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Old March 26th, 2009, 02:04 PM   #1
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Question: Music legal issues?

Hello all!

This may have been asked before, but a semi-hasty search did not find it.

My question is concerning the use of music in the edited version of wedding videos. I would assume that the way one should always go is to use royalty free music, or music you have purchased the rights to. However, I have seen advertisements for videography services more than once that say the client gets to choose the music.

Are there legal issues with this if the client chooses music you do not have the rights to? I am fairly certain that this use of music would not fall under the category of fair use, but perhaps I'm wrong.


Thanks in advance for your help/input!!

-Mike Cordes
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Old March 26th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #2
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Search a little more, there are plenty of posts on this topic.

I've said before in this forum that as the laws currently stand in the USA, wedding video is illegal.

*Unless* the B&G select only public domain music (and arrangements) to be performed during the ceremony, and you provide only royalty-free music for the montages.

When the soloist sings "I Swear" and you record it for the DVD, you have broken the law. When the B&G's first dance is "I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing" and you record it for the DVD, you have broken the law. When you create a montage of the bridesmaids and sync it to the bride's favorite song "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)", you have broken the law.

It's not a matter of creating wedding video within in the bounds of the law, it's a matter of how much stomach you have for ignoring those laws.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #3
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AND there's the "incidental" capture argument, but not if you're mixing to a specific music track...

This has been discussed quite a bit, and a search should find plenty of OPINIONS, you'll have to decide yourself exactly how strictly copyright law applies (and different countries are different too... keep that in mind) - there are links on one of the threads to the actual US copyright codes which are enlightening, and might offer you some "loopholes" if you read very carefully (and with a creative mind).

Keep in mind anyone can sue for anything, and the costs may exceed anything you could imagine, even if you win. In a litigious society, the only "winners" are the lawyers.

IP law is a sort of a mess, but I think the question one should ask is how would you feel if someone "borrowed" a significant portion of YOUR creative work without offering to compensate or even credit you? If you wouldn't want someone "borrowing" your work, you shouldn't be "borrowing" theirs... or you should seek permission, but that's a whole nother ball of cheese...
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Old March 26th, 2009, 03:14 PM   #4
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Old March 26th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
AND there's the "incidental" capture argument
"I just HAPPENED to be pointing a live camera at the soloist, and she just HAPPENED to be singing a song protected by copyright, and I just HAPPENED to have a digital recorder plugged into the sound system..."

I can imagine how far you'd get with the "incidental" argument. ;)

I firmly believe after the RIAA tires of suing grandmothers and toddlers for file sharing, they're going to start googling videographer websites and sending out collection notices.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #6
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I was filiming a WEDDING, there hapened to be a soloist there singing some song (off key I might add), which comprised less that 2% of the total package I delivered... I delivered 10 DVD's to the client.

Prove the damages to the original "artist"... and prove the intent to infringe. You CAN'T. An artful attorney could certianly argue it, as they can argue the sky is not blue or a mass murderer is innocent, but selling it to a jury is another matter.

<rant mode on>
I see your point, the RIAA has been pretty nasty in their pursuits, but such anti-social behavior becomes repulsive, and they have the nerve to ask why sales are down, and they can't "sell" their product... If Chevy came back every time you drove your car (or let's see, put it in a video of your family... or your "car show" video that you shot and made a few copies for your fellow car addicts...) begging for more $$$, you think they'd sell very many vehicles?

There is a point of absurdity, and one must have a TRULY strong stomach to choke down some of the arguments made when this topic comes up. Calling every videographer a law breaker is like saying everyone who drives is a criminal because they sometimes exceed the speed limit. Factually, you'd be "correct" (maybe), but practically speaking with all the "laws" we have, odds are we are ALL breaking a few of them every day... ONLY when it becomes a legal issue (like when you get a speeding ticket), is it even a salient question, and some judge tries to find a "fair" solution. This is how "fair use" doctrines have evolved, as well as "incidental" and other defenses.

I'm not going to argue that using a music track as a sound track to your video production is advisable, especially when it can end up on a video site with mass distribution (and this is where the REAL danger lies, IMO). I could argue it from certian aspects when you produce a personal video for private use, and the person(s) it was created for owned the rights to play those tracks... and the "defense" might fly...

WE live in a digital age where almost anything can be replicated in some form quickly and cheaply in 1's and 0's, unlike a very short time in the past. IP law really hasn't ironed out all the aspects of this revolution. Smart content providers are realizing that, and some are trying to use it to open up their product to new markets instead of shutting down innovation through litigation. In time, this will work itself out.

To say "wedding video is illegal" is just too broad and absurd. "Uncle Bob" ain't going to the pokey because he video'd his nieces wedding... so why should a bride who is either not blessed with an "uncle Bob", or realizes his videos suck, be an accomplice to a criminal videographer she hires to do the job right?? And why does the videographer become a law breaker??

Laws are meant to protect and maintain an orderly society - whose idea of "orderly" is an entirely different question. There are probalby hudreds of thousands of laws (maybe millions) of "laws" on the books, many if not most violated every day by average "honest" hard working, well meaning people. Then there are the "lawmakers" ripping people off via these same laws, so who is right? As long as there is reasonable conduct, society continues - when it becomes absurd, either anarchy or revolution results.

We are in the midst of the DIGITAL revolution, and thus why this is a hotly debated topic - viva la revolucion!

<rant mode off>

PS - even though I shoot weddings, "I am not a crook" <wink>
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Old March 26th, 2009, 06:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Cordes View Post
However, I have seen advertisements for videography services more than once that say the client gets to choose the music.
Maybe they get to choose songs from royalty-free music library?
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Old March 26th, 2009, 07:08 PM   #8
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I have another idea - strictly theoretical. What if I relocate my company to a country where music laws are less restrictive, and "outsource" cameraman and editing guy in US? Just speculating :-)
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Old March 26th, 2009, 08:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lukas Siewior View Post
I have another idea - strictly theoretical. What if I relocate my company to a country where music laws are less restrictive, and "outsource" cameraman and editing guy in US? Just speculating :-)
Very Interesting!!

