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Old April 12th, 2004, 06:20 PM   #1
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Purchasing music for photo montage

Can I legally purchase and download a song from a legit mp3 site and use it with one copy of a photo montage DVD?

I have read through these forums and I am confused. I understand that I can purchase a song over the internet and everyone that has licence to it gets paid and everyting is alright. Many people are doing this and making a CD with their favorite songs on it. If it is OK to burn the song to a CD, I assume it is OK to transfer it to a tape, DVD or even cut a vinyl record if I have the equipment and I only make one copy for each song that I purchase, so - can I purchase a song and have it play as a photo montage plays? By combing the song with the images, have I somehow changed the song?

Thank you.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 06:33 PM   #2
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No. When you purchase a song online, all you are purchasing is the right to listen to it yourself, not to reuse it in one of your own productions.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 06:39 PM   #3
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Is it the 'production' part that caused the problem? If I make a photo montage for myself can I watch the DVD and be within the rights that I have purchased, or is adding the video the problem?
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Old April 12th, 2004, 06:48 PM   #4
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If you are the only person viewing this, then I believe it falls under personal use. The moment you give this to someone else I believe that crosses the line.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 07:20 PM   #5
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So where or how do we get music for montages? TL
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Old April 12th, 2004, 08:22 PM   #6
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You can check out www.smartsound.com as one starting point. I've noticed that several people - even among the pros - have said they use one version or another of the Smart Sound product line. I think Smart Sound may have purchased or is in some other way affiliated with Music Bakery, which also has been mentioned at dvinfo.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 08:49 PM   #7
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I don't know if it's ever been addressed, but I can't believe any court would find you liable for infringement if it's purely personal use. I am of the opinion that once media is in your home you should be able to do whatever the heck you want with it, including copying it as much as you want to whatever multimedia forms you want. The line should be drawn as soon as you give it to someone else. Of course that's my policy opinion, not necessarily the law. Like I said this area is not well defined.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 09:05 PM   #8
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Thanks Patricia, I will look there, TL
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Old April 12th, 2004, 10:09 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Peter Moore : I don't know if it's ever been addressed, but I can't believe any court would find you liable for infringement if it's purely personal use.
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The court will uphold the law and if the copyright owner wants to pursue a judgement against you, you loose. The court has no choice.
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I am of the opinion that once media is in your home you should be able to do whatever the heck you want with it, including copying it as much as you want to whatever multimedia forms you want. The line should be drawn as soon as you give it to someone else. Of course that's my policy opinion, not necessarily the law. Like I said this area is not well defined. -->>>

I think it is well defined, just not widely understood. Just read the license you get with the music. It clearly spells out the license rights you get for your $.
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Old April 12th, 2004, 10:19 PM   #10
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I want to use popular music with photo montages that I make for other people. These will usually be just one copy and viewed in their home (vacation, birthday, etc). I didn't get a clear answer above, but from other posts I think that it is 'changing' the content of the music by adding it to the pictures that creates the problem.

From what I understand so far it goes like this: you must get a license to use copywrited music in a production like the ones I would like to do, however, the people that would do the licensing can't be bothered with small requests like mine, so they will not even respond or work with you. Thousand of people are using popular music in all kinds of small productions, such as wedding videos, home movies, etc. without licensing and I never hear of anyone being prosecuted for it (not that it doesn't happen, I just have never heard of it. Please let me know if you have). I read somewhere that there was an understanding that if you made fewer than 10 copies of a production, the owners of the copywrite would not worry about it. I guess it might be like other laws are still on the books, but are not persued. I think that fornication is illegal in many states, but I don't hear of people being prosecuted for that either, although I would guess that a few people are engaging in it.

I would be glad to pay a reasonable fee to use music, like the mp3 pay sites, but don't know how to do it. Is there a resonable way to stay in compliance with the law, or do the the people that do the licensing just not care enough to provide a way. If they don't care to provide a reasonable solution, I would hope they would also not care enough to prosecute.

Is there a practical solution to this?
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Old April 13th, 2004, 02:07 AM   #11
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As a total amateur who will never face this issue, but who still prefers to buy fully licensed music, even if only for home video, here's the way I look at it: if someone came across a video I made, cut two or three minutes of it into his/her product and distributed it to 10 people without attribution or payment, let alone my permission, would I mind? You know what, even as a lousy amateur, I probably would. I might not mind if it were for one person's use - if I somehow found out about it, I might even be flattered, depending on what use was made of it, but I might also take umbrage, depending on the circumstances. I would probably take the most umbrage if my work were being used for a purpose which I opposed or to make a profit for someone else off my unpaid labor.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 06:29 AM   #12
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Yes, they will come after you. Yes, there is a story in DV Magazine a few months back about a wedding videographer being shut down for using copyrighted music. Do a search under Paul Tauger here on the board for LONG threads about this subject.

