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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old May 12th, 2008, 05:55 AM   #1
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I am not a crook!

This copyright business is getting out of hand!

I was asked to set up a sound system for a Jr.High play last week so everyone could hear the little kiddos in the back row.

The musical ended up being fabulous. This was the most talented group of kids I have ever seen and thought they really deserved to have a quality recording of thier performance.
I offered to tape it for free and give a copy the music director, who could make copies as he wished. I did NOT want to make money on this!
At first he was very appreciative, but then realized he had signed a "No videotaping" clause.

I realize he did the right thing, but I am tired of feeling like a criminal because I want to provide people with quality videos.

Sorry for the rant, but I know there are at least a few people who can relate to this.

MarkG
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Old May 12th, 2008, 07:36 AM   #2
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You wouldn't want the results of your own work to used without your permission or, if you had created it in order to feed your family, without payment of an appropriate fee, would you? How is the publisher of the play or music any different from you? Does the fact he's a corporation and you're just a lone guy with a camera make the difference? You're not a criminal for wanting to provide quality videos to your client but you are being perhaps a bit selfish in expecting to use be able to use other people's property to make those videos without compensating them for it. Perhaps a quick email to the publisher would have otten you the necessary license at a practical cost or even free since it wasn't to be sold. Would have been a couple minutes to send the mail in any case - the worst that could happen is they'd say 'no way.'

Just one opinion
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Old May 12th, 2008, 11:34 AM   #3
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I realize that you do have valid points, Steve. It's just the thought of the publishing company thinking " Now that I have gotten my money by selling them the materials and right to perform the play, now I deserve more money for letting them watch thier own performance on tape!"

I would be furious if someone took my work, proceeded to butcher it, and then played it on TV for the world to see.

Or

If someone made a substantial amount of money selling DVD's without me getting a peice of the action.

There is a definate need for laws to exist to protect stuff like this. I just am speechless at the thought of a publishing company not wanting to let a kid see how he performed after putting so much work into it.

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Old May 12th, 2008, 02:29 PM   #4
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Mark -
Yes, it's gotten rediculous. I offered to shoot my son's play and let the school sell DVD's as a fundraiser (schools seem to be short on $$ and a DVD of your child's performance seems a lot more tangible and "valuable" than a muffin/cookie). They were concerned if someone didn't want their kid videotaped (?!) and have signed releases they might have a problem... never heard that before, but I guess paranoia has taken firm hold in the land of the free and we can't even do the most simple of things without fear of legal reprisal... sigh.

I just went and shot the thing as a parent, simple multicam setup on a tripod, came out awesome, and my 6 year old will have something that he can be proud of...

FWIW, lots of other tiny little LCD screens can be seen all over the room, undoubtedly wobbling all over the place, and probalby half the quality of what I shot... I'd bet that the school could have made a nice bit of pocket change making available to those parents a quality version of what they themselves were shooting... something to send to the Grandparents and whatnot...

We are at a strange moment in time, to be sure. Digital media is becoming pervasive and democratized, but our copyright system and mindset is firmly lodged in the 1800's with not a sensible approach in sight for these small one time special events, the EXACT thing people want to record and remember... and will probably watch a couple times...

To me it's obvious that people have the right to make their own recordings/videos, etc., and that they don't have the right to "profit" from them per se in the sense of commercially mass marketing them. AND YET, doesn't one have the right to share their own experiences and special moments with family/friends/relatives??? Just not if you pay someone to do a nice video of it for you??? Makes ZERO sense... Same event, same "value", same limited "market"... but if you pay someone to do it right, you and they are a "criminal"... HMMM...

What I see is a need for either a relatively simple contract clause from the copyright holder(s) allowing for certain limited reproduction rights to a purchaser of their copyrighted work - something allowing for a professional to video tape and distribute "X" number of DVD's of an event for instance, or use "X" instances of a song for sync to a video for limited personal distribution.

You're typically looking at under 500 pieces, very limited marketability and interest, so it'd have to be pretty reasonable... what do radio stations pay to broadcast a song to thousands of listeners??? A few pennies? There's a need for the copyright holder to protect their IP, but what REAL value is there in the "aftermarket" unless you're talking about HUGE performances/artists?

I suppose some industrious sort could also create a system for a yearly flat fee from content creators, divided among copyright holders... but I suspect that the copyright holder would be better served by looking after their own interests with a simple contract clause?

There's a HUGE opportunity for wise copyright holders to make a little extra by opening the doors to the event videography market in a "user friendly" way... but then there's the "internet broadcast" issue that raises it's ugly head... No wonder there's a lot of confusion!!

