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Old August 11th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #1
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Freeplay is coming...

I just received an email that said (in part):

"It has come to our attention that our copyrighted music is being used without our permission in your organization's web content...Since your organization does not have an agreement with our company, any unlicensed use of the Freeplay Music library in your organization's web content infringes on our copyrights and violates other of our rights. However, in an effort to resolve this issue in an expeditious manner without the need for further cost to either party, we would be willing to provide a retroactive license fee of $1000"

Fortunately, this was not on my website nor was it related to a video I produced. I used to attend this church and I registered the domain name for them nearly 10 years ago, which is why my email address was still associated with the admin record for the domain.

The pastor apparently played a video during his sermon that Freeplay Music in it. The audio from that video (probably pulled from YouTube) was recorded along with the sermon and placed on the church website. Because of that, the church is on the hook for $1000.

Now I don't blame Freeplay Music. This email was probably generated by a web-crawling robot. I also believe the church was wrong in posting the audio portion of this video online (although it was simply because the sound guy let the recorder roll from beginning to end of the sermon and never gave the content a second thought.)

I just think this is a good reminder for all of us. Whether you use Freeplay, or popular music from iTunes, or you just recorded from the soundboard at the dance recital - the technology is out there to sniff out this unauthorized use. You could find yourself on the receiving end of one of these notices.
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Old August 12th, 2012, 04:37 PM   #2
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
Fortunately, this was not on my website nor was it related to a video I produced. I used to attend this church and I registered the domain name for them nearly 10 years ago, which is why my email address was still associated with the admin record for the domain.
Whether or not playing the video clip in church falls under fair use for commentary, criticism or teaching, it is better to stay out of this. Freeplay should have confirmed you are the responsible party before sending the letter. A letter that falsely states you have violated licensing requirements and requests money could damage your professional reputation and business. Don't forward the letter because you would be forwarding something with factual errors that might damage your business.

I suggest contacting Freeplay to inform them that you are neither the owner of the website nor has your company been involved in any way with the production of the video which they mention. Also request that Freeplay formally retracts your name and email address from their letter so the errors contained within don't damage your professional reputation and business.

Second, contact the owner of the website to request they fix the bookkeeping errors in the registration records. If your name is listed in the registration records of other websites that you do not own, these errors need to be addressed as well.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 04:50 AM   #3
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

An FYI, just so you know. The fact it's a church-made video and the music was used as part of a service does not toss the music usage under the Fair Use umbrella. While churches do not have to worry about copyright on music they use in an actual worship service, as soon as that service is recorded or broadcast they have to pay attention to obtaining proper license clearances and making the necessary performance royalty payments to any copyroghted music the same as any other person or business would..
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Old August 13th, 2012, 09:51 AM   #4
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

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Originally Posted by Eric Olson View Post
...contact the owner of the website to request they fix the bookkeeping errors in the registration records. If your name is listed in the registration records of other websites that you do not own, these errors need to be addressed as well.
I think Eric has touched on a worrisome point: your name is listed as the owner. Now you're in the position of proving that you bear no responsibility for some infringing content on a web site located on "your" domain. I'd guess this is a common enough situation that it there is some precendent out there and the intent for the church to own the domain could be established, but then again it may well take some time, money, and effort to document to the satisfaction of the infringed company, or a court, that you aren't responsible for a domain that you are listed as owning. I suspect that is something you'll need to do in coordination with the church rather than just telling them to handle it. How are they renewing the domain in your name, BTW?
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Old August 13th, 2012, 02:14 PM   #5
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
An FYI, just so you know. The fact it's a church-made video and the music was used as part of a service does not toss the music usage under the Fair Use umbrella.
Right, music and anything which is part of the worship service needs clearance. However, the pastor's sermon is more like a educational news program in the middle of church. Under fair use there is much more freedom when showing video clips for commentary and analysis. The real problem is how to deal with Freeplay sending their letter to the wrong person.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 02:37 PM   #6
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Olson View Post
Right, music and anything which is part of the worship service needs clearance. However, the pastor's sermon is more like a educational news program in the middle of church. Under fair use there is much more freedom when showing video clips for commentary and analysis. The real problem is how to deal with Freeplay sending their letter to the wrong person.
"Educational Use" in the Fair Use provisions are limited to using the materials for classroom instruction in grades K-12 or accredited colleges and universities. Other sorts of "education" such as adult education, job training, religious instruction, etc, don't count. In fact, other non-classroom instructional uses such as fund raising BY an educational institution are not considered educational uses either. A church service or the preacher's sermon isn't education in the eyes of copyright law, no matter how educational the preacher might feel it is.

Since his name is still on the domain registration, I wonder if Freeplay did actually send their demand letter to the wrong person. Legally he might still be on the hook for everything that goes up on the site - the responsibility buck for what goes up on the site stops with him as the owner of record. He needs to get it transferred to the folks who took over the actual site management post haste.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 03:06 PM   #7
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

Actually my name is not on record as the owner of the site or domain. Only my email address was on the administration record (and that has been rectified.) Everything else had the church/pastor's name.

My intent in posting this info was to warn other videographers here (especially those that think it's ok to use copyright music without permission) that technology is being used to search the web and find infringing materials.

On a sidenote... when I used to attend this church, it would bother me when the pastor would offer to "burn" me a copy of a CD, or ask if I'd make him a copy of a DVD. I'd point out that was illegal, and he'd kind of brush me off saying it was no big deal. That makes me wonder if this is some sort of karma!
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Old August 13th, 2012, 05:29 PM   #8
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Re: Freeplay is coming...

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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
"Educational Use" in the Fair Use provisions are limited to using the materials for classroom instruction in grades K-12 or accredited colleges and universities.
I was comparing the sermon to a newscast. There is a possibility the pastor would be protected under fair use for criticism and commentary. Without further information it is difficult to predict. The main point of my original post was to make sure in writing that Freeplay fixes their errors and the church fixed theirs so Chris's business is not affected. It is good that his name is not on record as the owner of the website.

Last edited by Eric Olson; August 13th, 2012 at 07:34 PM.
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