Copyright Laws

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    • #42632

      As previous posts covering this same topic attest, I agree with the last post. I purchase each title through Napster, on behalf of my clients who have the right to copy and use music they’ve legally purchased for personal use. Posting any of this on the Web or for public display would be a copyright violation.

      This has all been argued to infinity, but the truth is that not one single wedding videographer has ever been sued or prosecuted for doing as outlined above.

    • #178828

      If I were to make and sell photo montage DVDs to customers who bring me their own background music, or pay to download the songs from itunes, would I be violating copyright law?

      I have been approached by more than one person requesting that I make them montage DVDs after they saw one I did for fun…my only concern is that I start doing this to make some extra cash, and WAM the RIAA comes after me for like 2 million dollars.

      I called a couple of these video places in town and posed this question and asked what they do to get around copyright, and of course they just shut down and refused to tell me anything.

      Does anyone know anything about this?

    • #178829

      The simple answer is that it is, in fact, illegal to use copyrighted material in your productions. This includes not only the audio, but unless they shot all photos, you can’t use them either. The majorityof wedding photos & professional portraits are legally out of bounds. However, you can find music at several of the web sites under the "Downloads" tab on this very site. All of them sell music rights, but many of them give away free samples you are allowed to use. So you could make legal productions.

      Now the reason the places you called didn’t say anything is that they may be doing it anyway. Some people figure that they’re making one program for one family, how’s anybody going to find out? It doesn’t make it legal, but some people figure that not getting caught is the same as not breaking the law. I hope you’re not one of them.


    • #178830

      I was reading a couple of months ago that that issue was being addressed (I believe on a WEVA post).

      In Australia, I was told pro videographers pay a $600 per year fee which allows them to purchase music (CD, Download, other legal mechanisms) and then include it on a per project basis (less than 10 units delivered, non-braodcast). I believe such as mechanism is being looked at the in the US.

      I could be wrong – I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

      Until that point, you have three options –

      1) Acquire the licensing (lots and lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ – very few do this)

      2) Use it and hope and pray you don’t get bagged (many videographers do this)

      3) Use royalty free music – There is some very good stuff put there for NOT an arm and a leg plus there are packages like Cinescore and Sonic Fire Pro which make this easy and affordable.

      Good luck in whatever decision you come to.

    • #178831

      Hi, I’m the new guy.

      jcain, re: itunes
      the agreement with i-tunes is that we can use it for noncommercial uses only.

      (I asked them if I could pay for a copy for each dvd I shipped, they responded with the previous sentence.)


    • #178832

      I charge for services, not products.
      When my clients sit down at the planning phase, They pay for thier music.
      I do my service, and at the end of the project, They preview thier project, and hit the burn to dvd button.
      My wedding customers are burning thier music to thier dvd for thier own personal purposes.
      The fact that I charge them for the use of my equipment, and expertise then becomes a light grey area that I’m ok with.

    • #178833


      As compusolver has already stated, there isn’t a month that goes by without someone like you asking this question. The posts listed prior to mine all make good sense and points but there is one thing that you have to keep in mind. The difference between "commercial use" and "private use".

      Commercial use would be like if you did a photo montage of the community you live in and then you started selling it for cash down at the city hall for anyone who wanted one. There using copyrighted music (in my eyes anyway) would be considered illegal.

      Private use is a little different animal. When a person (or couple) legally buys "their" music, they now have the right to play it anytime they want. It’s theirs! Now if they give you "their" music to include in "their" wedding video or "their" photo-montage to use, you could still interpret this as "their" music because they originally bought it. The only thing you did as a video producer was to provide the service of putting "their" music on "their" video. As long as they just view it with their friends and family, in my eyes they really won’t be in any trouble nor would you. The key as you may have noticed is that it is "their" music because they bought the right to listen to it and to own it. Now if they tried selling this for profit or you tried selling this for profit, then I would think you could be in violation of copyright laws.

      Now is this hardcore fact? Well if you get busted and everyone goes to court, I’m thinking because this is such a gray area that the one who has the best lawyer will win. X-D

      Honestly, I am not aware of any videographer getting dragged into court because of this either. Some say laws are laws but some of these laws are just to hard to police all the time. Shoot… on the way to work this morning I didn’t really stop completely at the stop sign. 😯 Nothing happened to me. The million dollar question with all of this copyright stuff is "what if" someone comes after me?

      As far as playing stuff on the internet, I’m thinking that all you’re really doing is displaying to the world that you used copywrited music. If you want to do that, use royalty free music like birdcat suggested. Then you will have nothing to worry about. Putting stuff up on the web with copyrighted music is like filming yourself robbing a bank and they putting it up on the web to show everyone. X-D

      This is my view on the matter.


    • #178834

      If you really want the exact answers to these questions (like what licensing you need – there are at least four different ones to put a top-40 piece legally into a video production – synchronization, mechanical, perfomance and distribution) you should really consult a lawyer.

      In lieu of that, a good reference is: – This is a DVD fron VASST by a lawyer that addresses many different aspects of copyright law as it relates to the video professional.

      If you don’t want to spring for the big bucks (it is $130), then try an article written by Douglas Spotted Eagle here: – It goes into many issues of what will and will not protect you, should you ever get taken to court.

    • #178835

      I find this copyright stuff very fascinating. It still comes down to the fact that it is to hard to enforce effectively. There are just too many people out there. For me, I almost always try and use Smartsound music which is royalty free music. I find that they have everything and plenty of it to use in whatever application or mood I may need it for. I’m not going to say that I never used any copyrighted music in projects either for I have, but it was usually at the request of the client(s). I do try and tell them that that this really is not right but it still always boils down to the enforcement and getting caught or not.

