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-   -   Music licencing? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/taking-care-business/35673-music-licencing.html)

Brian Patterson November 29th, 2004 07:44 PM

Music licencing?
I will be doing a corporate shoot in Hawaii in a few days and had a question about the final product. My client needs some video trailers set to music and authored to DVD. My question is about obtaining the proper "permission" in order to set the scene to music. I am primarily a wedding videographer and don't normally worry about using popular songs but in this case since the disc will be mass-produced and given to corporations in order to entice them to send their executives to Hawaii I'm worried about using music.

Does anyone know how this works? If I do need permission, how do I go about getting this? Is there some licence I can buy similar to a DJ that would allow me to use the music legally in my video?

Thanks in advance!

Richard Alvarez November 29th, 2004 07:49 PM

Go to freeplaymusic.com and read their licensing agreement. You can download and use music for free and non-commercial one-off like your demo reel or in-class for film school. You pay a licensing fee for distributed videos on a per-run basis... X amount for less than a hundred, Y ammount for more... If you use it for commercial broadcast it's free, but you must provide a cue sheet. (They get their money from the stations)

Read the licensing agreement IN TOTALITY. Many sites are similar, many libraries are as well. You may choose a "needle drop" plan. Read up on it.

Brian Patterson November 29th, 2004 08:12 PM

Thanks so much for the info. The only problem is that the client has a specific commercial artist in mind. We're not talking about general background music....would this still fall under the site you mentioned? I did a search for some popular musicians and it came up empty.

Douglas Spotted Eagle November 29th, 2004 08:14 PM

I am primarily a wedding videographer and don't normally worry about using popular songs but in this case since the disc will be mass-produced and given to corporations in order to entice them to send their executives to Hawaii I'm worried about using music.

So if I read this right, you are saying that you don't find it a problem to illegally use copyrighted music for wedding videos because you're not gonna get caught, but it's scary to use copyrighted music in a video that will be mass replicated, because you might get caught?

Are you aware that using copyrighted music in a video production is now also a potential criminal offense?

As a person who makes their primary income from the sale of original works of music, I find that a highly offensive position to take on the part of a videographer. If we're all professionals, I'd hope that we'd recognize the benefit and value in each other's creative works.

[edit] you posted while I was posting, so wanted to respond to your reply there.

You can only get permission to use the song from the publisher of the work. If you have a specific artist in mind and want to use a specific song, there likely is not a snowball's chance in heck that you'll get it royalty free, not if the artist has been alive in the past 20 years.

http://www.sundancemediagroup.com/ar.../copyright.htm will provide you with info on how to manage this and explain the procedure to obtain permissions and how it all works. There are several licenses needed, it's not a one-shot deal.
Not even the ARTIST can give you permission to sync his/her song to video unless he/she owns 100% of the copyright to the master. That's rarer than pig's wings. Generally the publisher administers this.

Brian Patterson November 29th, 2004 09:40 PM

Didn't mean to offend and I'm certainly not the first videographer to enquire about using popular music. It's actually a question I've ALWAYS wondered about and could never really get a straight answer. To respond to your claim that now I am worried NOW about getting caught that couldn't be further from the truth. I have always been aware that I needed a clear answer but was unable to get one. What I meant when I said I didn't normally "worry" about it, I meant that I'm sure Aerosmith or Van Halen have better things to do than to chase me about providing wedding memories to Suzy and Johnny. Your answer about ownership sounds right, but not realistic. In reality, there is more likelihood that an artist would be able to profit from my use of one of their songs on my corporate DVD than they would ever be able to profit on Johnny and Suzie's wedding video. If they made the music, they should profit -- I agree and I simply wanted to know what the legal process was to do this properly as I mentioned early in this post.

Remainder of post deleted for flaming content -- Admin.

Douglas Spotted Eagle November 29th, 2004 10:29 PM

I'm just trying to help you out here.

You yourself commented that you didn't worry about using copyrighted work in wedding vids. Whether you do it for wedding vid or for broadcast work, it's equally illegal.

Whether my comment about ownership "sounds right" or not, it matters little. The law is the law. It's not nearly the same as swearing in public, spitting on a sidewalk, or speeding. All are against the law, but none of them are stealing property from others. Using copyrighted works in a wedding video or corporate video is theft, plain and simple. The question isn't whether it's "catchable" or not, the question is whether you can sleep at night knowing you're stealing. Saying that "Van Halen or Aerosmith have better things to do" is simply naive. Van Halen or Aerosmith don't own their publishing. Van Halen's publishing is owned by Van Halen Publishing, LLC, Judah Francis Publishing, Feekamoodadacha Publishing. and Aerosmith's publishing is owned by a blend of several, including Demon of Screamin' Music Publishing, acJuJu Rhythms, Pearl White Music.

I found their publishers by following the steps outlined in the article that you took as a "pitch" even though there is nothing there for sale.

If I caught someone using your footage (and by default, hard earned talent) in a video project without you knowing about it, I'd certainly let you know. Just like if I saw someone stealing your car stereo, I'd let you know or try to stop them. I hope you'd do the same. Just because someone can get away with stealing your car stereo in the night doesn't make it any less illegal. Just like being able to use copyrighted works in a wedding or other video isn't theft because no one catches you.

Lemme put it another way for you then, since you choose to be all up in yourself about illegally using music.

IF you get caught, your client(s) as well as yourself are civilly and likely criminally liable. You *may* be fined up to 2500.00 per violation. Your client may be held liable too, if they know of the infringement, and in today's litigious society, I definitely assure you your client would be attached to the lawsuit. Strike one future client and his associates from your list if that happens. That's without mentioning the potential of jail time. (up to 5 years) To my knowledge, no one has been jailed over copyright, but who's to say when that will happen first?