In Aus we have a licence for $450 - AMCOS / ARIA Domestic use Video Licence

APRA|AMCOS : Find a licence to suit your needs

I'm guessing that you would have to register your business in Aus, get the licence and 'produce' the video here, or maybe just the audio?

startin to get pretty messy

and someone would have to get a legal opinion in the U.S. as to wether it would work
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Old March 26th, 2009, 10:33 PM   #10
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Very Interesting!!

In Aus we have a licence for $450 - AMCOS / ARIA Domestic use Video Licence

APRA|AMCOS : Find a licence to suit your needs

I'm guessing that you would have to register your business in Aus, get the license and 'produce' the video here, or maybe just the audio?

startin to get pretty messy

and someone would have to get a legal opinion in the U.S. as to wether it would work
It would be simpler. Just think of it as if you are so popular company that customers from USA wants you to shoot their weddings. But you can't do everything by yourself, so you hire employees to do some of the job for you. So they shoot and edit and burn DVD's. All bills, contracts, etc are with your business name and address in AUS. And you get to hold copyrights to the production and deal with all limitations - because the company works out of AUS.

I'm sure it would require a legal opinion but there might be a possibility.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 12:06 AM   #11
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I believe in obeying the law. That being said, I see some poetic justice here that started with file sharing services. The RIAA and their associates (albeit not all of them) have consistently and defiantly refused to police themselves ethically and morally over the years, leaping behind the first amendment and a slew of attorneys and lobbyists at any hint of impropriety. Then when file sharing services burst on the scene they insisted that the minions they created police themselves morally and ethically by not downloading music that they didn't pay for (most of them refused as well).

I have always paid for my music and will continue to do so. But my hope is that the RIAA makes it even POSSIBLE for wedding videographer to use their music legally.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 12:50 AM   #12
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I'll throw in my measly .02

I used to be one of the "bad guys" in illegal file sharing way back in the day. My library only consisted of maybe a hundred or so songs, so I definitely wasn't one of the targeted ones but I was breaking the law none the less. Several years ago, I destroyed all of my illegal music and began purchasing all of my music "the right way". Now, I buy all of my music through Amazon. It's extremely simple.

Since I have started making videos, I guess I am back to breaking the law even though it has been honestly unintentional. I use my purchased music in my videos. I understand now that it is no different than duplicating the song.

Here is where I have a problem with it though. I think it is VERY different than the early illegal file sharing days of Napster, Kazaa, etc. In those days, if you wanted a song...you simply went and got it. For FREE. I think that if you are using a song in a wedding DVD, you aren't really harming the artist by using their music. If fact, I believe you are helping that artist by getting that music out there even more and if someone hears that song, then maybe they will look into buying it. Either the single track, or album. I have a hard time believing that the artists themselves are having a hissy fit about songs in videos, it's the suit and ties that are throwing a fit and want to get that dollar. In a way, I think it's free promotion and advertising for them when we use their songs.

I'm sure someone will pick my post apart, but it's how I feel.
/of rant.
Have a good day.

-Brad
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Old March 27th, 2009, 06:31 AM   #13
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What would be simpler would be if the RIAA and other music governing powers came together and set a rate card for us in the video business.
IOW, say you do 40 weddings a year and want to use 2 songs per wedding. 80 songs. Now say they charged a licensing fee of, oh I don't know, $200.00.

I know I myself would be willing to pay that fee and guess what. Everyone wins. The music gets used legally and the artists, writers, publishers etc get SOMETHING.
As a very smart and rich person told me once a long time ago, "50% of SOMETHING is better than 100% of NOTHING"
Of course in a perfect world...
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Old March 27th, 2009, 07:33 AM   #14
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I've approached my Accountant for his opinion on the logistics of setting up something like this from an Australian point of view. I'm sure it will end up being very complicated but If anyone's interested in persuing the idea, let me know - at this stage it's just a bit of pie in the sky but if the end result is that Wedding videographers in the US can use an Austalian (or English) licencing scheme and supply a legal product, maybe it's worth looking into.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 04:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Cook View Post
I think that if you are using a song in a wedding DVD, you aren't really harming the artist by using their music. If fact, I believe you are helping that artist by getting that music out there even more and if someone hears that song, then maybe they will look into buying it. Either the single track, or album. I have a hard time believing that the artists themselves are having a hissy fit about songs in videos, it's the suit and ties that are throwing a fit and want to get that dollar. In a way, I think it's free promotion and advertising for them when we use their songs.

-Brad
I agree. The reason such usage is illegal is not because it harms the artist, it's because the RIAA contributes millions to the campaigns of legislators (for whom money is the key to getting re-elected), then puts high powered lobbyists in their offices describing the legislation that they want. Failure to write and push this legislation means no more money next time. I've seen it first hand in other industries. You can't tell me that Prince (or whatever his name is now) was in any way wronged when that toddler danced with his song in the background on You Tube. Nobody is going to take the short piece of audio from that clip and put it on their Ipod in lieu of purchasing the real song, you can barely hear the darn thing. Yet he went after her anyway.

If the RIAA wants to stop illegal use of their music, for crying out loud make a way for it to be used legally. And make it reasonable, these are not 150 million dollar Hollywood productions here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Mailath View Post
if the end result is that Wedding videographers in the US can use an Austalian (or English) licencing scheme and supply a legal product, maybe it's worth looking into.
I'd pay for something like this
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