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


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Old November 13th, 2008, 11:52 PM   #1
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Music pricing

I've seen many suggestions on this forum for music to use in wedding videos, ranging from solo artists to soundtrack compositions. I'm curious about a few things though:

1. Once I stick a piece of someone else's music into a video and turn a profit on it, I am infringing on copyright, yes? As a freelance videographer I would not really be so concerned with this, but my assumption is that once you've established a 'DBA' and/or purchased a business license things get a little harrier.

2. If I am infringing on copyright, and it will cause me problems as a business, where do I turn? Do I stick with royalty-free music? If so, does anyone have any good (relatively inexpensive, please) leads on cinematic music? Or, is there a cost-effective way to work licensing of songs into my pricing?

Any insight from business owners is especially appreciated!

Chris
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Old November 14th, 2008, 12:49 AM   #2
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Once you make a copy of music and hand it to someone else, you could be infringing on copyright laws. you do not have to make a profit to infringe. there are several threads concerning wedding videos and copyright laws. and howdy neighbor, I just live an hour down the road from you.
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Old November 14th, 2008, 01:14 AM   #3
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I wish you would have done a search for this before you posted. This topic gets covered every week.
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Old November 14th, 2008, 03:21 AM   #4
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Do a search for "music" and "copyright" and you'll have more posts than you can handle in a single sitting.
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Old November 14th, 2008, 08:55 AM   #5
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Hi Chris,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Glavan View Post
Any insight from business owners is especially appreciated!
Chris
This issue is as old as dirt, but things have happened recently that are a step in the right direction towards compensating the musicians - online movies have started getting tagged with ads by the music publishers if their music has been used. Other than that, at least in the States, there isn't any resolution in sight. Even if all event videographers in the US stopped using music under copyright it wouldn't help the musicians, as there isn't any way for us to compensate them. There's a chance that by using their music more people are exposed to it, which can mean more sales and better concert attendance.

I'd be interested if anyone in the countries I mention in this article (two years old now) can let us know if their system works:

Shhhh! It?s Event Videography?s Dirty Little Secret
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Old November 14th, 2008, 12:28 PM   #6
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I'd be interested if anyone in the countries I mention in this article (two years old now) can let us know if their system works.
The system in the UK basically stills works as you describe: a one-off payment of around ~18GBP per function and a ~5GBP payment per copy of DVD produced (for which you get a holographic sticker for each DVD case!) - assuming several (reasonable) conditions are met, such as private, limited distribution, limited length of dubbed music, etc., etc., but it works for weddings, and allows us in UK to feel we are operating legally.

That's not to say the system isn't full of anomalies and ridiculous assumptions, but it's a lot better than nothing.
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Old November 15th, 2008, 03:58 AM   #7
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I understand the issue of using this music on dvds is old and is "brought up every week", and I thank you all for indulging me.

What I'm chiefly concerned with (and perhaps what I should have stated initially) is this: anyone who clicks the link in my signature will notice that my website is pretty barren and completely bereft of sample videos. I would love to put up the wedding I've shot, and also the video my friend gave me to edit for him, but both couples requested copyrighted music. I really don't want to get slammed for using copyrighted music to generate sales when I'm not compensating the composers- especially since I'm implying that I will in fact use protected music in my edits. I also don't really have the $100/hr to fork over to a lawyer for consultation.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
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Old November 15th, 2008, 06:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Glavan View Post
I've seen many suggestions on this forum for music to use in wedding videos, ranging from solo artists to soundtrack compositions. I'm curious about a few things though:

1. Once I stick a piece of someone else's music into a video and turn a profit on it, I am infringing on copyright, yes? As a freelance videographer I would not really be so concerned with this, but my assumption is that once you've established a 'DBA' and/or purchased a business license things get a little harrier.

2. If I am infringing on copyright, and it will cause me problems as a business, where do I turn? Do I stick with royalty-free music? If so, does anyone have any good (relatively inexpensive, please) leads on cinematic music? Or, is there a cost-effective way to work licensing of songs into my pricing?

Any insight from business owners is especially appreciated!

Chris
Royalty free music that's actually good, not the cheesy elevator music one thinks of as coming from stock libraries, can be licensed at reasonable rates from a variety of sources such as DeWolfe Music and Magnatunes. As an example of the quality of artists they represent, DeWolfe offers a classical library by the London Philharmonic, so it's not like you're paying for a kid down the street plunking out something on his Casio and they offer similar quality in a variety of genres. Magnatunes has a good library as well and are VERY inexpensive to license for low volume use.

The buyout library from Smartsounds offers a wide variety of good music and their free SonicFire Pro software allows you to search and buy fully licensed clips online at very reasonable rates. The software also allows you to remix the tracks to alter their mood and feel, change their tempo, fit them exactly to length by restructuring them internally, and a lot of other useful soundtrack preparation tools. Their CD's range from $50 up to around $200 but you can preview the entire library online and buy individual cuts for the neighborhood of $20.

