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Old September 10th, 2004, 12:43 PM   #1
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Copyrighted music in personal productions

Here's a legal question for ya:

Scenario A:
If I film, edit, and publish a video of my family reunion that will only be viewed by my immediate family, can I include copyrighted songs from CD's (I or a family member owns) on the soundtrack?

Scenario B:
If I film, edit and publish a video of someone's wedding that will only be viewed by them and their family/friends, can I include copyrighted songs from CD's they own on the soundtrack?

I think it's obvious that any video produced that will be viewed in a business or public environment, or sold/rented out, needs full permission from the music producer before that music can be included on the video. But what about videos that are for "personal consumption" ?

Keep in mind I'm assuming that no music would be used unless it was purchased legally and not illegally downloaded from the Internet.
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Old September 10th, 2004, 08:08 PM   #2
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I'm not a lawyer, but I had occasion to delve into this pretty deeply in the past, and I just finished taking a look at the applicable provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code, to refresh my memory. I'm quite sure of what I'm saying.

The owner of copyrighted material has exclusive rights to make and distribute copies and to perform or display the work publicly.

Your senarios don't violate the public display prohibition, but both of them violate the simple principle of distributing copies.

Infringements that are not for financial gain are only a violation of civil law, and the penalty is that you could be sued. However, it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever be sued for Scenario A, because there are virtually no damages to be recovered.

But the profit aspect of Senario B is a violation of criminal law and would leave you open to attack. The aggrieved party in that case does not have to go to the expense of suing you, all they have to do is file a complaint and sic the law on you. Are you likely to be discovered at the scale of operations of most wedding videographers? Probably not. But the possible consequences should give you pause. Even a disgruntled customer could lower the boom.
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Old September 11th, 2004, 10:47 AM   #3
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Re: Copyrighted music in personal productions

<<<-- Originally posted by Steve Williamson : Here's a legal question for ya:

Scenario A:
If I film, edit, and publish a video of my family reunion that will only be viewed by my immediate family, can I include copyrighted songs from CD's (I or a family member owns) on the soundtrack?>>>

I am not a lawyer, but I know this is against copyright law.
The reuse of any music that you did not create yourself
AND own the copyrights thereof, or that is not
in the 'public domain', is a violation.

<<<Scenario B:
If I film, edit and publish a video of someone's wedding that will only be viewed by them and their family/friends, can I include copyrighted songs from CD's they own on the soundtrack?>>>

Without the proper music licensing agreement,
this is a violation of copyright law.

<<<Keep in mind I'm assuming that no music would be used unless it was purchased legally and not illegally downloaded from the Internet. -->>>

Before you buy your music, read the music licensing agreement that
goes with your purchase.
Usually a "buy out" means you can do anything you
want with that music, but it is important to read the fine print.

So, if you pay for this music and you get the proper licensing agreement,
YES, you can use that music in anyway that your agreement states
including broadcast. There are also lots of programs out there like Acid
and Garageband that enable almost anyone to create for themselves
a decent sound track that you can use for any purpose because YOU own
the copyright.
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Old September 11th, 2004, 03:58 PM   #4
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Another scenario

Here's another scenario:

Suppose it's your own event that you video tape and edit yourself. In post, you use music from CD's you own in your own video. This is a video that won't be sold or distributed (in a business sense) but will likely be displayed to friends and family, and maybe a few copies might be given to said friends and family.

I've done this with videos I've made of events in my own life and used the finished edited videos as examples of my work to obtain paying projects.

Does that make it illegal? Does giving away copies of the video violate copyright laws, or does the violation only occur when the video is sold?

It seems like there are strict interpretations of the law, which although technically may be correct, scenarios like these being considered to be a valid violation isn't necessarily "right" or fair.
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Old September 11th, 2004, 06:29 PM   #5
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Steve, you can alter the scenario in any way you wish, but the answer pretty much remains the same. You can't use it if it isn't yours. Not that this stops most of the people out there... You have to decide which side of the fence you want to be on.
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Old September 12th, 2004, 07:40 PM   #6
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This really isn't a hard concept to understand. Why is there so much confusion about it?
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Old September 12th, 2004, 08:15 PM   #7
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Re: Copyrighted music in personal productions

Quote:
Scenario A:
If I film, edit, and publish a video of my family reunion that will only be viewed by my immediate family, can I include copyrighted songs from CD's (I or a family member owns) on the soundtrack?
No, though this _may_ come under fair use.

Quote:
Scenario B:
If I film, edit and publish a video of someone's wedding that will only be viewed by them and their family/friends, can I include copyrighted songs from CD's they own on the soundtrack?
No.

Quote:
I think it's obvious that any video produced that will be viewed in a business or public environment, or sold/rented out, needs full permission from the music producer before that music can be included on the video. But what about videos that are for "personal consumption" ?
Still obvious. Do a search on my name and "sync rights" or "wedding videographer" and you'll find more discussion than you could possibly want on this topic.

