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Old February 16th, 2010, 11:18 PM   #1
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Copyright Protection Question

Starting to do a lot of music videos. With Rap music videos there are several samples being used. As the director do I have any liability for producing a music video for an artist who doesn't own the right to use a sample in there song? How can I protect myself?
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Old February 17th, 2010, 04:08 AM   #2
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A video is an independent project from the artist's song. As producer you are 100% responsibile for what goes into the show you produce. You can protect yourself by not shooting it.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 08:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by G. Lee Gordon View Post
As the director do I have any liability for producing a music video for an artist who doesn't own the right to use a sample in there song?
1. Yes. They're using the samples in their music which violates copyright, and you're using the samples in your video which also violates copyright. You are not insulated from wrongdoing just because someone else did wrong first.

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How can I protect myself?
2. Don't shoot them. There is no release form the band can sign that would hold up in court.

Now in the real world, the most likely outcome is you'll get a cease and desist letter. It's only if you ignore the cease and desist letter that they'll start legal action. However, I personally wouldn't take the chance.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 02:10 PM   #4
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Points well taken. It's just that in all of the copyright lawsuit frenzy's I've never heard of a video director being sued.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 03:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
As producer you are 100% responsibile for what goes into the show you produce. You can protect yourself by not shooting it.
He mentioned that he is the director; which may or may not mean that he's also the producer. If he's working for hire as the director AND he isn't the cause of the band using copyrighted samples AND he is not the distributor, I don't see how someone can actually sue him. If he WAS the producer, presumably he can cover himself by having any band sign off that they have appropriate permission to use any copyrighted material and agree to indemnify him against any legal actions.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 04:00 PM   #6
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Here in the UK, the people who 'produce' the material can be extended to even be duplication firms, for the purposes of copyright action. You can't get a DVD plant to run the job without all the necessary permissions. Sample clearance is also a very annoying thing to have to deal with if there are many!
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Old February 17th, 2010, 08:36 PM   #7
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He mentioned that he is the director; which may or may not mean that he's also the producer. If he's working for hire as the director AND he isn't the cause of the band using copyrighted samples AND he is not the distributor, I don't see how someone can actually sue him. If he WAS the producer, presumably he can cover himself by having any band sign off that they have appropriate permission to use any copyrighted material and agree to indemnify him against any legal actions.
Doesn't work that way. He is creating the video and he is responsible for what's in it. Even if the band has licensed the music and has permission to record it, its presence in a video soundtrack would require a completely separate license obtained directly from the copyright owner by the creator of the video - even if the band has a license to perform/record the music, he is not covered by it when he "repurposes" the music into a video. A sync license is not the same thing as the license to record a cover. The band's indemnity would not protect him from suit, all it does is say that IF he's sued by the music owner and looses, the band will reimburse him for his losses. Fat chance of ever collecting on that. The long and short of it is, if you make a video and copyrighted music occurs in its soundtrack, regardless of how it gets there, you MUST have a sync license from the music composer and/or publisher. Whether the band has a license to perform or record the music is immaterial. In this case obtaining the necessary license is going to be doubly difficult since the band doesn't have one for them to use the music in the first place. Of course, if he COULD get a sync license, it would be legal for the band to perform it for his video since that license allows him to record a new performance of it with his own musicians. Could end up with a situation where the music video was legal but the band's audio recording of it was not.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #8
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Steve, I'm not doubting the fact that a licensee is required. What I'm asking is who's responsible for getting the license and who's liable. Is the production company liable? Is the director responsible?
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Old February 18th, 2010, 05:04 AM   #9
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The OP said he is starting to do a lot of music videos. I'm going on the assumption that means he is a videographer who is being asked or hired by some bands to make a videos of their performances. That makes him the creator of the video and he would have the responsiblity. If the situation is that he has been hired by a video production company in the capacity of director, then the company would be responsible for clearing the music rights. After all, it's not the responsibility of the DP or gaffer to clear music rights either. But I suspect that he IS the "production company." The key point is that the license to use music in a video is a totally separate license from any that the band may, or may not, have obtained to perform or record the music, they can't give permission to use the music in a video even if they have obtained recording licenses themselves, and the OP can't pass the buck back to them saying it's their job to make sure that licenses are in order - as creator of the video it's his.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 12:32 PM   #10
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Is there a difference between being hired by the band to record a performance & being hired to produce a music video?
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Old February 18th, 2010, 02:48 PM   #11
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From what I understand, with regard to liability when the video produced infringes on copyright, no difference.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 03:18 PM   #12
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From what I understand, with regard to liability when the video produced infringes on copyright, no difference.
I thought perhaps it would be regarded as a work for hire in the same way that the guy operating the mixing desk who makes a recording of the gig at the request of the band.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 03:54 PM   #13
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Is there a difference between being hired by the band to record a performance & being hired to produce a music video?
not really...especially if it's cover tunes or includes copyrighted materials. you can record the show but in no way distribute it (online or DVD) without all the permissions being in line. even original material should have all the proper paperwork in line before sending it to the masses. Been in the music industry as a producer/engineer for 20 years now and "CYA" is the biggest PITA but only way to make sure you aren't the precedent-setting case for a lawsuit! If you are unsure of anything...add an entertainment lawyer's consult to your client's invoice and explain that you are making sure everything's legal. Won't cost you that much for peace of mind.
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Old February 19th, 2010, 04:04 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by G. Lee Gordon View Post
Points well taken. It's just that in all of the copyright lawsuit frenzy's I've never heard of a video director being sued.
Please read the sticky

Will I get caught?

Especially Paul Tauger's thougtfull explanations for why you DON'T hear about it.
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