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Old October 24th, 2010, 02:07 PM   #1
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Cover song and Movie Scene reenactment, Legal Aspect

Hi there,

I am trying to find out the following and I am currently unable to find an answer. I might be able to find it over here, so here is my shot:

I am an Actor (very unknown Actor) and a wannabe filmmaker. And I have the idea to shoot a scene from a popular movie to show part of my range until I have enough material to build my reel. I was thinking about for example doing 2 minutes of the 'Godfather'. Obviously I am not going to make money out of it. But, once when I shoot it:

How can I use it?

I mean, can I put it in youtube for example?

Also, how does this works for a song? Let's say I film and play a U2 song . With my own voice and guitar playing. Can I also put it on youtube?

Any blurb you need to add to the scene or song like, 'This is for educational purposes only' or something along those lines?

I very much appreciate any advice!

Thanks very much!
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Old October 24th, 2010, 09:08 PM   #2
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No, No and No. Copyright protection exists even if you don't make money, and even if you say it's for educational purposes (which it isn't.)

Does that mean you'll get "caught"? No, you probably won't.

Why don't you try doing some original material?
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Old October 25th, 2010, 07:36 AM   #3
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Adding a note to Chis's comments, "educational use" is pretty much confined to materials copied for use in the classroom in an accredited school in grades K-12. Anything else, such as corporate training programs, private career schools, self-improvement seminars, etc, is not considered "education" as far as copyright is concerned.

For the song, you still need to license the music, that is, the melody and words, from the song's publisher. And a further point to clarify, if you film a performance it's NOT a cover. Covers are recordings specifically distributed as a phonorecord, that is, an audio only recording such as a CD. To record a cover you obtain a mechanical license but the mechanical license for a cover not include the use of the music in the soundtrack of a film or video, even if your video is a music video of the song's performance. For that you need a sync license from the music's publisher.
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Last edited by Steve House; October 25th, 2010 at 09:30 AM.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 11:44 AM   #4
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Chris and Steve: Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
No, No and No. Copyright protection exists even if you don't make money, and even if you say it's for educational purposes (which it isn't.)

Does that mean you'll get "caught"? No, you probably won't.

Why don't you try doing some original material?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Adding a note to Chis's comments, "educational use" is pretty much confined to materials copied for use in the classroom in an accredited school in grades K-12. Anything else, such as corporate training programs, private career schools, self-improvement seminars, etc, is not considered "education" as far as copyright is concerned.

For the song, you still need to license the music, that is, the melody and words, from the song's publisher. And a further point to clarify, if you film a performance it's NOT a cover. Covers are recordings specifically distributed as a phonorecord, that is, an audio only recording such as a CD. To record a cover you obtain a mechanical license but the mechanical license for a cover not include the use of the music in the soundtrack of a film or video, even if your video is a music video of the song's performance. For that you need a sync license from the music's publisher.
Hi guys,

Hey, thank you very much for 'teaching' me. That I did not know.

If you are reenacting only 2 minutes of a feature movie... Doesn't that fall under the fair use umbrella?

If you cite it or not?

Thanks again for the info!!
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Old October 26th, 2010, 12:16 PM   #5
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No, there is no magic length below which making a copy becomes legal fair use. Even if it is just a few seconds, a copy is a copy is a copy. The words of the script are copyright and the images of the film you're quoting are copyright. Citations don't matter. Commercial versus non-commercial use doesn't matter. If you copy copyright material you must license it from the copyright owner. Period. The Fair Use exception only covers copies made for the purposes of parody, academic research, classroom education, review and criticism. Weird Al can use recognizable melodies because his works are parody, that is, humorous commentaries, of the original. A broadcaster can show a clip from a new release movie as part of a movie review show without getting permission. A teacher can show a film to a film history class and comment on the production techniques. A university library can make a copy of a film for its archives in the interest of future research. But Fair Use doesn't go much beyond very limited circumstances such as those.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 02:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Weird Al can use recognizable melodies because his works are parody, that is, humorous commentaries, of the original.
It's worth noting that while Weird Al's work may fit the definition of parody under fair use, he still seeks and receives permisson for all of the parody songs he records. If he can't secure the legal rights, he does not proceed with the project.

It's also worth noting that in 1994 the Supreme Court said that parody is only alowed under fair use when it "reasonably could be perceived as commenting on the original or criticizing it". In order words, it's not necessarily "fair use" when you simply make a funny song using somebody else's music.
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Old November 13th, 2010, 02:35 PM   #7
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Ben, you should definitely listen to Steve and Chris. They seem to know what they are talking about when it comes to music licensing. To be more specific...this video would be considered a form of advertisement for yourself since you are showing your abilities as an actor or filmmaker in the hopes of getting hired. If you want to use the Godfather music in your video and post it online you will need to get synchronization, streaming, and performance rights from the master rights holder and publishing rights holder (or holders as there can be up to 9 for a given production). If you play the music yourself you may be able to get a mechanical license and circumvent the master rights holder but will still need to obtain the aforementioned rights from the publishers. I'm not versed in movie rights but I would think you could run into issues with Paramount with a direct remake.

Ultimately, you will do what you will but I think it would be pretty risky infringing on the film and music industry at the same time and then posting that infringement online for the world to see. You might try to get some general use royalty free music that had a Godfather feel. Good luck.

Steve and Chris, not sure who you guys are but thanks for being 2 of the very few people on here that know what they are talking about when it comes to music licensing.

