ASCAP wants YouTube users to pay

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; better known as ASCAP, is targeting videos on YouTube for royalty payment for it’s professional creative members. This is a good thing for producers who work hard at making their product, only to see that someone has “borrowed” some of that property clips for their own use. But the average consumer who just wants to make a simple video using a well-know song as their music bed might get confused.

According to this recent report from Digital Media Wire, if you make a cute little video using copyrighted music, and place it on your own personal blog or non-commercial website, you won’t be targeted, but if you post it for the masses, you will. Or something like that. As copyright laws for intellectual property goes, it’s always muddy, and only attorneys seem to be able to interpret them.

For instance, our Art Director, Melissa Hageman, made a compilation slideshow video of her family which with a small portion of the video playing with an Allman Brothers tune. She posted it to YouTube to show family and friends and a few weeks later it was taken down and she received a warning.

I recently made a cute little video of my grand-daughter growing up, for her 4th birthday, using the title song for Billy Dean’s album: “Let Them be Little“. It’s a lovely little song to edit to a child growing up. Can I put it up on YouTube to show my friends, no(I think…). Can I put it on my own blog or website? I… think… so…

On its forums, YouTube has asked users who receive “pay royalties or else” requests to refer the person making that request to YouTube. In other words, if you get a request to pay up, tell them, “no way, talk to YT”.

What exactly would it cost the YouTube user afterall? Does anyone know? If they made a simple Paypal button for a nominal fee, most people would probably gladly pay up to be able to use their favorite song in a family-fun video.[image:blog_post:13826] But has anyone ever tried to contact copyright holders to get permission? Each recordn company, record producer or copyright holder has their own way of responding, and most don’t respond at all.

Other sites are talking about the news, but everyone seems to be unsure of what it means to the end user.

Our contributing editor, attorney Mark Levy has done several stories on copyright protection, and recently, with the explosion of the YouTube-like websites and the ease at getting videos online now, you’re going to see more battles in court. It’s time to dig out that construction hard-hat, who knows what flying legalese will fall down on us next!

Seriously, let’s face it… most consumers don’t have access to royalty-free libraries, and less still have the ability to make their own using music creation software. It’s OUR job, as video producers to know these things and how to use them, but does anyone else out there know what the law really means to the average YT user?

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Jennifer O’Rourke is an Emmy award-winning videographer & editor.