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


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Old March 3rd, 2012, 09:05 PM   #16
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Chris, that's all good as long as the bride and groom never post any portion of the video that has music online. But if any of them do, if any of the dozens and eventually hundreds of couples you did a wedding video for puts it online, and it's the part with their first dance, one video is all it takes to ruin your life, at least here in the US. The legal system is setup so lawyers get rich and nobody else benefits. They put these ridiculously high figures on copyrighted music, like that wedding videographer that got sued for $150,000 and had to settle for five figures. So lets suppose he settled for $30,000. Did his use of that Coldplay song in that wedding video make the band Coldplay lose $30,000? Or even $10,000? No freaking way. That's plain and simple, the legal system taking advantage of a situation because they can. I'm not saying that he had the right to use that song without paying either, if he was making a highlights video he should have used a song from a licensing service.

As for the DJs, for what I read they do pay a flat fee to be able to play their music at a private party, however that license does not extend to the videographer, who has to pay for the right to use those songs in his video, as ridiculous as it sounds.

As for Canada I don't know, but I read that the UK and Australia actually have smart licensing systems in place that cover wedding and event videographers so they can do their job.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 09:38 PM   #17
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Hey Sebastian

If you film the couple doing the first dance and you upload it online you get sued right?? Not the couple and not the DJ ??? So surely if the bride rips part of your video and uploads it to the web she has committed the breach of copyright not you...or doesn't it work that way???

I would make sure that I had a condition on my contract that says "no part of the DVD may be extracted and uploaded to the internet. Copies of the DVD may only be made to another disk for personal viewing otherwise copyright laws could be breached" ...(or something like that??? I'm no legal expert)

It might be worth having a consultation with a lawyer just to find out if you are protected that way!!!

Surely you can cover yourself so that the bride and groom are refused permission to use the disk contents in any way whatsoever apart from personal viewing from another disk ???

You of course can also protect yourself from them making copies or ripping by making each disk "faulty" to copy but not faulty to read and play by taking a file and just scoring the outer edge of the DVD with a file (just a tiny scratch is all you need) so when a copy program tries to read it, the media has a fault and the disk is "un-copyable" It will still play in a DVD player as all the content is written from the inside outwards so the outside edge of the disk would not have any data written to it.

There are seemingly a lots of lawyers in the USA looking to make not an honest buck but a fast one!!!

Chris
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Old March 4th, 2012, 10:57 AM   #18
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

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Hey Sebastian

If you film the couple doing the first dance and you upload it online you get sued right?? Not the couple and not the DJ ??? So surely if the bride rips part of your video and uploads it to the web she has committed the breach of copyright not you...or doesn't it work that way???
It doesn't, as far as I've read. The liability goes all the way down to the producer of the video.

I was just taking a look at the website that issues the licenses in the UK. I'm sure musicians in the UK make a lot more money with this intelligent system than they do here in the US with these draconian laws. Take a look:

Limited Manufacture Licence (LM)
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Old March 5th, 2012, 12:32 AM   #19
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Here in the UK as has been said we can licence the music for modest fees. We retain copyright so if the bride does post a video online it's a technical breach of our copyright as we have not authorised the usage online.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 04:22 AM   #20
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

About 2 years ago, I was asked to film a small elementary school talent show to sell to parents. About 20 families participated. I was happy to do so at a bare cost because I had gone to that school and still volunteered there a lot.

I worked with the kids, parents, and teachers over a 3-month time period as they went through tryouts, rehearsals, and then finally the big night.

Once the DVD was all edited and printed, I gave sample copies to the Directors and Principal for final approval. The Directors LOVED it... so did the Principal, except... she said that much as she liked it, I would have to destroy all the copies and never let anyone see them! She said it was copyright violation.

At this point, I had to wonder during all that time she saw me checking in at the front desk and going to film all this stuff and having conversations with me about this, why didn't she stop me in the beginning BEFORE all those hours of work??

Also, isn't the school violating copyright by allowing all these Top 10 pop hits to be sung and/or played during a public event on their school property by their students - without a license to do so?! A practice they have continued both before and after this event with me... as I'm sure many other schools do.

The really sad part was that so many parents expressed their joy during the big night that I was recording this as they didn't own a camcorder, hadn't brought one along, or stopped their own recording once they knew a DVD would be available.

Needless to say, this Principal has not turned out to be very popular.

Soooo... what is the situation with this kind of talent show/recitals in small-time schools in the States?

