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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old June 7th, 2007, 07:45 AM   #1
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Music copyright issues with Dance Recital

I videotaped a childrens dance recital and the client is selling the DVD's to parents.

All music used was copyrighted. Could I get in trouble for this?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:14 AM   #2
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To answer your direct question - "COULD I get in trouble for this?" The answer would be 'Yes'.

Your unstated question "WILL I get in trouble for this?" cannot be answered definitively, but if I were a betting man, I'd say no.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 02:45 PM   #3
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Just read another thread on this. Technically "yes" but the chances of it happening are very very slim. I'm not saying its right and that its ok to do it again but there aren't clear cut ways to obtain the rights and clear yourself which puts many people on a fine line and make their own personal decision.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:36 PM   #4
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If you are hired to shoot a performance then you are a tool for that client to get it done. Just like the cameras and NLE are tools to get it done. The client is the one that should have all of the legal clearances taken care of and not the contractor. Should the manufacturers of the production gear that you used be held liable since their products assisted in the alleged copyright infringement?
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #5
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So I guess it depends on whether Scott is hired as video producer or cameraman/editor. A written contract between Scott and his client should be able to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of each party, right? Likewise, credits on the DVD should identify who the producer is so that anyone who feels like starting a lawsuit knows who to go after.

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Old June 8th, 2007, 04:17 PM   #6
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I don't know if what I said is official but it's just my opinion. This has been discussed at length in this thread and could possibly be argued forever.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 06:35 AM   #7
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There is no way to overdubb "royalty free" music on a dance performance, for obvious reasons, it wouldn't sync up.

I'm a paid contractor who is shooting/editing the event. I didn't produce the recital and I didn't pick the music.

If you go after the videographer, you might as well sue the school for allowing a performance to occur using copyrighted material.

My guess is that the client has the end responsibility to clear the music before selling the DVD.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 07:23 AM   #8
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Scott you bring up some good points.

And you are right. You might as well sue the school.

And belive me, it happens.

I know, my wife is an IP attorney. Schools and churches get sued for perfroming plays, and using music that they don't have the copyright to. It's a selective process... because they can't sue everyone. Just like it's a selective process who the cop stops for speeding. They try and get the most egregious ones.

Yes, as a 'contract employee', you - the videographer/editor have LOWER liability than the producer. Less likely to be pulled into a lawsuit than the person who is SELLING and distributing the product and therefore making money off of someone else's copyright.

You see how different people are presenting different sides and arguments validating their points of view in this thread? Well, basically that's the process that would take place in front of a judge and jury, who would then decide who's right and where the liability falls. Of course, you'd be paying for someone to argue for you on your behalf.

Like I said, "Could" you get in trouble? Yes. "WILL" you get in trouble? Doubt it.
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Old June 15th, 2007, 06:28 AM   #9
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I was just looking into this for a friend.
According to Ascap and BMI the responsibility falls to the owner of the dance company or school. They have "dance school" blanket licenses that cover use of music for practice and one or two recitals a year.


That same music included on DVD's for sale may be outside of their jurisdiction, depending upon how it appears, and falls to the publishing company. I'm pretty sure a dance school license does not include inclusion on for-sale products.

Of course, with a big enough law suit on the table, all of this goes out the window.

I would include a contract line about rights clearance being the responsibility of the client.
But like Richard points out, nothing is 100%.
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Old June 15th, 2007, 07:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reid Bailey View Post
...
I would include a contract line about rights clearance being the responsibility of the client.
But like Richard points out, nothing is 100%.
I am not a lawyer ...

As far as I know, that contract line does nothing to protect you. Any contract provision that is contrary to law is immediately void.

I think this sort of thing would depend on one's role in the process. If all you did was operate the camera and turned the raw tapes over to the client, you'd be in the clear - your role is one of technician rather than a creative responsible for content. But if you edited it and assembled the final program, now you're the producer or a co-producer and would be liable for the content.
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Old June 15th, 2007, 02:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reid Bailey View Post
I would include a contract line about rights clearance being the responsibility of the client.
That's what I did in this post but I'm not saying it's official. It should be though, because all it does is clearly document that the event producer has taken care of the proper licensing and can't deny it later.