Just some random thoughts on a sticky wicket! Common sense needs to enter in at some point in time...
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Old May 12th, 2008, 02:43 PM   #5
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Who knows - if it was explained to the publisher courteously that the resulting videos would be given to the parents at cost rather than sold and not distributed further, they might be amenable to a very low cost or even no-cost license. Been known to happen. But it is their property and they have the right to be as generous or as stingy with it as they feel like, just like you do with yours. By your argument, they shouldn't make a profit on selling the script materials or the performance licensing either, since it's a bunch of cute little kids putting on the play instead of a big, rich, Broadway producer like Max Bialystock. I'd certainly agree that it should be simpler and some sort of limited use licensing for music such as they have in Australia is way overdue but I really don't have a problem with the publisher controlling when or if performances of their materials are videotaped or what and where music they've produced is used for and what it isn't.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 03:23 PM   #6
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possibly the performance (music, choregraphy,instructions, costumes) is sold as a package and videotaping could be enough for other people to reproduce the performance without purchasing the package.
Basically these guys are protecting their ideas, not the application of the idea (i am pretty sure they do not care how good the kids perform on scene)
there is a principle in copyright that says if you do not put some effort in protecting it, it could be void by some guy claiming it is now public.
there are so many case like this that some people go paranoid about that.
I would understand if you propose to do it for free, but as you said yourself " I'd bet that the school could have made a nice bit of pocket change making available to those parents " is a good reason why they could go paranoid.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 03:51 PM   #7
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I agree that things are out of wack. People usually make the argument "what about YOUR work?". Well, if someone wants to take a wedding video I've created and cut a part out of it for use in a documentary about weddings and they are going to be selling thousands of copies of the documentary, then yeah, I think they should talk to be about licensing the clip.

On the other hand, if a college student is doing a project about weddings to show to a class of students and uses a clip of mine, all I want is credit for the clip. Let's say he makes copies of his project available to the students at a price. I still don't care. Granted he's taken some of my work and he's making money with it, but the amount is so small and the role that my clip played in the project is so small that it just doesn't bother me.

I know what the law is ... I just think it's severely outdated for where media is at now.

Honestly I feel the same way about not being allowed to photograph art at a gallery. Unless my goal is to recreate the piece exactly and sell it for profit, what's the big deal? I mean, I paid to view the art, and now I simply want pictures of it so I can enjoy it again later in life. The art in the gallery will change over time, so I don't have the option of just going back again.

Same goes for attending a sporting event. My wife and I love hockey, and we make date nights out of it. They are very strict at the arena about taking pictures or video. So we don't get to capture the memory of us at the game? It's just dumb.

There is definitely too much paranoia these days ...
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Old May 12th, 2008, 03:51 PM   #8
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I do think these publishers should make some "real life" exceptions as part of their contract.

For example, our church (and almost every other church in the USA) is a member of CCLI. Our license allows us to not only perform songs at our church, but it also contains provisions for recording and limited distribution of church services, which may (probably will) contain copyright works. Their restrictions are very easy to live with, yet still allow us freedom. These publishers need to adopt a similar set of rules.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 05:29 PM   #9
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Giroud wrote
"there is a principle in copyright that says if you do not put some effort in protecting it, it could be void by some guy claiming it is now public."

I knew there was a reason I hang out here! This is something I was not aware of, thanks for posting this little tidbit.

It does clear things up a little bit. It sounds a little like a weird property law that says that if you let people trespass on a peice of property over a certain length of time, then you may lose rights to it. So you have to put up a "No Trespassing" up once a year.(this may not apply to all states)

So, I have revised my opinion of these publishers. They are not exactly EVIL, just MEAN!

I do realize that I might have gotten permision if I contacted them, but I only had a few hours until the second show started.


My apologies to all the people putting up with yet another stupid "copyright" thread, but it seems like until something changes, this issue is going to continue to rear is ugly head. I am saddened when I read posts from people who have gotten out of event videography because of ridiculous copyright restrictions. I realized as I was mulling this topic over, that I was breaking the law every time I videotaped a wedding due to the fact that every ceremony had at least some music involved in it! Even if you use legal music for the recap and background music, can you imagine muting the sound when the music started for the bridal procession, or when someone sang a special song.


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Old May 12th, 2008, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
...People usually make the argument "what about YOUR work?". ...., if a college student is doing a project about weddings to show to a class of students and uses a clip of mine, all I want is credit for the clip. Let's say he makes copies of his project available to the students at a price. I still don't care. Granted he's taken some of my work and he's making money with it, but the amount is so small and the role that my clip played in the project is so small that it just doesn't bother me.

