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Old May 31st, 2003, 08:28 PM   #1
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Do you give a % to the theater director?

Hi,
I have a question regarding taping a choral performance and producing DVDs for sale:

If I am asked as a company to come and video tape a musical performance and then edit it and author it onto DVD, should I take all the profits or should I give a % of the charge per DVD to the director of the performance? Here is my situation: I was asked to record this performance inorder to sell DVDs of it. I video taped the performance and am authoring DVDs to sell for $15 each. It costs me a total of $4 materials (not including payment for time spent editing the video and authoring the DVDs) to make the DVD with labels, case, ink, paper, etc. So that is $11 profit for me per DVD. Now, because someone else directed and put this together, isn't it their "intellectual property" and so therefore I should give them a percentage per DVD sold? Tell me if this is right or not. Do most people give the director a percentage or am I just being different? If you do give a percentage, what would be a good number?

Thanks a ton!
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Old May 31st, 2003, 09:43 PM   #2
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I suggest that you consult an attorney and proceed with caution. I assume there is no formal written contract for all this; it could be a real can of worms for you. Aside from the director, do you have written releases from all the performers, musicians and the venue? Do you have rights make a video from the music publishers? As a practical matter, you may very well get away with whatever you like. On the other hand, somebody might choose to "make an example" of you. I've heard plenty of horror stories...
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Old May 31st, 2003, 10:43 PM   #3
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This is a public school performance. So the musician is a teacher who plays the piano and the performers are students. The DVDs will be sold only to the students and their families. This is not something that requires much legal attention. I thank you greatly for your concern and advice. What would you do as far as the percentage? When I say "give a % back to the director", I really mean back to the organization or company I am working for. So like, would you give a % per DVD back to the company you are filming for? Thanks for your input!
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Old June 1st, 2003, 05:31 AM   #4
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I wouldn't worry about the Director. You are the one filming, editing, and authoring a performance you were ASKED to do. It is only fair to recieve some compensation for your efforts and time, and recover costs. If the Director didn't get anything up front for their time, they should have worried about that before doing the show. $15.00 a DVD is almost a giveaway for your work.
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 01:07 AM   #5
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Thanks for your input!
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 07:58 AM   #6
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Making a profit from someone else's performance is a serious legal consideration. It doesn't matter if it's the City Symphony, or the kindergarten class recital. There are legal liabilities involved.

Was the music in the public domain? If not, then selling a performance of the music is, in a strictly legal sense, against the law.

(For instance, are they performing modern pop tunes?)

If you are the one making a profit, you are the one liable.
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 02:28 PM   #7
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No these are all old songs adapted by the director. Thanks.
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 04:10 PM   #8
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"Old Songs"

That means they are over seventy five years old, right?
They have to be roughly that old to approach being in the public domain. If you are talking about Classical Choral arrangements, (Bach, Motzart, etc) No problems.
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 04:28 PM   #9
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Also another issue is of the school. Did the teacher clear the use of video for the shoot and did they have permission slips go home as well? I understand this is all stupid but covering the basis is what counts. Oh if a parent saw this and didn't want their child in the video you might have a problem there. Hard to say lots of work. GL

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Old June 3rd, 2003, 01:53 AM   #10
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I understand everyone's concerns and cautions about consulting an attorney and about all the legal issues. But all legal issues aside, what would you guys do about the percentage to the director. This is purely a ethical question, should I give the director (or company/organization) a % because I am making $$ off their work that they put together? Thanks.
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 07:19 AM   #11
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Scott,

"All legal issues aside..."

Bad approach. Obviously, you have a sense of ethics, as you are trying to decide what to give the director. Broaden that sense of ethics beyond your possible obligations to him, and realize the WHOLE legal picture. Your obligations to the director are only a small part of what your "exposure" might be.

I have seen these problems arise in the real world. My wife is an IP attorney. I have seen small groups get sued by big organizations for not paying the miniscule performance rights up front.

Depending on your eventual market, Selling someones performance requires their permission. (THis is why you need a realease signed by the participants.)

You seem to be avoiding the point. SOMEONE owns the rights to the perfromance you videotaped... Without knowing the nature of the performance, I wouldn't venture a guess as to who owes what to whom.
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 09:09 AM   #12
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Hey Scott...Just a thought. Maybe think of this in 'reverse'. Decide how much of the profits you need to keep to be satisfied then give the rest to the school with a "quit claim deed" type of approach. i.e. You are giving them money in a good will gesture because of the performance they essentially 'gave you' to record and you are giving back. Have someone in authority connected with the concert sign a release of liability acknowledging the receipt of funds.

If someone in charge at the school 'signs off' by accepting the money they can then put it towards whomever they chose involved with the concert. Seems like that would make it more of a 'win, win' all around and should any liability issues arise down the road this would spread the responsibility around a little.

I know you are not concerned about liability with a school but believe me...the very thing you are not concerned about will come around and bite you squarely in the behind when you are not looking. Please look into it for your own 'legal' safety.

Who hired you to shoot the concert anyway? Was it anyone connected with the school? Did they get any form of clearance? What did you get in writing from them when hired? How much did the school know about the recording ahead of time.

Here's the URL for the US Copyright office:

http://www.loc.gov/copyright/
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 02:27 PM   #13
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Hi guys,
I really do understand that I need to be cautious with the legal issues and I am looking into that. I know what I need to do and I am going to be talking with the director and school about it, and I will be looking into how old the music is, who owns the rights, etc. But really, I would like your thoughts on the percentage to the organization. Do you guys do something like that when you videotape a performance? Thanks for all your advice and cautions. You might have saved me from some nasty event in the future!
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Old June 8th, 2003, 09:39 AM   #14
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In the past.....

on public performances like the one you describe, I have given 30% to the organization. Generally, they respond very well to this. Get the quit claim signed and sealed.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 01:53 PM   #15
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Dean,
When you give 30% to the organization, about how much did you charge or about what was your profit? Like I mentioned earlier, I am charging $15 per DVD and raw materials costs $4. Thats $11 profit and 30% of $11 is $3.30 which brings my pay for all my time and work down to $7.70. Does this sound about right to you? Thanks for you input!
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