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Old April 17th, 2008, 04:51 PM   #1
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Copyright Question

I have a client that wants some VHS converted to DVD. Just family video stuff, but he wants the music changed as he feels its dated. If he supplies the music and I dont charge an extra fee for putting his new music on the DVD with the video am I still in danger of copyright infringment. It was my understanding that if you dont charge for anything but your time for the conversion/transfer and they supply legal versions of the song you are legally safe. Thankas in advance!!!
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Old April 17th, 2008, 05:02 PM   #2
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There's already been a bit of discussion of this, mostly in the realm of wedding videos.

It boiled down to: legally it's still probably capable of getting you into hot water IF the rights owners (usually the studios) want to prosecute, BUT they aren't going to do that for a simple home/wedding video (with music supplied by the client). Really, if they wanted to get gung-ho against individuals, YouTube videos would be a richer vein to mine.

At your own risk, Shaun, but make up your own evaluation of how much risk there actually is.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Steele View Post
It was my understanding that if you dont charge for anything but your time for the conversion/transfer and they supply legal versions of the song you are legally safe.
That is not true. Infringement may be actionable even if you're not making money from it. As suggested, you have to evaluate the risk and do what you think is best. When in doubt, consult an attorney.

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Old April 17th, 2008, 05:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Steele View Post
If he supplies the music and I dont charge an extra fee for putting his new music on the DVD with the video am I still in danger of copyright infringment.
Rest assured, you are not "in danger of" copyright infringement... you are 100% infringing copyright. It is the act, not the intent, that constitutes the violation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Steele View Post
It was my understanding that if you dont charge for anything but your time for the conversion/transfer and they supply legal versions of the song you are legally safe.
Wherever you gained that understanding, it is not a reliable source for legal information. It is 100% wrong.

Now, the chances of you getting caught are another thing altogether, however I would be remiss to say go ahead and not to worry about it. I'm just going to tell you that you should know that, if you chose to use anyone's music without prior licensing arrangements (even an unsigned band's music), you are in violation of international copyright law... and that goes for music that is in the public domain!

Yes, the music of Mozart and such is PD, however the copyright of the recording belongs to someone else.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 05:50 PM   #5
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Thanks!!!!

Thanks guys!!!!
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Old April 20th, 2008, 09:56 AM   #6
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This subject has become very complex in the digital meduim age. A lot of this would fall under the arguements surrounding Fair Use Rights. If you purchase music or video performances, you own the rights for you personal use. That includes you being able to reporduce it for your "personal use". You can copy the music or video for your use. That would include using the music in other forms of media such as background music for a video or to play at a party. You can't profit from the use of the music and you cannot "rebroadcast" (another extremely vague term) the material.

If your client were doing this themselves I think it would be very clean and clear that it fell under his fair use rights. But, since he has hired you it is somewhat unclear whether you can do this. As Chris said if you are at all worried you should consult an attorney. I have discussed this with several lawyers that I know and they all have differing oppinions. I say opinions because there are actually several casing making their ways throught the courts that have yet to be decided regarding this subject.

I do know that there was a case filed against Sony when they were putting their protection software on their music. It prevented people from being able to copy the CD to their MP3 player. This was a big reason why Sony dropped their protection scheme on their CD's.

In any case if you pursue this further I would be interesed in knowing what you find out. Being in "litigation happy" California one never can be too careful. It usually costs more to defend yourself in a law suite than the amount of the verdict.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 03:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
This subject has become very complex in the digital meduim age. A lot of this would fall under the arguements surrounding Fair Use Rights. If you purchase music or video performances, you own the rights for you personal use. That includes you being able to reporduce it for your "personal use". You can copy the music or video for your use. That would include using the music in other forms of media such as background music for a video or to play at a party. You can't profit from the use of the music and you cannot "rebroadcast" (another extremely vague term) the material.

