Copyright Question

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    • #49686

      Hello all. I am editing my first wedding. I think I’m doing real good. Only this I am worried about is using the song they are dancing to in my DVD. This is the beginning of my business, and I don’t want any issues. How do I obtain copyrights to songs? I really only want to use one, “Lost in this moment”, this is a very popular song at weddings, so I assume obtaining the copyrights can’t be too hard. Any help is very appreciated.


    • #203336

      Sadly, to LEGALLY use the song, you’re probably lookingat big bucks to get the rights to it. It’s been awhile since I’ve looked for commercial music like that but excess of $10,000 would not surprise me.

      Somewedding videographers roll the dice that they’re not going to get caught. It was far less likelyback in the VHS days to get sued over songs because the tapes went from the videographers hands to the clients VCR and the record companies were none the wiser.

      But if your carefully crafted video hits the internet, there’s achance someone who caresmight see it.

      I’ve heard that some companies are using software to seek out their music online for the very purpose of finding illegal users.

      I’m NOT a lawyer. So, I’m not going to tell you to use it or not. It’s up to you to weigh the risks and decide what to do next.

    • #203337

      Tim; Wanna go for another guess? You would have to pay dearly for the use of the song. And you are correct using a song played at a wedding that is captured is copyright violation IF you sell the DVD. If you are making no money off this project and it is totally free (donations cannot be accepted-see Government vs Tele-religions from about early 90’s case). However if it is a paid for project it will cost yo several hundred or even into the 4 figure range, then you get into copy times, per use times, broadcast issues. A suggestion, royalty free music

      The link above takes you to Kevin’s site, if your project is a pay for project he charges $30.00 per song of un-restricted usage. I almost use his music exclusively, he writes good stuff and if it is a free project he just ask for a credit, if paid for, the $30.00. But it is all his own written music you would have to listed to every piece to find the right piece to fit the dance.

      It is good of you to approach this and to be careful.

      I wish you the very best.

    • #203338

      I know that the magazine had an article within the last few months and there was mention about wedding contracts and releases and some of it had to do with music that was being played at the event. Not sure if that article is posted on the website.

    • #203339

      Hi Tim –

      First let me say that I am NOT a lawyer. If you are truly concerned about this I would highly recommend seeking the advice of an intellectual property/copyright attorney.

      Many wedding.event videographers/producers break the law as it is currently written (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Essentially (for wedding video at least) it makes NO DIFFERENCE if you make one cent or a million bucks, if you use a copyrighted song without obtaining ALL the necessary rights ($$$) you will be breaking the law and subject to enormous penalties.

      That said, most wedding videog’s would go out of business if they stayed within the letter of the law and most use whatever music the couple asks for. Do I think the copyright police will come after anyone who does NOT post the video online? No – But if the couple likes your work and posts it themselves then YOU are at risk. There have been cases where wedding guys have been aggressively pursued in court for doing this (search these forums for many threads along these lines).

      Videomaker has much info – I would recommend looking here:

    • #203340


      For all practical purposes, you won’t get the rights. You’ll have to explain it plainly to your clients the rules have changed and you cannot legally use music you don’t have the rights to. Even if your clients signed a waiver absolving your inclusion of said music and that they’d take responsibility for any potential suits, you’d still get nailed. There are too many resources for ‘legal’ and ‘royalty-free’ music to even consider using mainstream stuff. There are also contracted music sources that have ‘knock-off’s’ that sound similar to mainstream songs and it’s perfectly legal to use them. Gets expensive though and may cut into your bottom line especially if you’re doing ultra-low budget wedding vids.

    • #203341

      All that being said. I was able to secure the rights to use piece of conteporary Christian music that had a lot of air play by emailing the artist. I did not ask for rights for the Internet. But I wasn’t posting it. They actualy had me email someone at their record co that was a division of Sony. I did have to Pay 99 cents to download the file.

      Sometimes you get lucky if you ask.

    • #203342

      Thought I read somewhere the industry had come up with a blanket license for wedding videographers, or was it a dream? lol I’d check with WEVA. ( I don’t do weddings, just to clarify, but am a stickler for copyright as any producer of intellectual property should be.)

    • #203343

      Just to give you an idea of how concerned music companys are, I have one video that’s been tagged for “Third Party Content”. It’s the song the DJ is playing in the background!!!

      Fortunately, the video is only blocked in some countries (for now). My point is, be careful πŸ™‚

    • #203344

      One more note about Incompetech: Kevin not only composes his own music, but he also has a few classical pieces that he’s either rearranged and/or re-recorded. The key here is, even if you’re using a piece of music from a long-dead classical composer, you could still be violating a copyright of whatever Philharmonic Orchestra recorded the piece of music you’re using. The piece of music itself may be public domain, but the recording itself may be subject to copyright restrictions. Just one more reason to use Incompetech.

