Events with copyrighted content?

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    • #43157

      Greetings, I am new here and aloso pretty new to video as well. I am on the PTA at my kids school, and I thought of a way to raise some money. The plan was to record the Christmas program and sell the DVD’s as a fundraiser. Everyone thought that was an excellent idea, until the music teacher started talking about the “Copyrighted” songs the kids will be singing. It looks like this project may be going down the drain. Have you guys ever ran into troubles like these? Any workarounds/loopholes?


    • #180848


      Sorry bubba your music teacher’s got a point. If you were giving away copies of the play on DVD for free then it wouldn’t be much of an issue. The minute the stuff goes on sale, you have a problem. Now, one way you may get around it is to only use songs in the public domain. However, that will take some research and you’ll want to have hard documentation to prove it. It may not be worth the effort. Now on the one hand, you might be able to sell your DVD’s and be under the radar for a bit. But, I guarantee you some proud yahoo parent will post their ‘little bundle of joy’s’ performance on YouTube and it will be just a matter of time before some corporate lawyer’s knocking at the door.

      The only two ‘workarounds’ as you call them are 1) Use traditional songs (the older the better) that are in the public domain and perform them locally (do not use prerecorded music as that performance will certainly be copyrighted!) Or, 2) Locally produce original music for your play.

      The Fair Use Law is getting fuzzy with all the cases being brought against YouTube and other video posting sites. Better to be safe than sorry.

    • #180849
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      tell the music teacher to stay away from protected material.


    • #180850

      You really come off way more simplistic that life’s realities Grinner. I’ve learned to take your down home light-hearted, uncomplicated approach to, well, whatever and whenever you post where ever you post it with the proverbial grain of salt, but some people need a more objective, perhaps even SUBJECTIVE response, you know.

      I don’t know about THAT particular school, but the vast majority of schools with which I work have obtained the rights to perform whatever play, musical or even choral/dance performance – in public and on stage. So, to advise Nick to “tell the music teacher to stay away from protected material” is a bit over the top, especially if Nick has no input regarding the school’s curriculum or sponsored activities.

      It doesn’t matter if Nick wants to do this for free, as a favor, or for money. The problem and realities of the situation, as noted by Comp, fall in with the recording, distribution and/or sales of a video production of the event which is likely NOT provided for in any performance releases obtained by the school, or instructor.

      In MANY instances the schools with which I work have also obtained either the rights to videotape and distribute copies to the teacher and/or students for “educational” purposes, or even outright production and sales. If they have this release, believe me, they are aware. If they do not, well, they’re more than likely aware of that as well

      On another slope in practically ALL cases of which I’ve read or heard, not only in the arena of copyright infringement, but other legal arenas as well, it is noted that ignorance of the law is not a defense,

      Really, however, to cavalierly suggest that Nick can TELL the teacher anything would be as preposterous and presumptuous as you were in posting it.

    • #180851
      AvatarGrinner Hester


      perhaps Nick could hear my sarcasm and didn’t run out instructing teachers what to put in their programs.

      perhaps not.

      either way,when Kenny Rogers gets fussy.. it’s freakin’ funny.

    • #180852

      Haha, thank you for your help. No I havent told the teacher where to go yet, however it has crossed my mind. I guess there is going to be a little more work involved in this that I had hoped. I think eventually it will pay off. My biggest fear in all of this invlolved the “rules” of children and cameras, but that does not seem to be a huge issue.

    • #180853

      Hal Leonard,one of the larger publishers of educational music, granted uspermission to videotape and sell copies oftheir material performed in school productions in the past. The royalty fee was only a dollar a copy. When the schoolperformed scenes from”Annie”, I was unable to get permission and we did not produce a video. It isn’t easy playing by the rules, but there is satisfaction in knowing the copyright holders are fairly compensated.

      I lost a job editing a high school senior video because I would not agree to use popular songs as a soundtrack without paying royalties. This was going to be distributed to 350 students. They “always did it that way in the past” with “no problem”… I didn’t want the liability, and it was unethical. The school is prohibited from distributing copyright material without permission.