....
AFAIK you're only partially right in what copying you are entitled to do when it's for personal use. You were right when you said that when you copy for your own personal use you can change the medium of the copy, but that means you can copy a CD to your computer hard-drive or rip tracks to your MP3 player or vice versa, burn purchased MP3s onto CD, but I don't believe the law allows you to goes so far as "repurposing" the copies such as using them as backgrounds to a video. Profit or the lack of it doesn't enter the picture at all - the law is very specific that it is the act of copying that is prohibited irrespective of any economic considerations. If it made a difference whether or not you made a profit, it would be legal to copy a CD and give it to someone as a gift, but clearly that's not the case. People who have posted ripped music to file sharing services haven't made any profit from their copying yet they still lost in court when they were sued by the RIAA.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 09:56 AM   #8
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As always the answer is simple; if it isn't your's and you don't have permission to use it then you will be infringing on someone's copyright.

Ask the client for a notarized letter stating that they have permission to use the new music, footage, etc. in the production and that they are legally responsible in the event of copyright infringement. Always solves the problem.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 11:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
...

Ask the client for a notarized letter stating that they have permission to use the new music, footage, etc. in the production and that they are legally responsible in the event of copyright infringement. Always solves the problem.
That's not true - if you're the one who produced the show for the client, it's up to you to obtain the licenses and you're the one who will be sued for infringment. Your letter might let you turn around and sue the client to recover your losses buts it's by no means guaranteed that you'll prevail.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 02:09 PM   #10
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That's not true - if you're the one who produced the show for the client, it's up to you to obtain the licenses and you're the one who will be sued for infringment.
Steve,

My point is that the client ALWAYS backs down at this point and agrees to NOT use copyrighted material because they can't provide you with this kind of letter because they don't have permission. It puts the pressure on the client not on you the producer. Hence, "Works every time." It's just a strategy to gently reinforce to the client that they would be violating copyright.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 05:37 PM   #11
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a little flawed logic here

But Rick, what if the client using bad legal advice such as asking an acquaintance on a book lovers user forum (instead of consulting a lawyer) if they can do it and then they provide the notarized letter? What do you tell them then? You are still legally liable (and you know it) and the letter is a piece of paper than because of the evidence won't protect you in a court of law. You have no recourse except to tell the client that what you told them in the first place is not true. You then open yourself up to a lawsuit from them for breech of contract. you might think it's a little ridiculous but there have been people taken to court for less. Informing the client up front that copyright infringement is a very serious issue, especially in this day and age.

Please rethink your strategy, I don't want you to get into trouble.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 06:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
A lot of this would fall under the arguements surrounding Fair Use Rights. If you purchase music or video performances, you own the rights for you personal use. That includes you being able to reporduce it for your "personal use". You can copy the music or video for your use. That would include using the music in other forms of media such as background music for a video or to play at a party. You can't profit from the use of the music and you cannot "rebroadcast" (another extremely vague term) the material.

If your client were doing this themselves I think it would be very clean and clear that it fell under his fair use rights.
That's a shady interpretation of Fair Use.

Read up on it here:
http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

and here:

http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyrigh...view/chapter9/
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 06:34 PM   #13
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Doug,

Ok, let me lay it out for you. You're missing the forest for the trees.

1. I inform the client that if we use popular music, footage, etc. that they will be in violation of the owners copyright.
2. If the client persists then I ask for two things; a. a notarized letter saying they have legal permission to use the material and b. copies of the letters of permission from the copyright holder.
3. As I said, during 25 years in this business at this point most see my point and agree to use buyout music and/or footage that we purchase thus eliminating the problem.
4. For the few clients that persist beyond this I tell them to find some other idiot to break the law because I won't.

This way you can hang onto clients that are worth keeping, educate them a little in the process, stay out of legal trouble and jetison the clients that are nothing but trouble.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 07:45 PM   #14
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Rick, with all due respect consult a copyright, and contracts attorney specialist. If you do get taken into court you don't have a leg to stand on. Not my words but the words of an acquaintance of mine who is an attorney and Court Commissioner. He sees cases like this all the time, usually drawn up by "legal professionals" that don't know what they are really getting their clients into.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 09:11 PM   #15
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Doug provides some excellent advice here and I can think of no better way to conclude this thread than with his wise words. Thanks all,
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