Deborah
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Old March 5th, 2012, 05:40 AM   #21
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Hi Deborah

I have always wondered that myself?? Dance schools too will do a concert with paying parents at a public venue and use copyrighted songs..in fact during the students lessons each week copyright songs are also played which technically is a copyright infringement as songs purchased on a CD are licensed for users to play them for their own enjoyment, and privately too!! Technically if you invite your friends around for a party are you not then infringing copyright as you might be playing songs to 30 or 40 people at your birthday party. I have only done one or two concerts and when the concert started the organiser said that "we have an official videographer here tonight so no personal photos or video is permitted"

I know that some schools require a release form for each and every student and some will also state on the ticket that "this event is being filmed, entry is allowed on the condition that you have no objection"


There are quite a few people here that specialise in dance recitals (much the same as concerts from a music point of view) so maybe they can answer how the school/dance studio gets away with playing copyrighted music???

Music copyright has always been a sticky issue from the day the lawyers discovered they can sue people!!

Chris
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Old March 5th, 2012, 08:26 AM   #22
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Non-profit educational institutions in the U.S. are exempt from ASCAP fees, from what I've read on the ASCAP site.

On the other hand if a for profit videographer tapes and sells DVD performances they would likely be subject to fees, thought I don't know this for a fact. As soon as money making becomes involved for anyone where there is a use of copyrighted music then everything changes.

That's why for-profit day care centers / montessori schools cannot use copyrighted material in their performances and recitals, but public and other non-profit schools can. I'm sure Catholic and other religious educational institutions fall in the non-profit category as well.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 09:12 AM   #23
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

I think it's about time somebody did something about this. The situation we have now in the US is like the law allows you to drive, but with one arm. If you use both arms, you risk getting a ticket in the tens of thousands. Plus it's not only bad for videographers, it's also bad for all people. Because according to the law, you can't record the first dance of a couple, or their guests dancing at their party, or a dance recital, so all the technical progress we have made in the past few years is useless, because parents won't be able to show their kids in 20 years the video of them dancing when they were 8 or 10, or they won't be able to show them the video of their first dance as husband and wife.

Besides, I read dozens of people post something that makes a lot of sense to me. Lets suppose you were doing a romantic video of the couple to an Adele song but you give them the video with no audio track, and you tell them that as soon as the video begins, they have to play track 4 of Adele's "21". So they do that, and they listen to the song while the video you edited of them is playing on their TV. That is perfectly legal, but if you include the song in the audio track of the video, then it's a blatant breach of copyright law. That's a load of crap in my opinion, because the result is exactly the same, the couple sitting in front of the TV watching their wedding highlights video with Adele's music.

But at least when it comes to highlights videos, we have the choice of using royalty free music. When it comes to the first dance, or a dance recital, we just don't. So eventually someone will have to do something about it.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 11:04 AM   #24
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

If you get familiar with the history of ASCAP it will be clear that eventually ASCAP will find a way to collect from wedding videographers even when they do not post to the web.

They will find a way. Nobody is going to do anything, there is nothing to be done. ASCAP is very powerful and the law is on their side.

As history shows they will find a way to scare for-profit enterprises and cause the vast majority to pay licensing fees somehow. How will they do it? I have no idea, but I"m sure they will. They can independently hire videographers themselves, and then sue them with the evidence, destroy them, and scare the pants off of everyone else.

It will get worse, never better, IMO.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 11:35 AM   #25
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

I often wondered what the difference is between the Bridal March (Chris Brown song) that went viral vs. Joe Simon's. One got nailed, the other went scott free.

I suggest moving this to the members only section given the sensitive topic at hand, with all due respect Mr. CH.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 02:51 PM   #26
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Sebastian, you're absolutely right. Just like you, I also felt that prick of my conscience, which is exactly why I quit shooting weddings, dance and skating events. Now any video I shoot is strictly business, in which it is much easier to control the content. I also diversified my business to include web development to cover the lost business.

How are US videographers dealing with copyright restrictions? The easy answer is they ignore them. Typically they manufacture legal-sounding excuses to ease their own consciences. I tried that for a few years and almost convinced myself, but in the end I could not, so I simply stopped trying. I'm convinced that the way the current laws exist, it is illegal to professionally shoot wedding video.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 04:33 PM   #27
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

There are, in my mind, two principles at work here, and they are related. The first is "fair value" or "innate value". People have a sense of what things are worth - what is fair - independent of whatever the seller may actually be saying or whatever laws are in play. It's why we cringe at $6.00 sodas and $8 hot dogs at the movie theater ... we know that is not the innate value of those products and we only buy because we are captive in that setting and there is an effective monopoly.

In the same way - people know that a popular song on a wedding video is not worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. It just isn't ... by anything close to a rational standard. So, when crazy crap comes up like that, people just ignore it. It's like a speed limit - if you made it 3 MPH on a highway - everyone understands that's crazy and no one will follow it.

