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Old August 26th, 2009, 11:04 AM   #1
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event music copyright issue

What are the rules for having a videographer tape a school performance which includes copyrighted music? Can the videographer be paid for their time rather than for individual DVDs without infringing on any copyright laws?
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Old August 26th, 2009, 11:43 AM   #2
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The licensing agreement the school signs with the show's publisher dictates whether the performance can be videotaped or not. Whether or how the videographer gets paid or not is irrelevant -- if the contract says no videotaping then it's a violation either way.

Some publishers will let you make recordings for cast and crew and families, while others prohibit all video, all the time. Check the contract.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 11:47 AM   #3
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What are the rules for having a videographer tape a school performance which includes copyrighted music? Can the videographer be paid for their time rather than for individual DVDs without infringing on any copyright laws?
If you turn over the raw footage at the end of the event and walk away, you're just hired help and not responsible for the content of the finished program. But if you edit the shoot and otherwise create the finished product, you're responsible for its content, including insuring proper licenses have been obtained for the music. Typically performance licensing for the music used in the show does NOT include sync licenses that are needed for incorporation into a video. In many cases, the schools contract with the music publisher or the show publisher (such as plays like "Little Shop of Horrors", etc) contain provisions that specifically prohibit recording or videotaping of the performances.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 12:36 PM   #4
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You might want to check the archived threads - there was one not too long ago that described the nightmare of such a shooting situation. New teacher asked videographer to shoot, videographer spent quite a lot of time in prep and attending rehearsals, actual performance went badly (as in, the performance was apparently quite flawed), teacher asked to deep six the footage... videographer was trying to salvage, teacher "suddenly" discovers the clearances weren't in place... Videographer at least got paid SOMETHING for his time, but not what he expected... didn't have to deliver anything at least.

If the school asks you to do the shoot, then asking them about clearances should give you your answer - either the contracts on the "music" performed (this indicates it may not be a "play"?) allow for videotaping are in place or they aren't, and the school "probably" won't take the risk, ending the project. OR they may be all set, and you can proceed, or they may "proceed at their own (and your) risk" on grounds that your recording/documenting a kids performance, and THAT is what's important, not the "material" - legally incorrect, but a reasonable viewpoint as to a possible exception.

If you're initiating the shoot, ask a couple questions, and you'll likely quickly find, depending on the school, they will kabosh the whole thing, at least when there's profits involved...


It's quite sad when our schools, that are SO desperate for funding (talk to a teacher about the budget expectations... you'll either cry or be very angry or both) cannot take advantage of the opportunity to let their "user base" support them. I proposed that the video I was going to shoot/edit anyway (of MY child) could easily be duplicated and sold as a fund raiser for the school, and I'd be glad to do it... too many legal concerns... nope...

How many video screens/LCD's were dancing across the audience during the performance... DOZENS!!! Everyone has a video device nowdays, or at least a digital camera, even if it's in a cell phone... so there's lots of people who want to memorialize the event, and I'm sure MOST would gladly pay a few $$ for a "pro" multicam shot and edited DVD rather than shaky cam footage from a tired arm...

BUT because of the vagaries of the law, they get to have their "low quality" footage (which to me degrades the value of the performance and the performed work) instead of a higher quality product that shows the performance AND the performed work in the best light. AS an example I lightly edited a bit (one of the "stars" had a bit of "projectile stage fright" affecting her performance - play stopped and restarted "live") so the performance goes smoothly. The teacher (who always gets a free copy from me as a gift from my child) was SO happy and the performer was very thrilled when she watched it to the class...

I think what frustrates me about these "limited interest" event videos is that anyone can shoot them for personal use, but there are those (hi Steve) who want to make it an illegal act for someone to put a little effort into delivering a quality documentary result of the EXACT SAME PERFORMANCE... doesn't make much sense. But that's the way this area of law is at the moment.

Technically speaking, it would be a very Grinch-y IP holder that would sue over such a "breach of contract", and IMO, with the democratization of video through U-Tube etc, there really needs to be a simple boilerplate license clause rather than all the FUD. It's the kids that get shortchanged in the end when a proper video can't be shot and delivered because of FEAR.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 12:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
and IMO, with the democratization of video through U-Tube etc
What's happening on YouTube in MANY cases has NOTHING to do with democratization: it has to do with THEFT. Deliberate, willfull theft, much as peer to peer file sharing.

And I wish I didn't need to KEEP reading about yours and Steve "squabbles" on here regarding IP.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 12:44 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of the great responses.

This question was asked by a parent and the drama teacher who wasn't sure how copyrighted songs used in dance routines would affect the sale of DVD's to the parents.
They wanted me to record the event, but didn't know if me recording, editing, and selling the DVD's to parents would cause CR problems.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
...
I think what frustrates me about these "limited interest" event videos is that anyone can shoot them for personal use, but there are those (hi Steve) who want to make it an illegal act for someone to put a little effort into delivering a quality documentary result of the EXACT SAME PERFORMANCE... doesn't make much sense. But that's the way this area of law is at the moment.

....
I don't want it to be an illegal act but unfortunately under the current law it often is and one can't unilaterally ignore that because it's not the law you would choose it to be.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 01:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
What's happening on YouTube in MANY cases has NOTHING to do with democratization: it has to do with THEFT. Deliberate, willfull theft, much as peer to peer file sharing.

