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


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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:18 PM   #46
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I do plenty of shooting where the soundtrack is no doubt copyright material. I shoot mainly in theatres, and the content can be dance, comedy, music or plays. My client in most cases is not the copyright holder. I rarely do the edit, I'm just commisioned to aquire the material for somebody else. All clearances are obtained by them. If they forgot, or perhaps just didn't bother, I wouldn't know. I don't worry about it at all. The advice I got over here in the UK was that the person whon publishes the material is responsible for clearance, not the person who shoots it. So - the editor and client would appear to be the ones who need to be careful. I realise it's been covered, but I still can't quite work out why if the client is happy to take the responsibility, and you have evidence of this, why it should be a problem.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:37 PM   #47
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Documentary crews are paid for their work, they record an event(s), they produce a product, presumably that product is watched by some people... how do they handle these issues?
For the most part, in today's climate of "pay me or I'll sue" documentary producers are in the same boat as everyone else. Perfect example is the song "Happy Birthday". We all sing it, right. Well, singing it is fine but if you want to use someone singing it in a film... even if you are simply covering the event where they are singing it you have to pay the family of the original author. I have heard of figures as high as $5,000 for its use in a TV documentary. So what do producers do? They do not use the scene where they all sang Happy Birthday.

The 80's documentary "Eyes on the Prize" was recently rebroadcast on PBS after only having been shown one time. Why? The producers no longer had the rights to the stock footage and 95% of that show was stock. Only recently was the widow of the producer able to get funding to relicense the footage and make the show available to a whole new audience.

Why is it all you seem to see on the History Channel are WW2 shows? Because the footage is all public domain. It was shot by members of the armed forces, for the most part, and is therefore free for anyones use. You do not see other documentaries the way you use to anymore because the cost to license the footage has gone out of site. The legal department of a network can kill any show if they (the producers) do not have signed releases for everything. Interviews, stock, music. Even shots of buildings like the Trump Tower need a release from his company.

Had a shoot recently for a new show to run on ABC. One of those real life types. We were shooting in a child's bedroom and in the background were some stuffed animals. I had the shot lit and in came the producer. He went crazy when he saw the stuffed animals. "Who are these animals... are they anybody famous?" he asked the child. He then proceeded to turn all the animals around until it looked like a bunch of colored pillows.

It's nuts out there!
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Old May 29th, 2007, 04:44 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
I realise it's been covered, but I still can't quite work out why if the client is happy to take the responsibility, and you have evidence of this, why it should be a problem.
I understand your example Paul, but the wedding video business doesn't fit that mold. Many times, the person shooting is the same person who will produce it, edit it, deliver it, etc. The client in this case is the couple who are getting married. Since they aren't the distributors, you can't really shift the burden of rights clearances to them. That's my interpretation anyway.

The parallel that I would prefer to draw is that we have the right to photograph and sell photographs of 'celebrities' without consent if they are appearing in public. So the law does recognize some semblance of necessity in that regard. Applied equally to popular music, I think that when an artist has a song that gets published, receives airplay, and is promoted heavily, there should be some sort of 'celebrity status' proviso for such music as there is for people. But I don't agree that we should be able to use it for free. I am personally an advocate for a 'forced' licensing system that recognizes a type of celebrity status for music and requires the artist to allow low cost licensing for this type of work.

IMO, it's a broken or antiquated system that needs to be fixed.

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Old May 29th, 2007, 05:11 PM   #49
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THX George for the fill in - sounds like the plot for "Lawyers Gone Wild" rumour had it that was a great show, but by the time they sorted out all the legal issues everyone had died from the tedium... or gone bankrupt from the legal fees...
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Old May 29th, 2007, 05:37 PM   #50
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The state of technology is changing much faster then legal updates... that's one of the problems with IP law. No-one really anticipated a lot of the technology that exists today, and once it started creating licensing problems, then people started including phrases like "In whatever medium or distribution method might be created in the universe in the future.."