No one has accused you of anything. I've asked how you justify illegally using copyrighted works in a wedding vid, but not in a corporate vid. You say you can't find a clear answer on the subject, but there are scores of webpages, dozens of books, at least 8 videos I'm aware of, not to mention general knowledge that using other people's work is illegal if not wrong. That's why Kinko's won't let you copy a book, album cover, or artwork that you didn't author. They know they can be held liable, and have been more than once in the past.

www.weedshare.com, www.freeplay.com, www.jeffreypfisher.com, www.digitaljuice.com are all places you can find royalty-free music. But you WON'T find a big-name commercial artist's music there, because those sorts of copyrighted works are not accessible for small fees in most situations. they are certainly never royalty free. To give you an idea, to use the Celine Dion song "Because You Love Me" is shared by 2 publishers and 3 writers, plus producers share of the arrangement, and so use of the song is gonna cost in the neighborhood of around 10K just for admin and shares, let alone any additional licensing fees.

A user on another forum tried to license a Garth Brooks song, and the publisher told him to pony up 7500.00 just for admin costs.

Then there was the woman that wanted to use a Patty Larkin tune, and was told by Windham Hill that they believed in the cause and would bill out the 3500.00 fee, but submit it as a charitable contribution.

So, it is possible, but not easy and definitely not cheap.
If you re-read the article I pointed you to, you'll see exactly what has to be done, who and how to contact the owner, and what you can and can't legally get away with.

Since you didn't like it on my 'bare-bones' site, here are other links you can find it at, but they have advertising.



Aside from that, Brian, I hope you can eventually aspire to be a professional and recognize your own value as a talented and inspired creative, and in that self discovery, you just might find that you can then value the works of others, too.

Richard Alvarez November 29th, 2004 10:29 PM

Lets change the tone a bit....

Using someone else's work without permission is rude, and as Douglas pointed out... illegal. I am glad you are taking the time to find the proper way to do this. A lot of people don't care to make the effort.

The notion that "I am just small potatoes... no one is going to sue me for syncing their music to a wedding video/ kids soccer game/ Xtreme sport video ..." is probably statisticaly accurate, but why stand in a thunderstorm holding a lightning rod? You have posted your actions along with your real name on a public forum.

Aside from running the risk of prosecution, ethically its the 'wrong' thing to do.

Maybe it's because I am married to a copyright/trademark attorney, who spends a lot of time "counselling" big corporations on WHICH small potatoes to prosecute in order to protect their marks, (If they don't prosecute, then it falls into the public domain)... and she also does a lot of pro-bono work for small people who have "inadvertantly" performed copywritten music and plays - Believe me, its a problem you don't want to have to deal with.

Taking the time to look for the correct procedure is good. That's what the forum is for. Douglas' advice on securing the publishers rights is absolutely solid, as was mine on how to get "royalty free" production music licensing. I think Douglas was offended by the cavalier mention of copyright infringement... As any professional would be. "Do unto others" - I am sure you wouldn't want your commercial video footage - shot at great time and expense in Hawaii - pasted into somone else' music video , right?

Hope you can take the advice in the spirit it was offered, and find the information you need.

Good luck.

(Ahh I see DSE has posted ahead of me... 'nuff said)

George Ellis November 29th, 2004 10:39 PM

I do use a sync license person at www.copycatlicensing.com. She may do master licensing, but I do not know. Look at her Difficult list for a bit of education ;).

Bob Costa November 30th, 2004 07:08 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle : S'cuse me [snip]
www.weedmusic.com, www.freeplay.com, www.jeffreypfisher.com, www.digitaljuice.com are all places you can find royalty-free music. [snip] -->>>

I can't seem to find weedmusic.com. Is that the correct URL?

Douglas Spotted Eagle November 30th, 2004 07:15 AM

Apologies, it's www.weedshare.com
My memory is failing me in the later hours of the night, I need to drink more coffee. :-)
Add magnatune.com to that list too, since I'm dragging thoughts from my cerebrum this a.m.

Cliff Hepburn November 30th, 2004 09:42 AM

Re: Music licencing?
Thanks Doug, that was an excellent and informative post.

Bob Costa November 30th, 2004 11:51 AM

Thanks Spot. Coffee causes senility. :)

Bob Costa November 30th, 2004 12:22 PM


I am interested in why you elected to include WeedShare.com on your list. I could find nothing on the site that mentions any kind of republication or synchronization rights. In fact the only notice of rights I could find was pretty explicit that files could only be copied for personal use. That whole DRM thing looks like it could be messy. I assume the DRM stuff follows the music into Vegas, but maybe that is incorrect? So why would this site be useful for a videographer who needs music?

Douglas Spotted Eagle November 30th, 2004 12:28 PM

They may have changed their "tune" so to speak. They WERE selling music for Rudy Sarzo and a few other friends that were licensing via Creative Commons. I've not been back there for a while, sounds like I need to revisit it.

Jim Nicholls December 1st, 2004 06:56 AM

In Australia you can get a "domestic" licence for personal use of prerecorded material in AV productions including wedding videos. This is actually quite cheap and recognises/legalises home use type situations. It would be great if this were available in the US too as I suspect many wedding video producers would like a fair legal solution to using popular music in their productions.

Details are here with links to more copyright info:


Anything produced for commercial purposes will require proper licensing as per posts above. I would suggest you find out the costs of licencing the music legally and see if you client still "must have" it. If not rent some production music, or buy some suitable royalty free music (if you can find it!).

You may also try experimenting with looping type programs like Sony Acid. These can really add depth to a production and are relatively cheap. I attended a demo given by "Spot" in Melbourne (of all places) and what he can do with Sony Acid is amazing. (I've got to learn that program someday).


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