Reception Audio & Copyright Laws
I think I know the answer to this one but wanted to get input from the group. I know that there are issues with copyright laws and using music that you don't have permission for. Here's the question:
How are you handling shots for the reception, such as the typical dances such as Father-Daughter, Mother-Son, etc.? Are you just synching the video with your own Royalty Free music or something, or are you going ahead and using the audio captured from the camera/mics during the reception that the DJ used?
I want to make sure my stuff is legal and I was wondering about this. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.
If we are strictly speaking of "legality", you are not authorized to use any copyrighted music (without clearance) in a professional video.
If you pay close attention, you'll hear that even "America's Funniest Home Videos" will generally replace any copyrighted songs heard in the background with their own music on many submitted clips before airing them.
Documenting an event, such as a wedding reception, where the end product will not be broadcast
is different than syncing video to a cut of music that will hit air.
You should be just fine.
You will be fine until the client accidentally shows the video to their uncle who is a music industry attorney and decides to sue your #ss for copyright infrigement just to make you an example.
Consider the case of college students sued for illegal downloads. The same guy who advised you it would be ok in this case most likely gave the same advice to the kid who now has to fork up 25K.
Copyright infrigement has nothing to do with if a product is broadcast or not. Theft of intelluctual propery is theft regardless of where it shown. What matters is how much risk you wish to take and how you can defend yourself once you are caught.
However leaving the music playing in the background which was captured during the actual event is less likely to be a problem then using copyrighted music on top of the video since you were documenting the event and the client needed to have cleared permission to use the music at the event.
In this case you could get write a disclaimer on your production contract
that the client is responsible for copyright clearance of location sound/music issues.
[tony salgado] "However leaving the music playing in the background which was captured during the actual event is less likely to be a problem then using copyrighted music on top of the video since you were documenting the event and the client needed to have cleared permission to use the music at the event."
That's really the reason for the original posted question.
But taking your logic per se doesn't quite go far enough.
Playing the music "on-location" (Public Performance) is ONE type of clearance (for which the DJ or band is responsible),
but "use in a video" (Sync Rights) is ANOTHER type of clearance entirely.
(And guess who needs to arrange THAT?)
The music IS actually SYNCED to the VIDEO (sync sound, and the fact that, when played, the audio is "connected" to the video), and that the "new work" (the video production) HAS the music IN IT ("you" recorded and edited it that way)... this is the actual situation for which videographers are therefore liable.
Granted, music heard in the "background" should be a "lesser sin", but in today's climate of "emboldened-by-court-rulings" copyright-holders, it might be better to err on the side of caution.
And, consider this, if "Uncle Charlie" happens to shoot the same scene (audio and video) in his home video footage and "YOU" (the pro videographer) do likewise, which person might be held "more liable" if the case should come to litigation?
Wish it wasn't that way, but we all know it IS.
This is a gray area.
Strictly speaking, Thax is correct...you don't have a sync license for the music the DJ is playing.
On the other hand, there is an "incidental capture" rule, which says that copyrighted material that is not an essential part of the video, but is captured "incidental" to the main purpose, is OK.
There is also the point that you are not explicitly syncing music to the images (as you would be if you were using a CD as a music bed in post, for example). The audio and video were captured at the same moment.
BUT...when taping a father-daughter dance, one could argue that the music IS an essential part of the video, and therefore NOT OK (whereas dance music captured in the background of a guest interview would be OK).
AND...there is the point that it's going to be real difficult to sell a wedding video if half of the audio of the day is replaced with buyout music, including the special dances for which the bride picked out the music. Especially since "Uncle Charlie", who's not doing this for profit, can tape the dances all he wants and make copies for the family.
AND FINALLY...this is a VERY minor technical violation, for which there is endless precedent, and the record companies have not acted against it. Therefore, if you should, by some infinitely remote chance, get sued for it, you could claim selective enforcement.
It's just not in the same league with downloading music and sharing it with a few thousand of your close friends.
I now use buyout music for all my music beds, but I don't hesitate for a moment to capture the church organ, the choir, the soloist, or the reception music. (I do NOT, however, use music captured in this way with any other video. It stays with the images it was captured with.)
I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. But that's my take on it.