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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:16 PM   #1
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Wedding DVD Question

I have a Canon XH A1 that I use for some commercial video work that is not related to the wedding business. I also am a computer geek and enjoy creating memory DVDs. Due to this many friends and family have asked me to shoot their weddings and create weddind DVDs for them.

Just out of curiousity I did some checking to see if there are any copyright issues for using audio for instance. I have spent hours on the web reading and still don't have a great answer to a few questions on copyright issues:

1) It appears using any copyrighted song on a wedding DVD to use for an audio track is illegal even if the bride and groom purchased this legally. Is this correct?

2) What about even video taping any of the songs that are sung or played during the wedding. Wouldn't that also violate?

3) If you use a copyrighted song that was purchased by the bride and groom and they want 10 copies of the DVD for their friends and family, how does this apply to copyright. Do they need to buy 10 copies of the song, etc?

4) Do I need the bride and groom to sign something or the singers or other people on the video to make sure I am covered?

Sorry for all the questions. It would be terrible to get a fine for doing something that I did as a favor.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:30 PM   #2
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Moved from Canon XH (the topic has nothing to do with the camera) to TCB. These are frequently asked questions -- please search the forum first.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Korey Kirschenmann View Post
Sorry for all the questions. It would be terrible to get a fine for doing something that I did as a favor.
As Chris said, there are many long threads about copyright music in videos.

As far as "getting a fine", there are no copyright police that will show up and write you a ticket. Enforcing a copyright is the responsibility of the copyright holder, and is generally enforced in a civil court.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:19 PM   #4
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retire

I can't see a way to quit or retire the thread. I did a search on the web not on the site and I do see there are lots of discussions on the topic. Thanks.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 05:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Korey Kirschenmann View Post
...

1) It appears using any copyrighted song on a wedding DVD to use for an audio track is illegal even if the bride and groom purchased this legally. Is this correct?

2) What about even video taping any of the songs that are sung or played during the wedding. Wouldn't that also violate?

3) If you use a copyrighted song that was purchased by the bride and groom and they want 10 copies of the DVD for their friends and family, how does this apply to copyright. Do they need to buy 10 copies of the song, etc?

4) Do I need the bride and groom to sign something or the singers or other people on the video to make sure I am covered?

Sorry for all the questions. It would be terrible to get a fine for doing something that I did as a favor.

IANAL

#1: It is correct. When you purchase a CD, etc, you are personally permitted to make a copy for backup purposes or to move a copy to your mp3 player, etc, for your personal use. You may not make copies and give them to any third party. The kicker here is that a copy of the tune in their wedding video does not qualify as a backup copy. Plus when they give you the Cd and you incorporate it into a wedding video that you then sell to the B&G, you are selling copies of the tune. The fact that your SOURCE of the material being copied was something they already owned is irrelevant. YOU are the one making the copy which you are then selling or giving to them. In the eyes of the law it's no different from burning copies of a CD which you then sell under the counter at the corner convenience store. PLUS you are "syncing" the music to pictures. No where in the law is that permitted without license, even if it's for your own private, personal use (not that you would likely get caught if you were just doing it privately for the fun of it.)

#2: Illegal but not quite as cut and dried. If the DJ licensed the music as he should, he has a performance license. That is something very different from a sync and master use license. If you shot the B&G first dance and recorded the music they're dancing to off of the PA, the fact it went through several steps to get onto your tape doesn't change anything, it's no different than if you captured the music digitally off of the original CD. OTOH, if you were recording interviews and there was some music playing in the background, that would probably fall under the spectrum of accidental use and courts have been a bit more lenient in that regard.

#3: You can't use the song at all (without licensing it), whether they have purchased the CD or not. It doesn't matter how many copies they've bought becase you're not allowed to make even 1 copy of 1 tune off of the CD they own to use in their video. The only rights their purchasing the CD gives them is the right to play it and listen to it - nothing more. Neither they or anyone else is permitted to copy the music for any purpose other than the specific reasons mentioned above.

#4: You can't have them sign something that waives your responsibilty to follow the law, illegal provisions in contracts are null and void. If your buddy signs a statement absolving you of blaime and then has you wait at the curb while he goes in and robs a bank, think that absolves you from conviction for driving the getaway car? You could have them sign an indemnity statement of some sort saying that if you are sued, they will pay for your defense and reimburse your losses and a court MIGHT recognize it, but try and collect! No matter what, siince you are the one physically making the copy, you're the one responsible for knowing and complying with the law and you're the one the copyright owner will haul into court no matter what your client has signed.

If it sounds h**d a**ed, it's because the law itself is very narrow and specific. I wish it were different, but in North American it's not and that's the reality you have to deal with. The short of it is, unless you have acquired valid sync and master use licenses by some means, it is illegal to use any copyright music whose copyright you do not personally own (you created and recorded yourself). Full stop, no exceptions, no workarounds, no back doors. All those wedding videographers who use popular music in their products are indeed breaking the law and placing all their assets at risk. Many, perhaps most, get away with it. Some get caught and lose everything. Do you feel lucky? ... Well, do ya?
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Old May 15th, 2008, 03:44 PM   #6
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Steve thanks for the response. After reading more and more, I came to the same conclusions.
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