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... But if you edited it and assembled the final program, now you're the producer or a co-producer and would be liable for the content.
All of this is just ridiculous. So, if I'm an employee working as an editor for a company that edits and produces a final product for one of these events, I'm liable because I am the one that cut it together? Anyone that would bring suite against the contractors and not the event producer needs to get a life!
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Old June 15th, 2007, 07:14 PM   #12
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"Anyone that would bring suite against the contractors and not the event producer needs to get a life!"

For some people, filing lawsuits at the request of their clients IS their life. Look, any decent lawyer will NEVER tell you you CAN'T be sued - they'll just tell you 'your exposure', the likelihood of getting sued. That's all we're talking about here. Yeah, you have 'some' exposure... not a lot, but some. You're trying to reduce it, good for you. The exact relationship between you and the person hiring you would enter into assessing the ammount of your exposure. That's the way it works.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 02:11 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by James Emory View Post
That's what I did in this post but I'm not saying it's official. It should be though, because all it does is clearly document that the event producer has taken care of the proper licensing and can't deny it later.

All of this is just ridiculous. So, if I'm an employee working as an editor for a company that edits and produces a final product for one of these events, I'm liable because I am the one that cut it together? Anyone that would bring suite against the contractors and not the event producer needs to get a life!
Depends on whether you're an employee of the company that is producing the stage performance, or an employee of a company that was hired to produce the video, or a contractor engaged in your own right to produce the video. If you were an employee, you're safe - employees carry out their duties at the direction of their employer and the employer is the one liable. An editor working under the direction of a producer in a film company or a TV station to "cut it together" would fall into that category. So if all the producers of the performance did was hire you to come in and run a camera, you're probably safe.

But an independent videographer hired on a per job contract basis to shoot, edit, and assemble the final program is a different ballgame - most probably he's not going to be considered an employee. One way to tell is when you're paid at the end of the job, do you get a payroll cheque with taxes withheld and a W2 at the end of the year or do you get a cheque paid against an invoice and perhaps a 1099 at the of the year. W2 = employee, event producer responsible for content. 1099 = not an employee, you're responsible for content. (Richard: I wonder if a contract provision making it a "work for hire" might effect that?) One of the characteristics of being a contractor is that you work independently without your client's direct supervision and are responsible for the end result. If the show's producers hired you to come in and make a video for them, then you are the producer of the video program and are the one ultimately responsible for its content, both picture and sound, and not your client. In a manner of speaking you're a retail merchant creating a customized product and selling the result to your client and the customers he's brought to you just like any other merchant in the marketplace sells a product.

Because the rights for performance and the rights for syncronization are separate rights, it's perfectly possible for the event producer to be completely legal in his use of the music for the stage performance while any use of it in the video of the performance is not.
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Last edited by Steve House; June 16th, 2007 at 06:37 AM.
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Old June 16th, 2007, 07:22 AM   #14
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Steve,

You've brought up a few of the points that might come into play IF someone wanted to sue. What was the nature of the relationship with the producer? Employee? Work for Hire? Independent Contractor?

Like I said, I think - based on the description given - he has some exposure. Not a lot.

My point is, a lot of people posting "Will I get sued if I do this?" questions, really don't want the truth. "Yeah, it's possible." But possible is not the same as probable, or even likely. IT all boils down to personal ethics and risk assumption.

Resale/redistribution of unauthorized copyright material is illegal. That's the truth.

"Little guys" do get caught and sued on occasion. That's the truth. It's done to protect rights and establish precedent.

There are LONG threads and sticky posts that go over and over this exact same question. Sure, there are 'grey areas' of the law - that's called job security for attorneys. I'm married to a copyright/trademark attorney, and I watch her deal with both sides of the issue, so I've SEEN examples of both sides.

It's not really worth it to me, but hey there's always Dirty Harry's line, "You got to ask yourself punk, do you feel lucky???"
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Old June 16th, 2007, 07:54 AM   #15
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Licensing

A number of very interesting points raised-- thanks guys.
You might find these links of interest:
http://www.harryfox.com/public/FAQ.jsp

http://www.harryfox.com/songfile/faq.html#faq3
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