can be broadcast to the public in the form of commercial advertising. Previews and other exclusive clips are usually also posted on the film's website and social media pages.

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Media clips are often also used in public relations. When a company has news to share or an announcement to make, it may create and selectively distribute a media clip in order to entice news coverage. These kinds of clips, whether audio clips or video clips, often feature brief commentary from top officials and quick explanations of newsworthy events. They are usually intended to air on local or national news broadcasts or radio shows or are promoted online.

Similarly, institutions that have been featured on a news show or some kind of televised report often make clips of that coverage to use in their own promotional material. News spots or feature stories are often clipped and used on corporate websites or posted on consumer-facing blogs. Most of the time, these clips include only the portion of the program that referenced the company or its product.

Officials may also issue soundbite media clips in advance of a big announcement or speech. Soundbites are usually brief quotes or catchy descriptions that have been cleared through an official’s press office. These clips serve the dual purpose of drumming up support for an event and giving reporters and journalists some insight into what will be said.

Homemade media clips fall into a different category entirely. In a personal-use setting, a media clip is designed more for entertainment or augmentation than advertising or promotion. Users create media clips when they extract short segments of films, record brief bits of television, or copy pieces of longer songs. Internet technology and sound editing equipment make it relatively easy to create a media clip with little more than a computer.

Users make media clips for a variety of purposes. One might use an audio clip as background music for a home movie, for instance, or as a sound effect for an interactive presentation. Media clips can be amassed from various films in order to create a new original work, often known as a “mash-up.”

Making media clips from content that others own can sometimes implicate copyright laws. In most jurisdictions, content owners have near exclusive rights to distribute and re-record their content. Exceptions for fair use and use in educational settings may apply, depending on the circumstances.

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