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Old December 10th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #1
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How does the News get away with using music?

Hello everyone...

I have read through the forums regarding copyright issues when it comes to music, and how there is essentially no "fair use" anymore; and how the costs are astronomical...

which leads me to the question... how do cable news shows with limited budgets, get away with using extremely recognizable songs in every show? The Keith Olberman show comes to mind, at the end of every segment a DIFFERENT famous song is played. It seems unlikely that they actually have the money to license 3-8 famous songs PER SHOW... which begs the question, how do they do it?

Any insight is greatly appreciated...

Crap... pardon my grammar, with regards to the title!!!
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Old December 10th, 2008, 02:21 PM   #2
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I am not sure if this applies to TV stations as well, it's not really that expensive. DJ's pay a certain fee to use music ( $ 150/year, last time I checked). I pretty sure they have permission to use the music or have paid a fee.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 02:42 PM   #3
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Broadcasting is a different critter from filmmaking and the use of a song in that context would be similar to a DJ playing a song on the air. That's a performance license, paid for by paying royalties to ASCAP or BMI and not THAT expensive on a per song use. Incorporating a song into a video (or film) soundtrack is another matter, requiring a sync licernse and probably a master use license as well. Not familiar with that show but using a given song as a segment bumper probably costs them one heck of a lot less than it would cost to license the same song in order to have it playing on a car radio during a scene in, say, "CSI Miami."

I don't think it's accurate to say there's no "fair use" anymore. In fact, it's pretty much as it's always been AFAIK. "Fair use" has always been restricted to a handful of specific uses such as news coverage, academic research, copying for use in classroom education, or criticism and review where limited copying has been considered to be a general public interest that overrides the commercial interests of the copyright holder and nothing much has changed in that regard.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 02:57 PM   #4
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When I worked in local broadcast news, the station paid a yearly fee for an ASCAP license that allowed them to use "popular music" in the broadcasts, but I think there were limitations on what songs could be used, and how the piece was used. These fees are far less than those associated with using the same music in a dramatic piece, but they do come with strings attached and were limited to use in a live broadcast only, if I remember correctly. I do remember there being lots of confusion as to the rules, and it seemed that nobody within the station could coherently spell out when we'd be in violation of the rules, but this was local news in a small town and it seemed that nobody really knew what was going on around there anyway with regards to regulations.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #5
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TV stations, networks, etc. pay a yearly license fee to BMI and ASCAP for music. However, the promotions and ad departments usually own a buyout or royalty free music collection for commercials and promos.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 04:44 PM   #6
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I was never involved in this but it was my understanding that you needed to keep track of what music was used. There was a set of music for the news opens and bumpers and such but even if you used a different selection from that library, somebody needed to know about it. Commercial music was used very sparingly.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 08:13 PM   #7
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I just checked out BMI and ASCAP... it look like they have most songs accounted for...

So why do people worry about the cost of music in their independent productions, when they could just get a license for a year, and see if it gets picked up?
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Old December 10th, 2008, 10:13 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by John Brinks View Post
So why do people worry about the cost of music in their independent productions, when they could just get a license for a year, and see if it gets picked up?
It doesn't work that way. Broadcasting and your productions are like apples and armadillos to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

If there was some way to do it the way you suggest someone would have figured out long ago and we'd all be doing it that way.

Instead, the RIAA (and similar entities around the world) have a very large phalanx of lawyers ready to pounce on any suspected license infringment.
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Old December 10th, 2008, 11:10 PM   #9
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Even bars, clubs, etc play a license fee per year for the rights
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Old December 11th, 2008, 04:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by John Brinks View Post
I just checked out BMI and ASCAP... it look like they have most songs accounted for...

So why do people worry about the cost of music in their independent productions, when they could just get a license for a year, and see if it gets picked up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie Gillespie View Post
Even bars, clubs, etc play a license fee per year for the rights

You are both confusing PERFORMANCE licensing where a modest royalty is paid through ASCAP or BMI, etc, to play a song publicly on the radio or in a bar, with SYNC licensing to use a song itself - its words and music - in the soundtrack of a film or video, and MASTER USE licensing to use a specific pre-existing recording of a song in the soundtrack of a film or video. Bars, radio and TV stations, dentist's offices, supermarkets, etc pay royalties for the performance licenses but a performance license DOES NOT give you the right to use the music in a soundtrack of a film or video, in a commerical, etc, indy or otherwise. A radio station can play "Granny Got Run Over By A Reindeer" on the air for a very small fee, usually included in their annual blanket license, but their sister station TV channel cannot legally use the same song as the backing music for an auto brake shop ad without explicit permission from the publisher and record label and payment of a lot more money. Use it as the soundtrack for a animated short about Granny's encounter with Santa and you'll need to negotiate rights directly with the owner - ASCAP/BMI won't be involved.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 07:08 AM   #11
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but their sister station TV channel cannot legally use the same song as the backing music for an auto brake shop ad without explicit permission from the publisher and record label and payment of a lot more money.
Interesting. I wonder if the rules have changed, at least for radio, in the last 30 years. Everyone I worked with in radio back then would use tracks from commercially produced records for music beds for commercials without giving it a second thought.