And I wish I didn't need to KEEP reading about yours and Steve "squabbles" on here regarding IP.
Not me squabbling, Shaun. I only post what I understand the law actually is, what it actually requires. I rarely comment on what I think it ought to be as what we want the law to be is completely irrelevent to how one conducts one's business. One follows the law as it is written, end of story.
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Old August 26th, 2009, 07:11 PM   #9
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I am not "squabbling", only commenting upon the state of copyright law - I see "reasonable exclusions and exceptions" (for instance the recent amateur video using the Chris Brown song - clear infringement, I think we all agree on that 100%, but...). While there's a bit of good natured back and forth, as long as it's civil and thoughtful, I consider Steve's input and viewpoint valuable - we could go for root beers anytime, I'd venture!

And my comment on democratization of video was towards the comoditization of high quality video recording/editing/production GEAR, and the ability to distribute without having a huge company behind you... I agree that like ANY technological revolution, the opportunities for misuse/abuse are ripe. You take the good with the bad, but you have to admit the "rules" have changed.

The easy to grasp exception I see is how a person can legally videotape a performance, but cannot contract to have it done for them (or have the event organizer contract to have a proper documentation done by someone who knows how to do it right). I haven't yet seen an answer to this dilema.

And to anyone here who never EVER breaks "the law as written", more power to ya! With all the laws on the books that's a pretty tough thing to achieve (not just talking copyright here...).

The OP's question was reasonable, I know Steve has his position (which I'd describe as "the letter of the law"), other regular members here have a slightly different interpretation and viewpoint (none of whom advocate piracy or theft, but advocate reasonable and fair "spirit of the law" interpretations).

Given Troy's followup post, I wouldn't be surprised if the use of the songs isn't even "properly" cleared for the performance itself... but that's another can of worms.

The likelyhood of anyone being sued or prosecution occurring is probably quite small - technically a breach of contract and copyright law, but it's about like driving a few over the speed limit, IMO.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 09:17 AM   #10
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wow! That's a lot to take in. However, it appears to be a very gray issue. I guess it's a moral thing and the scale in which the DVD's will be distributed. Meaning, if you're recording a event were a total of ten parents want copies of their kid's performance it's unlikely that they're going to report you to the authorities:-)
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Old August 27th, 2009, 09:32 AM   #11
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The parents might not report you but you never know who else is in attendance. As a casual videographer you'd probably fly under the radar but if you're in business, you're trusting your livelyhood to blind luck.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #12
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... it appears to be a very gray issue. I guess it's a moral thing and the scale in which the DVD's will be distributed...
Wow, I came to exactly the opposite conclusion based on the arguments here. It seems to me there's nothing gray about it and the scale is completely irrelevant, legally. That the question came from the drama teacher says he or she hasn't obtained the rights to use the music at all, so the first violation is there and is pretty clear-cut. The act of taping is probably another level, and the sale of the DVDs is definitely just piling on the violations.

Whether we like it or not, whether it makes sense or not, whether the copyright holder actually benefits or not, if you don't have the right to use the material you can't.

The fact that you can probably get away with it doesn't make it any more legal. Both Dave and Steve are absolutely right. Dave's talking about how things should be, and I agree with him completely, and Steve's talking about the way things are, and I agree with him as well.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 12:59 PM   #13
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That the question came from the drama teacher says he or she hasn't obtained the rights to use the music at all, so the first violation is there and is pretty clear-cut. The act of taping is probably another level, and the sale of the DVDs is definitely just piling on the violations.
Right on. 17 USC Sec 107 DOES allow copying for educational use, so the teacher is not infringing by using a work for teaching purposes. Going beyond educational use to provide copies and/or derivitive works for use by others (even if "just the parents") IS infringement.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 01:27 PM   #14
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Right on. 17 USC Sec 107 DOES allow copying for educational use, so the teacher is not infringing by using a work for teaching purposes. Going beyond educational use to provide copies and/or derivitive works for use by others (even if "just the parents") IS infringement.
Just a note for general info, folks have to be cautious against too liberal an interpretation of "educational use." If we're talking about limited copying or "performance" for actual classroom use, you're absolutely correct. But school plays, concerts, fund-raisers, music at athletic events, all those sorts of uses beyond direct in-classroom teaching purposes still require clearance and licensing even by bona-fide educational institutions. A school could show Citizen Kane in a film history class without paying royalties. But if it shows it as a fund-raiser for the film program, it needs proper licensing.
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Old August 27th, 2009, 04:16 PM   #15
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Well, Troy, there you have it... if things proceed, at least you are reasonably informed.

It is a very frustrating area - I am VERY supportive of "property rights", period, lest anyone misinterpret my position, but as a practical matter most people don't understand or distinguish that the "casual" use of music they believe they bought and "own" creates technical infringement.

I think philosophically I reject any interpretation that makes "everyone" a lawbreaker. There is a necessity for "law and order" to maintain a functioning society, but there is this thing called "common sense" that also needs to come into play... when "the law" or the enforcement/interpretation thereof conflicts with COMMON SENSE, it's irresponsible to fail to speak up.

With the many "laws" out there, it's pretty likely we ALL break a few every day either through ignorance, carelessness, or sometimes knowingly... if the "letter of the law" was the final answer, we'd all be in jail or at least "criminals"... as a practical matter the "spirit of the law" is what I'd venture to say 99.99% of people live by so they can actually function and enjoy life... Speaking of which, Adam and Steve and I are going for a drink now!
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