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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:01 AM   #46
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And if you search around a bit more, you will find widespread dissatisfaction (to put it mildly) with ASCAP and BMI for paying the big names and ignoring the remaining 90% of their catalog. It is little better than a scam. ASCAP and BMI seem to have much the same reputation in recent times as RIAA. I get the impression that more indy composers are just bypassing the mess altogether.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:48 AM   #47
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Interesting. It makes me feel so much better knowing that BMI/ASCAP are assiduously tracking down the heirs of Bach and Scarlatti and others of that era so they can pay them a royalty based on the number of times a classical guitarist performs their work at our local 10 - 15 table coffee shop.

...
Bach and Scarlatti's works would be out of copyright so not in the picture but you can bet the estates of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, or Johnny Mercer are still regularly getting royalty checks from ASCAP and BMI for current performances/airplay of their music.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 11:31 AM   #48
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I seem to recall reading about lawsuits that put event videographers out of business: in one, someone in the entertainment law field saw a wedding video at a friend's house using a number of pieces of unlicensed music and ratted out the videographer; and in the other, a professionally made birthday video where "Happy Birthday" was used without being cleared. It's my understanding that with respect to showing your stuff at a film festival that you are pretty much under the burden of proving (or at least attesting to it to relieve the festival folks from liability) every video and audio clip is of your own making or that you have the appropriate clearance in writing. The folks who sell library sound effects for royalty free use (after you buy the library) probably try their best to see if anyone's using their trademark effects without a license. It seems like a brutally greedy world in this respect, but when it comes to the almighty dollar, people can get very upset over use of their creative material without permission.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 12:44 PM   #49
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...It seems like a brutally greedy world in this respect, but when it comes to the almighty dollar, people can get very upset over use of their creative material without permission.
I don't know if it's greed that's the motivator. When anyone works hard to create something, and it is hard work to do it well, and then they see someone else using that work to boost their own benefit without offering a taste of the action back to the original creator, I think they are justified in getting a bit miffed. If someone's wedding video is made into a better product than it otherwise might be by virtue of the popular music you have used in it at the couple's request, then the creator of that music deserves a piece of the fee you collected for shooting the gig and making the video. His work contributed to the value of your product.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #50
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And here's another perspective to toss into the mix.

You've written a wonderful song. Heartfelt, beautiful, uplifting. The world falls in love and you make a nice royalty for a few years. But copyright is interpreted in a landmark court case in the future such that you MUST allow anyone who pays the fee to license your work for a small amount. The IDEA behind this fabulous legislation is to "level the playing field" so that all producers, large and small, get a fair chance to use the music they want.

Sounds great, huh?

However, immediately taking advantage of the new law, some ham fisted idiot of a commercial producer decides that your heartfelt, beautiful melody and lyrics would be the PERFECT ironic compliment to their new spot promoting HERPES medication.

Two months later, your ballad is inexorably and permanently associated in the public consciousness with STDs.

Your recourse? Nothing. After all, they paid the same piddling licensing fee that the wedding folks did.

Point being that RIGHTS aren't exclusively about the amount of money exchanging hands. They are also about giving the creator of a work the right to control where and how their work is used.

Lots of people think it should be free and unfettered to associate copyright music to build feelings in a wedding video for that couples "special day". But doesn't that mean I should also get to argue my "right" to tie those same songs to my hot new reality series - Slaughterhouse Employees in Training?

Fair is fair, after all.

Just an additional perspective to the discussion.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 01:36 PM   #51
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If someone's wedding video is made into a better product than it otherwise might be by virtue of the popular music you have used in it at the couple's request, then the creator of that music deserves a piece of the fee you collected for shooting the gig and making the video.
In some places that is easier than others. There in Canada, isn't there a way of getting more reasonable sync licenses (more like mechanical licenses here in the US)? Countries with more modern copyright laws seem to have more reasonable methods for doing this. Here in the US we are stuck with zip for compulsory sync licensing.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 02:16 PM   #52
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In some places that is easier than others. There in Canada, isn't there a way of getting more reasonable sync licenses (more like mechanical licenses here in the US)? Countries with more modern copyright laws seem to have more reasonable methods for doing this. Here in the US we are stuck with zip for compulsory sync licensing.
Nope, Canada generally hasn't followed the lead of other Commonwealth countries like Australia and the UK in this regard and there is no such thing as a 'compulsary" sync license. Most of our copyright laws are pretty close to paralleling the USA AFAIK. One of the few exceptions, and one that surprised me when I learnt of it, is regarding the copyright on still portraits. In the US the photographer owns the copyright to the image but here in Canada the person contracting to have the portrait made owns the copyright on the picture.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 03:44 PM   #53
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EDIT: Oops...didn't notice there was another page left to the thread. Apparently somebody already pointed this out.