There is a solution to your problem. It's called "Royalty free" or "Needle drop" music. You buy the library, and depending on the license, you get to use it in different ways. Or go to www.freeplaymusic.com to get a taste of what can be done.

You are an artist now. Do unto other artists as you would have them do unto you.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 07:31 AM   #13
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"I think it is well defined, just not widely understood. Just read the license you get with the music. It clearly spells out the license rights you get for your $."

First of all, I've never seen a license come along with my CDs, have you?

"The court will uphold the law and if the copyright owner wants to pursue a judgement against you, you loose. The court has no choice."

That's also not entirely true. Fair use is a very fact-based inquiry. If copying inside the home for personal or educational use, even in video projects, and never distributing it to everyone is a fair use, which I believe it is but which, to my knowledge, has never been addressed, then there would be no liability. You wouldn't "loose" you'd "win." The only legal barrier to private, personal copying is the DMCA, which fortunately doesn't cover CDs. Once copies are given to anyone else, of course, that's when you lose.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 07:39 AM   #14
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I have looked at this music and even have a copy of SmartSounds. It is very nice, but not what I am looking for. I'm sure that you have been driving in your car and heard an old song come on the radio that took you back to a different time. Music has a way of bringing back so many rich memories of a time, place and feeling. When people look at a photo montage the music is what creates the emotion, not the pictures. Although the soundtracks from places like www.freeplaymusic can create a mood, it is not the same as the song that brings back the strong memories.

Patricia Kim said, "if someone came across a video I made, cut two or three minutes of it into his/her product and distributed it to 10 people without attribution or payment, let alone my permission, would I mind? You know what, even as a lousy amateur, I probably would." I understand this, the problem I have is that the songs I want to use have been licensed and paid for by millions of people and every radio station in the country. They sit on the front rooms and automobiles of millions of people. They are available for purchase by me in record stores and on the internet, yet even when I purchase them there is no way for me to use them in my video. I want to pay a reasonable amount for them. I want the artist to get paid. I want to buy the rights to use the music in my video, but there doesn't seem to be a way.

Richard Alvarez said, "You are an artist now. Do unto other artists as you would have them do unto you." As an artist, I would love to have people begging me to pay for and use my work. That is what I am doing to them. It seem that they don't care enough to make it available.

Is there a solution to this problem? I want to be able to use popular music in my videos, 'the' song that everyone hears on the radio, owns a CD, and brings back the emotion and memories with their pictures.
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Old April 13th, 2004, 08:27 AM   #15
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Lloyd, you are facing the issue that many of us face. I, too, make video montages for all sorts of things: swim team, soccer team, basketball team, and some really are just for personal use -- that will not even be seen outside my family.

Using copyrighted songs for your video montages is the easy way out. Yes, they certainly conjure up emotions and images like no other type of music could, but it is just not legal if you're going to distribute it, even to one person.

Last year, someone on our swim team put together a montage, and the background music was several popular songs picked out by the kids. Everyone loved it. Everyone wanted to buy a copy. The decision was made to distribute the montage at a nominal fee -- $10. The only problem was, due to fear of litigation, the montage was only made available with no music. Have you ever watched a photo montage with no music? Boring. Now, the odds of the swim team being caught really are quite small. But if they were caught, is it really worth the consequenses? Not in the least. I sincerely doubt that the arguments of "hey, it was just personal use", or "we are a non-profit organization" or "I bought an equal number of licenses for each video sold" will hold any water. Besides, do you even want to be having that conversation?!?

But you're still left with the delimma, as I was this year when I was put in charge of the swim team video: how do I make this interesting and fun and pull out the emotions that I want to without using popular music? I have chosen the smartsound route. Everyone who watches this video comments on the professionalism, and the music does a very good job of catching the mood. Using smartsound, I adjust the music to the length that I want rather than adjusting the montage to the length of the song. You'll find several smartsound selections that sound remarkably similar to popular music out there, and can give the same feel that you're looking for. I'll admit, it is harder -- you may have to do a lot of searching and tweaking on the selection to get what you want.

All that being said, I've created montages with copyrighted music before, but *only* if it is truly for my own personal use (e.g., I am creating one right now for my daughter's 16th birthday -- it will only be viewed by my immediate family).

I'd say your chances of getting caught are small, but the penalty if you are caught is just too high. Think about this: let's say you get well known in your community for doing this type of work, and you build up a nice list of clientele. As your competitor in the same city, using only royalty-free music in my montages and therefore at an arguably competitive disadvantage, I might alert the authorities to what you're doing so that the playing field is level. It's just not worth the trouble.
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