...
Honestly I feel the same way about not being allowed to photograph art at a gallery. Unless my goal is to recreate the piece exactly and sell it for profit, what's the big deal? I mean, I paid to view the art, and now I simply want pictures of it so I can enjoy it again later in life. The art in the gallery will change over time, so I don't have the option of just going back again.

Same goes for attending a sporting event. My wife and I love hockey, and we make date nights out of it. They are very strict at the arena about taking pictures or video. So we don't get to capture the memory of us at the game? It's just dumb.

...

Part of the reason for restricting photography in art galleries and museums has nothing to do with copyright. Flash is very high in UV and the cumulative exposure to hundreds of flashes can seriously damage some materials, especially dyes. There's a major problem right now with the deterioration of tomb paintings in Egypt, partly due to the humidity from visitor's breathing and partially due to the UV damage from photography and filming. Add to that the trip hazard as people jockey for position with cameras glued to their eyes or try to setup a tripod and many venues will restirct photography just to secure the physical safety of the collection and their patrons.

There's nothing in the copyright law that prevents you from being as generous with your permission for others to use your work as you want to be. Just put a 5 or 10 second billboard at the start of your program that says "You are welcome to use portions of this program up to xx seconds in length in your own production as long as credit is given for the source" or whatever provisions you wish to set. That's the whole thing behind the Creative Commons licensing idea - a way to protect your interest in the results of your work while allowing others easy access to use it legitimately. The things is, as your property and the fruit of your labors, you and you alone have the right to allow or refuse permission to others to use it. Some people seem to feel that they have a right to use others work just because they really, really want to badly and it hasn't been kept under lock and key somewhere - I just don't see that as an ethical position. I may not agree with the reason why someone refuses me but they have the absolute right to do so and I have the absolute obligation to respect their choice.
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Old May 12th, 2008, 05:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Part of the reason for restricting photography in art galleries and museums has nothing to do with copyright. Flash is very high in UV and the cumulative exposure to hundreds of flashes can seriously damage some materials, especially dyes.
I didn't realize that was one of the reasons. Good point.

That does remind me of a local art gallery, though. They open the venue to weddings, and I've shot several weddings there. Each time I'm instructed to make sure none of the art appears on film. That seems pretty ridiculous to me.

They open the venue and allow a couple to have their wedding there (knowing full well that weddings are typically filmed and photographed), with art all over the walls and hanging from the ceiling and whatnot, and yet I'm somehow supposed to film the event without capturing any of it on film? Yeah ... right.

I really just think people have gotten too cynical and paranoid. There just needs to be some revision in the laws to allow for limited use of media. If a couple wants to videotape their wedding and set all of the best moments of it to their favorite song, for themselves to enjoy, they should be allowed to do that (or pay someone to do it for them). Same goes for a 5-year-old dance class. The parents should be allowed to film it (or pay someone to film it) so that they can enjoy it later in life. There needs to be a line drawn for what constitutes commercial use versus personal use, and personal use should be exempt from the copyright laws.
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Old May 13th, 2008, 04:58 AM   #12
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...
They open the venue and allow a couple to have their wedding there (knowing full well that weddings are typically filmed and photographed), with art all over the walls and hanging from the ceiling and whatnot, and yet I'm somehow supposed to film the event without capturing any of it on film? Yeah ... right.

...There needs to be a line drawn for what constitutes commercial use versus personal use, and personal use should be exempt from the copyright laws.
Perhaps you're a victim of your own expertise here. The gallery knows that Uncle Furdinkle's photos are going to look like c**p and so they don't worry about it but your's will actually look like "keepers" and they'd rather people buy the exhibit catalog if they want a momento.