Station promos were in the same basket. Using tracks from records was the norm in markets large and small. The great Bobby Ocean and the late Michael Spears at KFRC produced some amazing work without using anything from a purchased stock library. Maybe it was such a corner case that nobody cared back then.

Sorry for getting a bit OT on this, but it's because of my background that I constantly wrestle myself away from even thinking about using most commercial music. If it wasn't for Creative Commons I'd probably lose my mind, although some would argue it's too late.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tripp Woelfel View Post
Interesting. I wonder if the rules have changed, at least for radio, in the last 30 years. Everyone I worked with in radio back then would use tracks from commercially produced records for music beds for commercials without giving it a second thought.

Station promos were in the same basket. Using tracks from records was the norm in markets large and small. The great Bobby Ocean and the late Michael Spears at KFRC produced some amazing work without using anything from a purchased stock library. Maybe it was such a corner case that nobody cared back then.

Sorry for getting a bit OT on this, but it's because of my background that I constantly wrestle myself away from even thinking about using most commercial music. If it wasn't for Creative Commons I'd probably lose my mind, although some would argue it's too late.
My experience in radio dates from the 80's and we would always use buyout library music for commercial beds, bumpers, promo's etc. A lot of program directors labour under the impression that their ASCAP/BMI blanket licenses for airplay use covers alol other usage as well but it must definitely does not. I honestly don't know just what they're doing for licensing when they use current popular tracks for commercials for the station such as you see on TV. So many stations are part of large chains or content franchisers these days - there's stations billing themselves as K-LITE all over the country, for example, all with the same playlists and sound - that perhaps the parent franchise negotiates licenses directly with the music publisher and recording studio for the tunes they use in station promos.
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Old December 11th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #13
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After researching their website a little bit... it would seem that you would be allowed to use ascap music for independent features, and TV shows, as long as the program is never recorded to a storage medium... here is the link to there TV licensing FAQ:

ASCAP Licensing: Television FAQ

In fact, the BMI website actually has a category called "Film/television" which would seem to specifically include feature length movies...

Which brings me back to my first comment about cable news playing music... Technically you would think they needed a "Sync" license for that, since it is integrated into their soundtrack... but that does not seem to be the case, since they most likely do not have the budget for such a thing???
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Old December 11th, 2008, 02:58 PM   #14
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After researching their website a little bit... it would seem that you would be allowed to use ascap music for independent features, and TV shows, as long as the program is never recorded to a storage medium... here is the link to there TV licensing FAQ:

ASCAP Licensing: Television FAQ

In fact, the BMI website actually has a category called "Film/television" which would seem to specifically include feature length movies...

Which brings me back to my first comment about cable news playing music... Technically you would think they needed a "Sync" license for that, since it is integrated into their soundtrack... but that does not seem to be the case, since they most likely do not have the budget for such a thing???
Note the use of the word "perform" on the web site. That means someone is playing it live on the air.

As for having the budget or not, there is no standard rate for a sync licnese. In the case of a documentary, the copyright holder might believe in your cause and let you use it for free or NOT believe in your cause and ask a hundred grand. It's totally up to them. If the music is contemporary, the owners might be letting them use it at low or no cost to promote the record, you just don't know. One thing is certain, CNN has such a brace of lawyers that they're not likely to be just winging it and hoping they don't get caught.
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Old January 26th, 2009, 12:22 AM   #15
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Performance vs. Sync

I think what others have said about performance vs sync rights is correct. I used to intern for a large market television station. For their in and out bumps on the morning show they would use popular music, but the music had to be played back live- they could not edit it onto whatever video they were showing. I asked about why they did it this way, it seemed like it would be easier after all to just edit the music onto the video instead of have the sound guy roll it from the audio booth. It was explained to me that they only had a performance license, which only allowed them to play the music back on air- to edit it onto the video would require a sync license.
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