    • #180854

      I like the idea of using songs from the public domain. Maybe the kids could come up with original material: Christmas lists, what Christmas means to them stuff that’s not too difficult or profound. The music though, that would be a bugger…at least so close to Xmas…

    • #180855

      I am a television producer on a small European Island called Malta in the Med Sea, just below Sicily. I am also an American from New York, and studied Mass Media Comm. at a SUNY school. Copyright law was a big thing when i was in school and even for the time I was working in the states. Here it is a joke. I married a girl from Malta, which is what brought me here and working for the National Television Station. I constantly here Copyrighted music on air, at my station and at the five others on the Island. I tell my fellow techi’s that using thismaterialwithout permission is breaking the law, Not only US law But European Law as well as Maltese Law. Not only do they use music but video as well, even films shot with a DV cam and put onto air as if it were theirs for the using. The answer or comments I get back from them is: “Copyright What is that?” Though I work for the station and would be out of a job if some producer sued, I wish it would happen just to teach them a lesson. Britney spears, U2 and Film Producers, should visit Malta and see how they are using the songs and movies they own the copyrights to. Teach them all a lesson!

    • #180856

      I shot a Dance Competition for 16 hours straight and every performance had copyrighted music. Had would you word the contract, so if somebody comes after you that you put the responsibility on the organization or the people who buy those performances? I am thinking a contract would save your butt from somebody coming after you and put the responsibility on the other people. What do you guys think?

    • #180857

      Ya, unfortunately you can’t technically sell anything with copyrighted music for profit…. Would you ever get caught?… probably not,… but the music teacher is right. So, if you can’t convince the teacher that it’s not a big deal, I can think of 2 ways you could still use the video footage to raise money.

      #1 – You shoot the entire show, and then edit together a nice little montage with clips from the musical (without audio) and put some nice royalty free music in the background. I’m sure the parents would still love to see some professional-quality video of their kids performing.

      #2 – You create the video, but don’t actually sell it for profit… instead, you sell something dumb like a T-shirt, for around $40.00, and throw in the DVD for free. That way, you’re not profiting from the copyright music, you’re just giving it away for free to anyone who bought the T-shirt.

      Of course, I am not a lawyer, and therefore am not responsible for any legal complications =P

    • #180858

      “… sell something dumb like a T-shirt, for around $40.00, and throw in the DVD for free.”


      Nice try, but any lawyer worth their lunch money would pick that apart in no time flat because to get the DVD, you had to buy the shirt ergo you still drew a percentage of the sale off the DVD. That’s how merchants get away with that ‘buy one get one free’ thing. If it was ‘free’ you wouldn’t have to ‘buy one’ first! The price of the ‘free’ one is calculated into the price of the one you bought.

      Your first suggestion is the best. There’s way too much cheap royalty-free music out there to choose from unless you’re willing to pony up a hefty permission fee and royalties to use popular songs.

    • #180859

      Ya, composite’s right… my legal advise isn’t worth much, unless you’re looking to get sued =P

      I’ll stick to what I know, marketing

      Good luck with the RFM Nick…. I can tell you, tho, that you can hire a paralegal on craigslist pretty inexpensively. You’d want to make sure he knows what he’s talking about first… but one mistake I’ve seen businesses make is hiring a lawyer for $200 an hour, who then just pays some paralegal $15 an hour to write up some contracts.

      That’s the extent of my “good” legal advice =P

    • #180860

      Thank you TJ and Composite1! I don’t want to spend the $200 and hour, I like the $15 an hour for paralegal. Composite1 I would love to have those dancers perform royalty free music, but that is not going to happen. It is all copyrighted music.

    • #180861

      I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV – However, even just recording the copyrighted material (as far as I understand the DMCA) is a no-no. Even if you could, just using non-licensed music or video in a project is definitely against the DMCA (you need sync rights just to edit it). I looked into this a few years ago (there are many threads on VideoMaker and elsewhere – do a search) and to sell (or even give away) something that contained copyrighted material, you needed something like five separate licenses.

      If you are really concerned, please speak to an intellectual property attorney and get a real opinion.

    • #180862
      AvatarJennifer O’Rourke

      You guys crack me up. – Just sayin’. Thanks for helping The Nick B with this. Good advice.

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