Yes, it's frustrating... but I like to think of it as 'job security'. My wife is an IP attorney ;)
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Old June 8th, 2007, 10:02 AM   #51
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Great topic, I've been looking into doing private work and this issue alone is discouraging. You know whats funny, is that event videographers feel they are somewhat the only ones, well I went skydiving and I paid for a video and guess what they used U2 and I can tell that there is no way they had a license for the music or even a sync license. Technically it seems like these laws are being broken every second we sit here and write about this issue. Who knows how many broke the law by the time I get done writing this .....
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Old June 8th, 2007, 11:54 AM   #52
 
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Mike,
Being a skydiving photographer, I'd first submit that skydiving photography is an "event" too.
That said, the law is being broken every second of every day somewhere in the world. That doesn't make it right. Much of law-breaking is tied to myths of what is legal and what isn't. There isn't a week go by that I don't hear:
~It's OK because it's just one copy
~It's OK because the customer provided the music
~It's OK because I bought a CD for every DVD copy I made
~(My favorite) I only used a small piece of the music, and Fair Use says that I can use up to 10% without being illegal (wish I knew where that came from).

Lots of myths, lots of misunderstandings. Bottom line, the model in the US will change at some point, but until then, stay legal by using royalty free content and then you have nothing to worry about. Not now, not in the future.
BTW, there is a real push in the skydiving world (admittedly led by me) to abolish the use of copyrighted works.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 03:36 PM   #53
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Glad to hear that and I agree with you a lot on this. I'll definitely look into the royalty free content. Thanks again.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 06:09 PM   #54
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...
Until then, I can't stay in this business if I'm going to have to tell my clients, "Nope. Sorry. I can't use your favorite song in your wedding video. It's illegal. Yes, I understand you have the CD. Yes, I'm sorry you own all 12 of that artist's CD's and have paid to go to every concert. Yes, I know every other videographer in town will do it. Okay then, have a nice day. Give me a call if you change your mind".

Yeah, right, lol.

Actually you CAN stay in business and refuse to break the law, but I'll admit it's going be swimming upstream for a while. You need to become an activist for a truly professional industry and do all you can to insure every other wedding videographer and all the trade organizations get on board and as an industry just flat refuse to condone violations. Frankly I don't understand why wedding and event videographers as a group aren't as rigid about this as people in broadcasting and the feature production industries are ... it's almost as if they're saying en masse "We're not real professionals like they are so all that big-business legal stuff doesn't really apply to us." It's embarrassing! I'd like to give the W/E shooters a lot more credit than that. Even the smallest of small-town radio stations makes sure it has its ducks in order with their ASCAP and BMI licenses, for the life of me I can't understand why event and wedding videographers are equally diligent in staying on the right side of the law. Sure it's more complicated, but dealing with complicated problems is what being professional is all about.

WEVA has annual awards, for example ... how about if WEVA said that "All videos submitted for consideration for awards and all video exhibited at any WEVA sanctioned trade show or event requires written proof of license for all music." How about if WEVA said "All member videographers are subject to audit and may not use the WEVA logo or make any public claim of membership in WEVA unless they can prove by written license that all music used in all productions from their company has proper licensing." How about if they said "Any member found to be using copyright material without license in any web-based advertising or demo reels must immediately cease and desist using any and all references to WEVA membership in their promotional materials and advertising and are barred from participating in any WEVA affiliated wedding shows." Figure out whatever sanctions could be applied to scofflaws who don't give a damn, toss 'em out of WEVA, file complaints with the BBB for unethical business practices, whatever, but it would screech to a stop when every professional videographer in town worth hiring that the B&G call says "Sorry, no can do, won't break the law for any amount of money because no matter how much you pay me, it's a pittance compared to what it will cost me." But when the venues where people in the business congregate all give it a wink and say "Sure, we know it's illegal but ...." it's going to be damned hard to be ethical about it and go against the flow.
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Last edited by Steve House; June 9th, 2007 at 08:06 AM.
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Old June 13th, 2007, 06:48 PM   #55
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I have a feeling if WEVA took that stand, and actually enforced it, then that might be the end of WEVA. I could be wrong, though. (EDIT: I would also add that the average bride doesn't really care if you're a WEVA member or not. They hire based on what your work looks like and your rate.)

As for why most videographers don't take a stand, I think it has to do with the history of wedding videography. My guess is that it started with hobbyists who never even thought it could be illegal to use an artist's song in a wedding video (I know I didn't realize it for the longest time). As more and more hobbyists became full-timers, the trend to use the clients' music in their videos strengthened, and eventually clients came to expect that from videographers. This is all just guesswork from me, since I've only been in the business about 4 or 5 years, but it seems to add up.

