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Old February 23rd, 2011, 05:03 PM   #1
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Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

We probably all have heard it. And to be honest I get depressed when I start reading over all the copyright laws. I am just starting out in my Wedding Videography business, and the amount that I charge, I can not afford to buy the music license and everything. I honestly don't know what to do. I have made a few DVD's and bought songs off the internet and put them on, but I know that I need a license to do so. The only reason I am putting this in the Wedding forum is because that is all I would use it for. Is it worth the trouble to get a music license or not?

How do you guys do it?
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 05:16 PM   #2
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Hugh threads (multiples) about this. On the one hand using copyright music even from the internet on a wedding is not exactly legal, on the other hand I'm going to guess and say that probably 80 to 90% of people that do wedding videos use it
.
Unfortunately there is no simplenor inexpensive way to buy and use the music with licenses.

If the music governing bodies would offer a license to people in the wedding video industry for a reasonable price say based on the number of songs to be used during the year (do 30 weddings with 3 songs each=90 songs =$200 as an example) then I would guess that most people would buy into it. It just doesn't seem to be a major thing to the music governing bodies.
Now I'm not saying to do it nor am I say not to, I'm suggessting you use your own best judgement and do whatever you think is best for you.

It's a tough position for all of us and only you can make that decision.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 05:31 PM   #3
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Thanks for your input. I agree with your idea about making it reasonable. And I see alot of people using songs for their wedding dvd's and I have to wonder if they have permission to or not. Im new to this so I don't know what most people do.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 05:42 PM   #4
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Hi Tyson

I think in the US they just use them without permission ..being on a private DVD each and every bride is unlikely to be hunted down!! If the bride wants commercial music then you have to use songs downloaded from places like iTunes. You can use royalty-free music like Smart Sound which does have wedding libraries too!! As Don says it's a complex issue with many, many threads and no clear cut solutions.

For now, just do what all the others are doing until something concrete is sorted out!! In Australia we have APRA and their licence of around $400 a year allows you legally to use songs on private DVD's up to 20 copies.

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Old February 23rd, 2011, 06:44 PM   #5
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Practical considerations are paramount here. Different considerations apply in different parts of the world, but you are in Indiana, and what I say applies only to the US.

First, it is not always very clear --- ad it is often downright confusing --- when you do and do not need a license and from whom you get it. (RIAA? ASCAP? BMI? Harry Fox Agency? etc. etc.) . For example, ASCAP says that music played as part of a worship service is exempt from copyright and licensing as long as it is not "transmitted" beyond where it takes place by radio or television. So, maybe you do not need a license for making a couple of DVDs of a worship service. ASCAP says they basically regulate public performance by businesses. So, maybe your pair of DVDs of the wedding ceremony is not a public performance because they only get played in somebody's home? Maybe somebody thinks it is covered because the viewers didn't make the video.

The practical consideration is: what do they have to gain by coming after you, the wedding videographer? The answer invariably will be: it all depends but, often, they have nothing to gain.

Let's start with how big a production are you making? Will you be be running 30 or 50 copies? Your are borderline. Maybe you will be posting the video for use on web pages, facebook, vimeo, etc? That puts you on the radar. The wider your distribution, the more likely you are to create practical legal problems when including copyrighted recordings of music or live performances of copyrighted music?

In almost 20 years of making wedding videos, I've rarely made more than a couple of tapes or DVDs for the couple. Once in a while, I'll get orders for several more for them to use as Christmas presents. These aren't for commercial distribution or public performance. What I am doing for them is essentially making their personal recording of the event. Nobody is going to prosecute the couple for making personal copies of music even if they make an extra copy or two (which, to the rabidly lawyerly, might well be a technical or at least arguable violation of copyright.)

Saying this does not mean that I, the videographer, think I am somehow exempt from the copyright laws. I'm not. But it does mean, as a practical matter, that my sort of work is just too "small potatoes" and too close to the line (whichever side it may be on) for it to be economcally rational for me to try to negotiate with ASCAP. It would be economically irrational for the likes of ASCAP to try to argue over private performances of a wedding video. ASCAP wants to negotiate with somebody making films for a film festivals and schools putting on Broadway-style shows for which the schools charge admission. It is simply too expensive for the big entities to try to argue over a wedding video or two even if you have put your big toe on the line marking "public performance." It is what the lawyers call "de minimus" (as in "de minimus non curat lex" --- when American lawyers don't like something, they often curse it with a latin phrase or name.)