    • #203345

      yes, the composition may be public domain, but the recorded performance is not.

    • #203346

      Here’s another place to get Public Domain music:

    • #205237

      Again, I too am not a lawyer, but have researched this a lot, as have those above.

      1) Get the terms correct.  You are asking for SYNCHRONIZATION rights.  That means you can only use the music in conjunction with a video production.  Means you can't make a music CD and compete with artist. 

      2) You need permission from song writer, maybe arranger, and certainly artist.  With small groups and original music, they might all be the same and you CAN get synchro rights from small groups or local artists.  I do underwater videos and have permission from two artists who write their own songs to use in my videos.  But they were careful to remind me not to use anything except what they wrote and perform.  They also perform parodies of commercial work, changing the words.  They have paid ASCAP or whoever for these rights in their CD's, but cannot give permission to anyone else.  It has been said that it's easier to pay and get rights to create a CD that is a composition of different songs and artists, than it is to get synchronization rights.  That's how Time/Life and others create and sell songs from the '80's and other such collections.

      3) Be very careful here!!  There is such a thing as Fair Use, but it is very limited.  Usually limited to reviews and such.  In general, less than 10 seconds of a song can be argued to be fair use.  For your wedding, make the dance clip about 5 or 6 seconds and let the music play.  That way you can include the dance with "their song" and hopefully not get in trouble.

      4) Make a 3 minute version to load online.  Make this part of your program offering and let client know they absolutely cannot upload anything else online.  That way you can create a separate short version without copyright music.  Put this in your written contract.  You do use one, don't you?  

      5) Even if using short clips for fair use in the longer production, put in the credits.  I show song, artist, and that it is available from music stores and even list a couple.  That way I am helping artist sell the work (still no guarantee you'll not get sued).  Also note the clip is short and used under Fair Use rules.  Absolutely necessary if you get synchro rights from local artists original music (then play the entire song if wanted).  As said above, if a local artist sings a classic song in the public domain, or original work, you still need artist permission.  If they sing a popular commercial song, you're in trouble without song writer's permission as well as artist.  Most songs are owned by mega-companies who won't give permission without $XX,XXX fees; there are exceptions but usually not worth research time.

      6) There are many royalty free sites.  Incomptech is a great one, and there are others.  I also have found much music from military bands.  Don't just think marching music, most large military bases also have orchestras, jazz bands, quartets, etc.  They have mp3 versions online and are careful to only make available classic, public domain, compositions.  Don't need permission as this is US military and their band music is automatically public domain (again, for classics.  they usually don't upload recent commercial songs even if they sometimes play them).  Again, make sure for yourself it is an older classic song.  I spent a couple days downloading these and now use them often.  Again, I give credit so all viewers know my legal source.  (That means good record keeping on your sources when you download.)

      7) Knock-offs are OK if they are reasonably different.  Gotta be careful here.  If the intended use is as a parody, probably OK.  But if intended use is to substitute for original commercial work, probably in trouble.  Remember, it's not just the words, but also the music, the arrangement, the artist, etc, etc, etc.  Every aspect is copyrighted, esp with commercial music.


      By asking and getting info you are starting your business off right.  Good luck,


      Washington State


    • #205251

      Tim – just a thought…..

      (I am not a lawyer)


      Make the DVD as the coupe wants.  Warn them that the music in it is copyrighted and, technically, it isn't supposed to be on their wedding DVD.


      Then – make them a 3- to 5-minute highlight video with Royalty-Free music and give that to them to share on the internet.



    • #207229

      Ideally you should use some royalty free music.


      They may run into problems if they post the video on YouTube.


      Don't even bother trying to get rights to commercial music on record labels.

    • #207231

      Thankfully today you can license some real music such as "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz, "Brighter than the Sun" by Colbie Caillat, and "Hey Soul Sister" by Train just to name a few at


      They have a license option for weddings that allow you to post on he web. Pricing is reasonable I think 34.95 per song. The also run some specials. 

    • #205214


      yes, the composition may be public domain, but the recorded performance is not.



      i realize that this topic is old, but you might also want to realize that with old public domain songs (ie. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day) the original arrangement may be Public Domain, but that doesn't mean that some one else hasn't created a different arrangement, like Johnny Marks did in the 1950's for he afore mentioned "I Heard…" song.  So, even if you get your own or a local band to record the song, along with their rights, you would have to clear the rights for that particular arrangement.

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