Personal use .... that's the thing. "Personal use" means "for yourself." Photos or videos you shoot for other people, whether it's a full-time sucessful business or a part-time hobby 'business' that just bills enough to cover cost or even works only for the passion of it (to cover both ends of the spectrum), whether you have a huge customer base or just shoot the occasional gig, isn't "personal use." Personal use is what you do in the privacy of your own home solely for consumption by yourself and your family - you make it yourself purely for your own enjoyment. Videos you shoot of your summer vacation are personal use, video you shot of your friends wedding as a gift for them isn't. And anything you derive any revenue or reimbursement for certainly isn't. The only time the wedding would be "personal use" is if you kept the video for yourself for you and your family's viewing only. Shoot video your kid's school play that you keep as a family momento, it's personal use. But give copies to the other parents and it's no longer personal use - it's public distribution, albeit a relatively small public. And if any money changes hands, even just reimbursing you for the tape, it's public commercial distribution. Essentially if you do anything with it outside of your immediate household it's no longer personal. Whether your audience is just your buddy and his new wife or the tens of millions queing up to see "Ironman," it's the same thing - public publishing and distribution and all the rights issues kick in. Arguments based on the scale of distribution are like the old joke about the fellow who asked the girl next to him at the bar if she'd sleep with him for 10 thousand dollars ... the punch line is "now we're just haggling over price." <grin>
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Last edited by Steve House; May 13th, 2008 at 08:15 AM.
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Old May 13th, 2008, 06:52 AM   #13
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this has to do with breach of contract - nothing to do with copyright law
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Old May 13th, 2008, 11:40 AM   #14
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Personal use .... that's the thing. "Personal use" means "for yourself." Photos or videos you shoot for other people, whether it's a full-time sucessful business or a part-time hobby 'business' that just bills enough to cover cost or even works only for the passion of it (to cover both ends of the spectrum), whether you have a huge customer base or just shoot the occasional gig, isn't "personal use."
And this is where I completely disagree with the current law. It's outdated.

There should be no difference if I bring my camera to film a school play for my own viewing pleasure ... or if I decide to pay someone to film it for me for my own viewing pleasure. The end result is absolutely no different (other than the quality of the product). In the end, I'm still watching it in my own home as a "personal use' product. It makes no sense to allow one method of creating the peronsal use product and not the other.
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Old May 13th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #15
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That's exactly my point as well, there's a strange "no man's land" here where the exact same event, the exact same content, the same limited "audience", and for all practical purposes the same recording, is legal in one instance, and "illegal" in another.

It is rather bizzare if someone, for convenience or desire for a better result or whatever, chooses to hire an "event videographer" for his/her SERVICES to record/memorialize an event thereby somehow criminalizing themselves and the videographer.

In fact, this defense certainly holds some merit if one were sued. The law is intended to protect others from "injury", but where is the injury and damage?? What about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"??

I can understand the need to imprison and flog someone going into a theater and pirating "Ironman" with a handy cam and selling bootlegs - there's OBVIOUS injury and damage there to the copyright holder (and other than getting a bad copy before you can buy it for $5-15 bucks when released on DVD, WHY would you buy the stupid bootleg???). Maybe stupidity should be outlawed...

I understand the concept of a copyright holder needing to protect their rights under current law, and I suppose that "logically" leads to suing granny for grandaughter downloading a few dozen songs on her computer... but doesn't that in the end BACKFIRE?? Anyone notice how loved the RIAA is?? And how the "music biz" has been in the dumps??

There's LOGIC, and then there's COMMON SENSE... One is practised by lawyers and academics, the other by the rest of the population who would just like to "get along"... living, having reasonable rights and pursuing happiness. Not to mention being able to have their favorite song on a special video of their special day, or being able to buy a copy of their favorite movie or song for a reasonable price...

As a practical matter, there are constitutional issues when law makes one a criminal for no apparent reason... eventually this will have to be addressed, no doubt.

My suggestion for a simple contract clause, and what Steve mentioned (Creative Commons licensing) addresses the problem directly and practically for the content creator in the meantime.

A copyright holder should have the right to deny use if he wishes (protect his private property), license it for free under certain circumstances (allowing fair and reasonable use and enjoyment to others, with credit to the copyright holder), and charge a reasonable fee for use where appropriate (rent/lease/sell/license a specific right for a specific use/purpose).

Obviously a copyright holder gets NOTHING from unreasonably withholding their "work" from others (or suing someone for reasonable use), and has little incentive to do so, BUT also has a vested interest in protecting their property and profiting from it. You CAN'T be a "popular" artist if you won't let anyone see or enjoy your work!!

The challenge here is BALANCE. I've met people who think they have "the next big thing", but are so blinded by the potential $$, they choke it off before it even has a chance...

In this case we have a valuable service (videography) which may or may not be breaking the law, but even the question creates a serious choke point (witness the frequent copyright threads here). Unlike the "everything should be free" types, we're addressing the day to day mechanics of dealing with IP that may be captured by our cameras/recording equipment while shooting video, and it's a bloody mess, or at least potentially is, if someone gets their nose out of joint and hires a sleazy attorney to make their point.

Good discussion, now if we can just figure out the answer and contact our representatives... getting back to life, etc.!
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