Matt Thompson
President & CEO
Songfreedom.com
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Old November 15th, 2010, 10:39 PM   #8
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Thanks again guys,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
No, there is no magic length below which making a copy becomes legal fair use. Even if it is just a few seconds, a copy is a copy is a copy. The words of the script are copyright and the images of the film you're quoting are copyright. Citations don't matter. Commercial versus non-commercial use doesn't matter. If you copy copyright material you must license it from the copyright owner. Period. The Fair Use exception only covers copies made for the purposes of parody, academic research, classroom education, review and criticism. Weird Al can use recognizable melodies because his works are parody, that is, humorous commentaries, of the original. A broadcaster can show a clip from a new release movie as part of a movie review show without getting permission. A teacher can show a film to a film history class and comment on the production techniques. A university library can make a copy of a film for its archives in the interest of future research. But Fair Use doesn't go much beyond very limited circumstances such as those.
Once again, thank you for teaching me. Very interesting topic and narrowed down to movies and music, it is hard to find that specific information on the net. Very valuable info, hopefully not only for me but for many people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
It's worth noting that while Weird Al's work may fit the definition of parody under fair use, he still seeks and receives permisson for all of the parody songs he records. If he can't secure the legal rights, he does not proceed with the project.

It's also worth noting that in 1994 the Supreme Court said that parody is only alowed under fair use when it "reasonably could be perceived as commenting on the original or criticizing it". In order words, it's not necessarily "fair use" when you simply make a funny song using somebody else's music.
Very nice to know, thanks to you too as well.

Who should you seek and contact to receive permissions to reenact a movie scene? What are the real odds for a Joe like me to get them? If they offer me to pay a fee, will it be most likely a fee a Joe like can pay or a fee a huge studio can pay? Yes, it is up to them, but what would most likely be?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Thompson View Post
Ben, you should definitely listen to Steve and Chris. They seem to know what they are talking about when it comes to music licensing. To be more specific...this video would be considered a form of advertisement for yourself since you are showing your abilities as an actor or filmmaker in the hopes of getting hired. If you want to use the Godfather music in your video and post it online you will need to get synchronization, streaming, and performance rights from the master rights holder and publishing rights holder (or holders as there can be up to 9 for a given production). If you play the music yourself you may be able to get a mechanical license and circumvent the master rights holder but will still need to obtain the aforementioned rights from the publishers. I'm not versed in movie rights but I would think you could run into issues with Paramount with a direct remake.

Ultimately, you will do what you will but I think it would be pretty risky infringing on the film and music industry at the same time and then posting that infringement online for the world to see. You might try to get some general use royalty free music that had a Godfather feel. Good luck.

Steve and Chris, not sure who you guys are but thanks for being 2 of the very few people on here that know what they are talking about when it comes to music licensing.

Matt Thompson
President & CEO
Songfreedom.com

Hey thanks Matt. I appreciate your advice. I definitely listen to them (and you) because you guys certainly know a lot more than I do. But I am here to learn as much as I can and being a public place can make your time and effort become educational for a lot of people. So I very much appreciate your guys sharing your wealth of information. I just used the 'Godfather' as an example but I think your advice applies to any major copyrighted movie.


-----------------------


To Steve, Chris and Matt

About original material.

How can I describe original material? Let me explain you what I mean. I would love to reenact a scene from let's say, using the same example, the 'Godfather'. But then I research online and find out this post. I learn about what you guys said and decided to write and play my own material. So...

If I use that same scene as a template to write my own and chance the characters and make them for example a conversation between two salesmen, changing the words but using the same structure. Let me give you an example:

I am making this up right now for the sake of the explanation and example:

Scene from a major well known classic movie:

Man: Who do you think will deny I conquer this entire empire with less than 7 hundred men?

Scene written by me inspired by that classic movie scene:

Man: Who do you think will believe, I conquered this whole dealership with less than 17 guys?

And then doing the same thing using that 2 minutes scene as a template. Will this still be a copyrighted infringement?

Another question... I found a guy with a youtube channel doing SEVERAL reenactments of famous scenes. Some of them have literally hundred of thousands of views!! He even uses some pieces of the original songs on one of them (I haven't seen all of his work to tell if he also uses music on other scenes). He also has a website and sales t-shirts. He is an aspiring film Actor and promotes himself through youtube and of course his website. I do not know if he does have permission to reenact those scenes, that is why I am not going to post his name and website. But let's say he doesn't, so then he is doing copyright infringement, right? It seems this guy has been doing this for a couple of years now.

So, if I do those reenactments; who can I share those with? Could I put them on youtube or flickr or vimeo and password protect them to share them with my family and friends?


As usual, your input is VERY much appreciated!!

You guys have a great week and a better weekend,
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Old November 16th, 2010, 03:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Tolosa View Post
Another question... I found a guy with a youtube channel doing SEVERAL reenactments of famous scenes.... It seems this guy has been doing this for a couple of years now.
Whenever I drive I see guys zooming past me going well over the speed limit. Does that mean it must be legal, or that they have some special dispensation? No. It's still illegal and it goes on all the time. Occasionally, the police will make an example out of one and pull them over.

It's the same thing with what you're talking about. Just because someone is doing it doesn't make it right. Read the "Will I caught?" sticky at the top of this forum.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 11:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
Whenever I drive I see guys zooming past me going well over the speed limit. Does that mean it must be legal, or that they have some special dispensation? No. It's still illegal and it goes on all the time. Occasionally, the police will make an example out of one and pull them over.

It's the same thing with what you're talking about. Just because someone is doing it doesn't make it right. Read the "Will I caught?" sticky at the top of this forum.
Yes, I agree Chris. And just wanted to thank you for pointing that sticky post. I did not see it before and it was very instructional to me ;)

Have a nice weekend and a better week!!
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