Quote:
Keep in mind I'm assuming that no music would be used unless it was purchased legally and not illegally downloaded from the Internet.
Doesn't matter.
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Old September 12th, 2004, 08:17 PM   #8
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Re: Another scenario

<<<-- Originally posted by Steve Williamson : Here's another scenario:

Suppose it's your own event that you video tape and edit yourself. In post, you use music from CD's you own in your own video. This is a video that won't be sold or distributed (in a business sense) but will likely be displayed to friends and family, and maybe a few copies might be given to said friends and family.

I've done this with videos I've made of events in my own life and used the finished edited videos as examples of my work to obtain paying projects.

Does that make it illegal?[/quote]Yes. Please do some searching in this forum -- this has been written on lots.

Quote:
Does giving away copies of the video violate copyright laws, or does the violation only occur when the video is sold?
Unauthorized copying is illegal. Unauthorized distribution is illegal. Doesn't matter whether it's sold or not.

Quote:
It seems like there are strict interpretations of the law, which although technically may be correct, scenarios like these being considered to be a valid violation isn't necessarily "right" or fair.
"Right" and "fair" are in the mind of the beholder. Do a search on my name, "copyright" and "Article 1, Section 8" for a discussion of the rationale underlying copyright protection.
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Old September 12th, 2004, 08:26 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Peter Moore : This really isn't a hard concept to understand. Why is there so much confusion about it? -->>>

Very simple my friend. People will tell themselves whatever they want to believe in order to make their life easier. Then, in order to solidify the lie, they tell other people. Then those people believe it to be factual, which is probably why we get the question so often. Tons of misinformation.

I've heard a lot of ridiculous excuses for using copyrighted music that go far beyond what we read here (none of these are really bad). The worst was:
I knew a guy who produced a sports video, and used all big name, A-list pop/rock music for it, and actually sold and distributed through some local sports stores. I met one of the people that helped him with it, and asked if he had changed the music to royalty free before selling it. The person said to me "No, he said he doesn't have to, because you are allowed to use any music you want free on instructional videos. The video has a small instructional piece at the end, so technically it qualifies."
My jaw dropped, I told her it was completely illegal. She said "oh well".
I didn't rat them out, although I probably should.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 09:07 AM   #10
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Wow.

It's just amazing to me that for some reason, when it comes to legal issues, people just make crap up out of thin air and decide it's the law with no knowledge whatsoever except what they believe is common sense and perhaps a minutia of truth (like fair use) like they might have heard in some different context 5 eyars ago.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 01:21 PM   #11
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Yep. I'm sure there are tons more examples out there, some of which would terrify us. I think drinking and driving used to be the biggest, with various formulas of you can drink X beers per Y amount of body weight, per Z amount of hours....
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Old September 13th, 2004, 03:42 PM   #12
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I sympathize with Steve and others like him, and I don't agree with the implication of some comments here that slowness to understand and accept the reality of copyright law indicates a character flaw. Much of copyright law is unintuitive.

Although I think it's a good thing, copyright law is not based upon natural rights like my right to be free from a punch in the face from my neighbor. Rather, it was contrived by lawmakers to achieve the practical social goal of encouraging creative effort. It has provisions that are arbitrary and some are excessive.

At least Steve is here trying to get this straight. Yes, he is trying to hold on to some ideas that are self-serving, but they are rational ideas. They just happen to be wrong in the face of copyright law. And yes, the law is the law.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 04:12 PM   #13
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None of this is meant to pick on Steve, he had a perfectly fair question.
Steve, I apologize if you took my comments to mean you specificaly.

We really see this question a lot here, so there is much information spread out there. The curious part to me, is that people think if they modify the circumstance slightly, it changes the situation enough to make it legal.

Some recent examples:
buying music of ITunes, one per copy of the video (a truly original idea, I liked it)
Buying each CD of the original music to be used...
Having a bride and groom hit the "render" button so they are the ones responsible...
Making a seperate sound track with the music on it...

And so on. The bottom line is if you don't have the rights to do it, it isn't legal. I'm in the same boat. I wish I had an easy way to legaly use copyright music in my projects. Hey, even better if I could do it free!
But just ain't that way. Look at it from the artists point of view, and that's something people rarely consider. Say I poured blood, sweat and tears into making a great song. It's mine. Can you use my song in your dirtbike or wedding video without asking me first? Hell no!
I think the system is based on a much older law, "Thou Shalt Not Steal", or as my mom puts it "If it isn't yours, keep your paws off it."
Lots of people blame the over complex system of getting rights to music for the problem. I can't agree with it as an excuse, but I do sympathize with the situation.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 06:07 PM   #14
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Classy post, Dylan, thanks.

We'll have to agree to disagree on the intrinsic moral rightness of copyrights (again, I think they're a good idea, I just don't think that they arise from fundamental ideas of right and wrong). I enjoy philosophical debates but this is probably not the place for them.

We can certainly agree that if we accept the benefits of the rule of law, but then go one to pick and choose which ones we'll obey ourselves, that's an integrity issue.
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Old September 13th, 2004, 07:07 PM   #15
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Heh, I've really got no real room to preach. I probably break more laws driving to work than most people here do all year. :)
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