      The one thing that I knew about… and it was listed in that DV article was that it’s OK if the person who bought the song via a CD… copies it to his/her MP3 player "once" as a backup. It also threw the term "Fair use" around out there. Now… I see this as making a copy of copyrighted work right? So then I figure, what’s the difference if this person who bought the CD had it copied "ONCE" to a DVD video instead of a MP3 player? That’s why I mentioned in my last post about the client giving you the CD with the music they want on it used. OK, then in that same Q&A area in that DV article, it’s saying that you are just as guilty by copying that when editing. OK, so what if I had the client come over and physically push the button on my PC? Then it could be said that this person (client) who bought the CD made their one copy which it says is alright.

      As I already mentioned, I have my view on all of this and I’m not saying that it’s leagal by any means but this whole issue is just one big GREY spot. The BIG movie makers are watched like a hawk while us little movie makers are considered a waste of time to chase.

      What does that tell you?

      It’s all about BIG money baby! πŸ˜‰


    • #178836

      Here’s my take on it. On the one hand, according to some, it’s completely illegal, no question about it. On the other, there seems to be a fair way to return royalties to the copyright holders, (for example by purchasing tracks on iTunes or Napster), which is unlikely to be challenged by the ‘copyright police’ (and to my knowledge has not been to date). Who’s better informed? What is the best expression of the law – how it’s written or how it’s enforced? I’m convinced it’s a gray area not properly addressed by the law and therefore is not being enforced.

      But at the end of the day, what is actually ‘fair’ and ‘ethical’? Is the only ethical course to obey the ‘law’? (Not according to Amnesty International!)

      What can you do?

      On the one hand you can try to get permission, it will take a lot of effort and time, and you may be priced out of the market, denied use or even ignored. On the other hand by purchasing tracks on a per-use basis you are returning a ‘fair’ payment to the artist. The artist, however, may not agree the price you paid on iTunes is fair IF they challenged you, and you did not have their EXPRESS permission to use it. But in my opinion, why would you need permission for such usage, when it is virtually the same use as when it was played at the wedding in the first place? Haven’t they already given permission for ‘personal enjoyment of individuals and small gatherings’ by putting their song onto the open market and allowing it to be played by DJs and radio stations? (Only, DJs have a way of paying a fair price and easy method to use it (e.g. ASCAP fees) and videographers do not.)

      I personally feel that individual purchase of tracks via iTunes or Napster is a better way of returning royalties to the individual artist(s) whose work you are using than paying ASCAP fees. If they had the sense to come up with a special licensing arrangement to allow people to buy songs from online providers for this type of use, I think a whole new revenue stream could open up to them. (I am sure consumers doing wedding videos would happily pay a little more to have their favourite song on a wedding video instead of some generic instrumental ‘royalty-free’ piece.)

      However, the best way to clear this up is for the music industry to define clearly what their position is on using their music in commercially made domestic videos for limited distribution. I hope that they have the sense to realize that the best way in the "limited distribution commercial digital video services made for personal pleasure" realm (e.g. wedding videos and family reunions, etc.) is to work with software providers to make it feasible and fair for everyone to enjoy the music they like in the context they want it, while reasonably, efficiently and fairly returning dues to the copyright owners without fear of prosecution.

      In the meantime the jury is out on the topic until someone decides to sue a small-time honest videographer who is willing to fight it tooth and nail in the courts. I hope that the fat cats don’t win that one, but as has been said before, the one with the best lawyer will probably win. The fact that that case has not been brought to the courts is probably the biggest eveidence of where the music publishers stand on this issue. They don’t want to deal with it because they have bigger fish to fry (at present, anyway). The problem for us ‘small fry’ comes when and if they change their minds on the matter… for better or worse.

    • #178837

      Thanks to WEVA, this is fair and ethical:

      Well done you guys and thank you. This is exactly what was needed.
      I wish you every success.

    • #178838

      I know I am not the only one who has thought of this question so I am going to go ahead and ask.

      Before I was married 5 years ago, before I ever had a twinkle in my eye regarding wanting to do videography, I went around to all of the wedding festivals and asked if I could have a photo montage with my selescted music added. Of course all of them said yes. When I asked (in person) how they were allowed to do this without legal repercussions, the first thing I thought was, "This is a shady company."

      Now, I know I am not the only consumer that has ever thought this. I have talked to others who have thought the same thing.

      Let me pose a question to the Pros here:
      Does anyone ever wonder what you customers are thinking about the shadyness of your companies? Like I said, when I heard about how my local videographers conducted business (illegally on the music side) I decided that if they were cutting corners there, what would keep them from ripping me off. Stealing/lying to a music company or stealing/lying to me… what’s the difference?
      After visiting videography after videographer, I decided to record my own wedding.

      I have had 8 friends get married in the past 3 years and they ALL… Everyone of them… have expressed concern to me, over this same scenerio.
      That is a lot of people so you know many of your customers are thinking the same thing.

    • #178839

      Hank (compusolver),

      Please could you clarify?

      Do you mean that there is a difference of opinion on the Zoom License, or on the ethics of music use in Wedding and Event videos & slideshows in general?

      I’m new to the commercial side of videography and your statement has confused me.

    • #178840

      legal/illegal not easy question. Seems it’s really illegal. But try to analiz anything you see — what music do you listen to? most of mine are from internet, from friends, any licenced music. The same is video. It’s nonsense to pay attention for all those usual stuffs. Is vital importance only if it concerns good business.

    • #178841

      I may have missed it…but what about filming a car show and while you’re filming you capture the audio from an oldies radio station.

      This happened to me a couple years ago and I cut out the audio to that part of the dvd . I didn’t know what to do with it, except make the film of the car show like a silent film from the 20’s. Everyone seemed to like it (I thought it was boring without sound). But what about getting the Beach Boys off the radio while you’re filming on the street. Was I right the way I did it?


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