How to handle the issue of clients who demand you include their favourite music and whether you should do it is a can of worms I won't address. Some people say they need to to stay in business. Some shooters are hard-nosed about not violating copyright and manage to succeed. Most people who, for whatever motive or whether out of lack of knowledge, personally are okay with compromising on respecting copyright law manage to get away with it. Some get caught and lose their shirts. You have to decide where your personal comfort level sits. It does seem to me, though, that even if you would use unlicensed music at a client's insistance, it is really tickling the dragon's tail to do so publically in your website samples as that is clearly commercial advertising use and visible to the general public, about as safe as running a radio station and not paying your ASCAP bill. In an era where RIAA sues grandmothers and 12 year old music downloaders, it's only a matter of time. Plus there's a matter of practical consideration as well. You might have a sample clip from a wedding of a couple who think Willy Nelson is just the cat's meow for walking down the aisle to. But that sample is going to turn off potential customers who can't stand country-western music. The ephemeral nature of pop music can hurt as well as help your marketing. Something that has wide general wide appeal and is in good taste will probably attract the most customers.

A final piece of advice - find the couple of hundred dollars to talk to an intellectual property lawyer to make sure you understand all the pros and cons and can assess the risks nd make decisions hoe to operate from a solid knowledge base. It would be money well spent and IMHO is as much as necessary part of operating the business as is buying tape for your camera.
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Last edited by Steve House; November 15th, 2008 at 07:07 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #9
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Any industry where a majority of the delivered final product is based on an illegal practice is destined to fail. I would reckon 90% of event videographers, including myself when I was doing events, engage in the illegal use of copyrighted music. While I don't think it's right that the music industry hasn't made an affordable way for the legal use of copyrighted music in small run private view video productions, I think the blind eye approach of most videographers is equally to blame for the current situation. If you guys want respect as an industry, this should be talked about not just weekly but daily. This should be THE issue IMO. Trash the dress, cinematic style, doco style, all will be made nill if the Feds come a knockin'.

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Old November 15th, 2008, 08:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Glavan View Post
As a freelance videographer I would not really be so concerned with this, but my assumption is that once you've established a 'DBA' and/or purchased a business license things get a little harrier.
Sidebar to the Royalties discussion, in Canada, a freelancer is in fact Doing Business As, whether it's Shaun Roemich or Gearhead Visual. Legally, I needed to register my business (Me) as soon as I started freelancing for taxation purposes. In fact, as I am a sole proprietor (as opposed to a limited corporation or other entity), my business name is Shaun Roemich with the subtitle Doing Business As Gearhead Visual.

Again, not sure how it works elsewhere but there is s LOT of misinformation about how to LEGALLY operate as a freelancer/business owner. My understanding is the second you start charging tax (and the government will expect you to and FIND you if you don't and/or fail to remit), you need to "legitimize" yourself as a business, at least in Canada. Your mileage may vary...
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Old November 15th, 2008, 09:07 AM   #11
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What I'm chiefly concerned with (and perhaps what I should have stated initially) is this: anyone who clicks the link in my signature will notice that my website is pretty barren and completely bereft of sample videos.
You are wise to not include concrete evidence you've violated copyright on your website. As an alternative, you could re-edit those videos using royalty-free music (I strongly suggest the StackTraxx series from Digital Juice.) You could then put those re-edited videos on your site.

It wasn't that long ago that the RIAA surprised everyone and started busting music downloaders. It would not surprise me if they someday turned their attention toward wedding and event videographers. It would be easy - they'd simply need to view the sample videos found on most videographers websites.

I've taken a pretty strong position that I will not knowingly violate copyright, which means I don't shoot a lot of weddings anymore. That's ok, I like my weekends free!

Fortunately, the theater industry has caught on to this and now includes optional video distribution rights in the performance agreements.
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Old November 15th, 2008, 04:10 PM   #12
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You are wise to not include concrete evidence you've violated copyright on your website. As an alternative, you could re-edit those videos using royalty-free music (I strongly suggest the StackTraxx series from Digital Juice.) You could then put those re-edited videos on your site.
That's a great idea. Also, you don't have to ask clients for music. I don't ask them for music anymore and it's worked out great. This allows you to choose the music and there is nothing wrong with that.
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Old November 16th, 2008, 02:52 PM   #13
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That's a great idea. Also, you don't have to ask clients for music. I don't ask them for music anymore and it's worked out great. This allows you to choose the music and there is nothing wrong with that.
Until you choose a song they really hate, or an ex-boyfriends favourite song etc etc... then you have to re-edit!
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Old November 16th, 2008, 03:09 PM   #14
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Until you choose a song they really hate, or an ex-boyfriends favourite song etc etc... then you have to re-edit!
The point was you don't choose a "song". It's royalty-free music wich you pay for the rights to use.

Our clients know right from the get-go that we don't "fudge" on copyright issues. It hasn't been a deal breaker yet, and most of them appreciate being dealt with squarely.
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Old November 16th, 2008, 03:24 PM   #15
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Until you choose a song they really hate, or an ex-boyfriends favourite song etc etc... then you have to re-edit!
The one in a million times that could happen... I would not mind re-editing.
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