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Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
It makes me feel so much better knowing that BMI/ASCAP are assiduously tracking down the heirs of Bach and Scarlatti and others of that era so they can pay them a royalty based on the number of times a classical guitarist performs their work at our local 10 - 15 table coffee shop.
I'm fairly certain that the music written by those composers is in the public domain. RECORDINGS of them, however, are not. For example, were I to perform and record my own version of, say, Beethoven's Fifth, I would be allowed to sell that recording to you. If you were to then use that recording as background music for a video without permission or paying royalties, THAT would be illegal.

Actually, that reminds me of one of my proffesors who would play old silent films in class, with music that didn't match the visuals at all. The reason for this, he explained, was because these films were in the public domain, so technically all one had to do to sell copies of them is to change them just enough to make them your own. In this case, the company that made my proffessor's collection decided to just slap on any old music. You could tell that the music wasn't composed specifically for the film, as it would have been back when it was performed by musicians inside the theater, when it was first released.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 04:07 PM   #54
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The folks who sell library sound effects for royalty free use (after you buy the library) probably try their best to see if anyone's using their trademark effects without a license.
The answer to this question might seem obvious, but I've never purchased a SFX or music library before:
How would you prove that the music (or SFX) is from a royalty free library that you PURCHASED?

I've never had to deal with most of this because I have a friend who is really into everything audio, and he usually takes care of all of that for me.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 04:22 PM   #55
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The answer to this question might seem obvious, but I've never purchased a SFX or music library before:
How would you prove that the music (or SFX) is from a royalty free library that you PURCHASED?

I've never had to deal with most of this because I have a friend who is really into everything audio, and he usually takes care of all of that for me.
Letting your friend take care of it is dangerous ... as producer of the video, you have the legal responsibility to make sure all the 't's are crossed and 'i's dotted. The buck stops on your desk. If your friend gets something wrong, it's going to be you, not him, in front of the court and paying the damages. You need to make sure you're completely up to speed on the law and the source of your materials so you can be sure your friend is doing it all properly.

When you purchase from a library you get a reciept and a license, the two of which together establish your right to use the materials.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 04:33 PM   #56
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Steve - I may be out of date but in the "old days" the US photographer owned the negatives and was thus the only one who could make prints but the client owned the images and the photographer couldn't make prints except for the client. Or at least that's how the photographer that did our wedding portraits explained it.

David - Since my wife is a classical pianist who still performs occasionally I have a great source of public domain classical recordings - particularly since she prefers to use the "Urtext" or original unedited editions so not even any copyright issues with the music itself. Of course you're right about Bach and Scarlatti being public domain - particularly since there was no copyright system around at the time anyhow. Which is why Liszt could for example freely make piano reductions of the scores to the Beethoven symphonies and everybody borrowed each others themes. And classical music flourished. Sort of like open source software!
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Old August 17th, 2010, 05:00 PM   #57
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Steve - I may be out of date but in the "old days" the US photographer owned the negatives and was thus the only one who could make prints but the client owned the images and the photographer couldn't make prints except for the client. Or at least that's how the photographer that did our wedding portraits explained it....!
The photographer owns the copyright to the images he makes but the subjects still retain the rights to control the use of their likenesses. That means the photographer can't actually DO anything with the images unless the subject gives him their release. The wedding couple couldn't barter for a free dress in exchange for permission to use a photograph of the bride in an ad for the wedding dress store because it's the photographer who owns the rights to reproduce the actual image, but the photographer also requires a release from the bride to use her likness commercially before he could sell the photograph to the store for the same purpose. That's why a wedding couple can't legally take the proofs from their wedding shoot into Costco and have reprints made to send to their family ... to do so would violate the photographer's copyright.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 05:06 PM   #58
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The answer to this question might seem obvious, but I've never purchased a SFX or music library before:
How would you prove that the music (or SFX) is from a royalty free library that you PURCHASED?

I've never had to deal with most of this because I have a friend who is really into everything audio, and he usually takes care of all of that for me.
That's an interesting question. The threshold for musical copyright infringement here in the states was at one point arbitrarily set at a specified number of identical notes in a row (remember MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This"?). I wonder if some effects house would be able to challenge your unlicensed use of their car crash effect based on the waveform being 90% similar or some such legal test.


And I didn't mean to imply that anyone should be able to obtain the cheap (or free) rights to someone else's work of art, by government rote. Heck, if the Rolling Stones want to charge $100k for 30 seconds of Paint It Black - that should be their right. I'm just saying, it seems unreasonable at times.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 05:09 PM   #59
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Letting your friend take care of it is dangerous ... as producer of the video, you have the legal responsibility to make sure all the 't's are crossed and 'i's dotted. The buck stops on your desk. If your friend gets something wrong, it's going to be you, not him, in front of the court and paying the damages. You need to make sure you're completely up to speed on the law and the source of your materials so you can be sure your friend is doing it all properly.
Yes, I know all this. I should have specified. My friend usually composes the music for me or creates it using free loops. As for the sound effects, we often work together to record whatever we can.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 05:39 PM   #60
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I think it was a Stones song that Conan Obrian used during one of the shows his last week on the Tonight show that set NBC back something in the order a million dollars to air one 30-second clip.
All of those 'cost NBC millions' were fake, by the way, including this one. They make for good TV though.
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