I guess all I know for sure is that every videographer in my market touts "using the music the couple chooses" as a service that they provide. They present it as a strongpoint. So when a guy like me comes along, and doesn't even know any better, and starts up a business doing videography, it's a give that I need to offer that service as well, especially when couple's are asking me for that.

Then I find out that technically it's not legal, but that there's no system for doing it legally, which is why everyone else is just doing it. The couples that come to me don't know about this backstory and they could care less if they did. They just want a videographer that will make a highlight video with their favorite song. Saying "no" is basically the same thing as handing them a piece of paper with your competitor's phone number on it.

It's a pretty crappy scenario.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 02:45 AM   #56
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I have a feeling if WEVA took that stand, and actually enforced it, then that might be the end of WEVA. I could be wrong, though.
Possible. I am not a member of WEVA myself (and I don't make wedding videos), so I don't know what lobbying power WEVA has. Given enough influence, though, I think the smart move would be for WEVA to talk to the big music companies and make an arrangement that benefits everyone. Something along the lines of WEVA collecting the fees and issuing the permits for the use of music in wedding videos, and writing a monthly check to the music companies.

No individual wedding videographer brings enough money to the table to make it interesting for the music industry to even start thinking about a solution. But when you combine them all, maybe it can be an attractive solution to the industry, as well as to videographers. Isn't this what associations like WEVA should be all about?

[Disclaimer: Again, I am not part of WEVA, I don't know much about it, so this may be completely unrealistic. Maybe someone else knows if this has already been tried...]

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Old June 14th, 2007, 09:57 AM   #57
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I agree with Martin. I am always in search of good royalty free music that doesnt sound too "studio or garageband" manufactured. I know myself and others would gladly pay a one time fee for music used in a video provided it was of sufficient quality. The problem is that most of the Brides we deal with want a particular song or at least a certain feel of music. The only thing we do right now is make sure that they provide the song. I really don't think there is a parallel comparrison to our field and the film industry when it comes to the project budgets and of course the net profits. Give me us a realistic avenue to purchase the music and I'm on board. Stock20.com is my favorite so far but they really need to increase the library volume more consistently.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 11:00 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
...
Then I find out that technically it's not legal, but that there's no system for doing it legally, which is why everyone else is just doing it. The couples that come to me don't know about this backstory and they could care less if they did. ...
I have a problem with using this as the justification. To take an extreme example, and I don't mean to equate videographers with dope dealers, but there's a consumer demand for crack, there's no system in place to obtain it legally, so does that justify an enterpreneur ignoring the law and going into business to satisfy that demand illegaly? While the severity of the issues aren't comparable, the principal involved is the same IMHO.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 11:13 AM   #59
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I agree with Martin. I am always in search of good royalty free music that doesnt sound too "studio or garageband" manufactured. I know myself and others would gladly pay a one time fee for music used in a video provided it was of sufficient quality. The problem is that most of the Brides we deal with want a particular song or at least a certain feel of music. The only thing we do right now is make sure that they provide the song. I really don't think there is a parallel comparrison to our field and the film industry when it comes to the project budgets and of course the net profits. Give me us a realistic avenue to purchase the music and I'm on board. Stock20.com is my favorite so far but they really need to increase the library volume more consistently.
True, but consider the point of view of the owners of the music. Is there any complelling reason they OUGHT to make it available to small users at low cost? It's their property just like your work is your property. Would the fact you'd really like to have a F900 camera but can't afford the $100,000 price tag create any compulsion on the part of Sony to reduce the price? What is different about a current song that commands a $50000 license fee when used on "So You Think You Can Dance" that means the owners should feel obligated to make it available to you for $10? I think it would be NICE if they did, don't get me wrong, and I'd certainly support any efforts to create such a system, but it's very hard to make a compelling case that it OUGHT to be done and until it is done, there's no case at all that can justify being a scofflaw. Expediency ain't good enough.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 11:58 AM   #60
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Another thought:

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True, but consider the point of view of the owners of the music. Is there any complelling reason they OUGHT to make it available to small users at low cost? It's their property just like your work is your property.
I see no compelling reason, other than to offer the potential wisdom embedded in this question:

Would you rather have $ 100 from 100 customers, or $ 1 from 100,000 customers? From that perspective, the artists are "losing" $ 90,000.

The apparent "wisdom" of that thought seems obvious, (at least to me), but also seems to elude many "artists." Maybe because they're artists, not bean-counters or business managers?
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