Different considerations apply when you start posting videos or excerpts on the Internet or blasting stuff out from a screen at a bridal show or trade show. That is when you are clearly into the public performance areana, So, for when you get into that arena, you leave out the stuff with copyrighted music. This even includes the canned wedding march music used in some churches and wedding venues. Save that wedding footage for the couple's own DVDs. Same thing when you put stuff on you-tube or vimeo or send it to your local news. Or you call ASCAP, get an outrageous quoation and spend several days convincing them of how small you are and negotiating them down to some amount that is way more than you want to pay and far less than the originally asked for.

That does not mean you have to skip using the footage; only the audio with the copyrighted music. For substitutes, there are numbers of sources of free music which you can drop in to your video. I've worked mainly with two. One is to make use of Quicktracks by Smartsound which are, essentially, a form of royalty free music (muzak?) generation software. These are limited but useful. There is also scoring and looping software (Acid is one that comes to mind). I have not used it because a musical friend of mine has a scoring program called Sibelius. Bring it public domain sheet music, scan the sheet music into Sibelius, have my friend designate some instruments and then play it out to an mpe or wav recording.

That's my take on the practical aspects of this for wedding videos.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 07:32 PM   #6
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Hi!

Music licensing is a nightmare. Like, literally, I have nightmares about it. However, if you'd like to be on the up-and-up, you could always look into stock music - there's a lot of it online. I also have friends in Chicago (Apocalypse Cow | Recording Studio | Chicago Area - Apocalypse Cow Productions) that offer pre-composed music for very nominal fees. I've worked with them before, they're quite reasonable. I'm sure there are many such small music production companies out there just waiting to be of service!

Cheers,
Erin
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 07:46 PM   #7
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Thanks guys for all you help! I only make about two or three copies of my wedding dvd's. I do post them on my website to so maybe i should watch that a little bit. But ya thanks again!
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 08:31 PM   #8
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Tyson, may I offer you another take on the subject? The copyright laws we all tussle with one way or another (and Chris rightly points out that in other jurisdictions the solutions vary; here in the UK we pay 5 per disc sold and that covers - to all intents and purposes - all commercially published music) seem as if they’re there to protect the big boys in the music business. Because of that there’s a tendency to become very cavalier about the way we observe those laws. Is Paul McCartney going to starve because we steal one of his songs? Will the heirs to the estate of Nat “King” Cole suffer because we drop “Unforgettable” into a video without paying? Of course not.

But for every McCartney or Nat “King” Cole there’s a hundred or a thousand competent, trained, talented, working musicians who depend much more than the “names” on the small pay cheques which filter down from the distributors of copyright fees. Dismiss them if you wish, but my guess is that they spent several times more years learning to be musicians than you or I spent learning the craft of the wedding video producer. The copyright laws were created to protect such people just as much as the top names and though it might not feel the same as pointing a handgun at the bank teller, that’s what you’re doing, stealing their work.

In fact I worked alongside many musicians over the years and at the funeral of one recently I was struck by how many people still work in the business, living from gig to gig, commission to commission, all the time competing with the rigamarole of electronic copying and distribution.

I have been a contractor to the UK’s main copyright collection agency for 30 years. Early in my career it was commonplace for small time producers, just starting out (does this sound familiar?) not to bother paying for music copyright licences. As Jay described, most were too small and under-funded for the authority to bother taking to Court. Sure, they’d win but they didn’t stand a chance of collecting what they were awarded.

Until one day a big London production company, by accident or commission, used some commercial music in a programme they made for a big oil company. The agency pounced, won and collected a substantial sum from both the production house and the oil company, but most important of all got huge publicity. Suddenly clients were asking their production companies whether the music used in their programmes was legal, and almost overnight there was a sea change in attitudes.