The second principle is related, but is more of a practical precedent for this line of thought. When Celine Dion (or whoever) sells a CD for $15 at Walmart, her Rec Co. might get something like $5 and she gets some portion of that (let's not argue how accurate that # is or not, just using as a rough example). Now I actually get 10-12 songs for the $5 - making each one worth maybe 50 cents - and if I get it on itunes (the 1 song) - it's like 99 cents right? And apple gets some of that. That's what they're trying to do yeah? ... sell all the songs they can to make .50 to a $1 on each one. If I go buy 10 copies of it, they make $5-$10. They are happy when this happens. We all agree so far?

So - importantly - we have established a practical precedent that the innate value of a Celine Dion song on an optical disc is worth $1 (at most) to the "publisher/artist/rec co" and they are happy with that. If I buy it, I have the right to listen to it as many times as I want, play it for my friends and family, etc. etc. etc.

Now - why is it that if I decide to put that song on another optical disk - a DVD - that the value suddenly jumps to hundreds or thousands of dollars? That's the major disconnect! As a Video producer, I would be happy to pay Celine and co. $1 each time I put it on a new disc to be legal ... BUT THEY WON'T LET ME! Why are they elated to get $1 for a copy encoded on "Disk A" but somehow think that getting $1 or even more for a copy encoded on "disk B" is screwing them over? D-I-S-C-O-N-N-E-C-T!

But look at the end result even from the rec. cos and artists/publishers perspective ... right now they are getting NOTHING from all this because people either won't use it for fear and inability to afford it, or they use it anyway and pay nothing. If they were just willing to take something REASONABLE like $1/copy or heaven forbid 9.1 cents like with audio, they would make a bunch of money they are not now getting and videographers could breathe easily. I honestly don't understand why they would not want this themselves.

I do wish someone would pick this up and run with it for new laws, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 05:12 PM   #28
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

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Sebastian, you're absolutely right. Just like you, I also felt that prick of my conscience, which is exactly why I quit shooting weddings, dance and skating events. .
To me it's not a matter of conscience. My conscience doesn't bother me at all for video-recording a wedding or a dance recital where they play music from whatever artists the DJ chooses. We are just providing the couple and their family with a tool that will make them remember that day much better. And I wish I could switch to corporate video easily, but I only did a few corporate things for a former employer that were many years ago and it wasn't a very professional job because back then I didn't have the tools. Now I do, but I don't have a lot of sample videos to show companies that I can do a good job.

But going back to the wedding issue, to me it's very simple. If we had to pay a small fee like they do in the UK to be able to use all the background music captured with the camera, and another $10 fee per song that we want to add to the video for transitions or highlights, everybody could afford that and musicians would be getting a lot of extra income thanks to that. But until someone at the music labels figures that out, we are going to either stop shooting weddings or keep shooting them at the risk of getting sued for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, only because we want to give married couples the chance to remember their first dance for as long as they live, or kids the chance to see themselves dancing on stage when they are older and they can show it to their own kids. I think these people need to wake up to reality. I'm sure that if they start suing videographers just for the fact that they include the live music from the event, everybody gets screwed including the same lawyers that prepare those lawsuits, because they also have kids that do a play at school with copyrighted materials, or they have sons or daughters that will get married eventually, and they will want to have a nice video of their wedding that includes the first dance and themselves dancing to Billy Jean or Don't Stop Believing and many others.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 05:41 PM   #29
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

Thanks guys this is getting interesting...now IF a home movie maker can use copyright music for an amateur video then surely an amateur can also film a wedding (at no charge) and be in the clear???

If that's the case then we simply do wedding videos for free!! and it's no longer a business contract???

I remember in the UK many years back there was bitter arguements about trading on Sundays ..you could sell vegetables but NOT furtinture so an enterprising furniture shop set up a market stall every Sunday and sold carrots at 300 pounds a bunch and you got a free bedroom suite and mattress!!!

It seems very much like you can skip all the copyright problems if you are a school...I wonder if the school staff are allowed to produce a DVD and sell it to parents??? Would they be exempt from any copyright issues, simply because they are a religious or educational establishment????

These music artists make a fortune anyway as do the record companies without fleecing poor little videographers! Soon enough they will be arresting 12 year old children in the street for broadcasting songs from their IPods!!!cos you can hear the music when they take an ear bud out!!

I would still like to know, regardless of the fact that schools are exempt, how videographers do dance recitals and concerts without being illegal???? Some input from those who do concerts would be nice

Chris
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:12 PM   #30
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Re: How are videographers dealing with copyright restrictions?

"Soon enough they will be arresting 12 year old children in the street for broadcasting songs from their IPods!!!cos you can hear the music when they take an ear bud out!!"

ASCAP has threatened to sue both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts for singing copyrighted songs around the campfire.

There has been controversy whether they can collect fees from phone users each time a ringtone plays on a phone using copyrighted music, calling it a public performance, thought they dispute this.

If you read the criticism section of the Wikipedia entry for ASCAP you can learn a few interesting tidbits about the organization.
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