As someone who would have dearly loved to have been able to play my instruments better, I look forward to the agencies getting tough and taking to Court not only the quite well known wedding video businesses who post material on their websites, Vimeo, You Tube etc but their clients as well. Posting work on the Internet is broadcasting. It’s not a discussion point, it’s a fact. And ignoring the law is laziness, nothing more.

As I wrote, we have a privileged position in the UK; our music copyright authorities have taken an enlightened view which benefits everybody - well ought to benefit everybody because, believe it or not, there are still big names in the wedding production business who don’t bother to buy the 5 licences per disk. If producers want to stay legal and still play their programmes in public - on the Internet, at wedding fairs etc - all they have to do is to lay in some copyright- and performance-cleared music in place of the commercial piece they sold their clients. Erin's solution mentioned above is something that deserves some checking and support.

As I say it’s only laziness and in my view that laziness deserves to be rewarded with a Court fine large enough for them to have to sell their cameras and for their client referrals to be exactly the opposite of what they hoped.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 09:17 PM   #9
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Just for interest our APRA licence ONLY allows you to have the music on DVD!!! If you put it on your website it becomes "broadcast"!!!

What I do on my website samples is replace the ceremony music with royalty free music and that keeps it legal. Probably not as nice but at least you are safe!! You Tube will check your audio track and either disable it or add some advertising to it if they feel it's a copyright issue (covering their own backs I guess??)

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Old February 23rd, 2011, 09:42 PM   #10
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Greetings Tyson,

The reality of the situation is if you don't give your bride what she wants, someone else will. The copyright issue is so confusing and unrealistically expensive, without an attorney to guide you step by step and a huge bucket of cash, you probably are violating it anyway. I would suggest buying each song, each time you use it because it would be the right thing to do, but other than that, just get the job done for your client.

Now as far as putting copywritten music in clips on your site, that is a different situation as you are functionally promoting yourself, not giving record of a days events. In these cases it would be in your best interest to do a different audio track with some generic background music for your promo clips. If you are self hosting your clips, you are farther under the radar. If you are uploading and then embedding the uploaded clips from Youtube etc, you are dead in their sites.

Think smart and do what you think is fair to the artists and your client and just go with it.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 07:31 AM   #11
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Thanks again guys for all your input!
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Old February 24th, 2011, 07:46 AM   #12
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

To keep my clients (and me too) out of trouble and keep things simple, I've been building up a library of buy out music, mostly from SmartSound and Digital Juice. I generally wait for a good sale to buy, like 10 discs for X dollars.

When I make the short versions that can be loaded online, I ONLY use royalty free music, and most of the sound from whatever the DJ or Musicians play is stripped out. As for the full length DVDs, it's pretty much recorded as it happens, sound and all. But I do warn my clients about lifting parts from the DVD and posting online. I tell them about YouTubes automated software that scans the music, and even how it flagged a buy out song in error once for me, and all the trouble I had to go to to straighten it all out.

The instance I mentioned, the copyright holder provided me with documentation of my license to use the music that I sent to a REAL PERSON who worked for YouTube. It only took a couple of days, but it's never fun dealing with a hassle.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 01:57 PM   #13
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
Just for interest our APRA licence ONLY allows you to have the music on DVD!!! If you put it on your website it becomes "broadcast"!!!
It's the same for the UK. I suppose that limited numbers of disks produced for a wedding video can be more easily measured than views on a web site. From the copyright holders point of view the potential audience for anything on a website is everybody with a browser which is hundreds of millions of viewers.

Incidentally the licence scheme here in the UK is in some ways more flexible than that which you have in Australia as the maximum production run of disks can be in the hundreds & so can cover amateur concerts, dance recitals etc There are also price breaks as the number of disks rises so a licence for 1-5 disks with >25 minutes of music is about 25 but the licence for 100-250 disks is only about 200.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 06:07 AM   #14
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

There are two options to have license free music at an affordable rate.....songfreedom.com or withetiquette.com


Affordable and noncheesy.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 10:57 AM   #15
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Re: Music for Weddings. HELP!!! :)

The cost shouldn't put you off - but it could put off the client. If you explain that you will use either controlled copyright material, that will be nice, but not known - and it's cheap, or they can use popular music which will be expensive. Give them the option and two prices and let them choose.
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