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cell phone rings

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Perch
cell phone rings
on Sep 30, 2005 at 8:47:48 pm

Okay - I need to find some answers to yet another client conundrum.
I just received a spot from a client for broadcast, which they produced themselves. It contains a cell phone ring that is a song. The whole spot has "We Will Rock You" ring. It's not the actual song, but tones.
My question is, are cell phone tone rings copyrighted material? I can't see how it couldn't be... since it is still a song which someone had to compose.
This client is not a cell phone company.
TIA - TC


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Dave LaRonde
Re: cell phone rings
on Sep 30, 2005 at 10:40:14 pm

Okay, now I'm confused. Is this a ringtone for a cel phone that you download? Or is it simply punching the keys on a regular telephone, so the tone combinations sound vaguely like a known melody?

Ringtones are definitely copyrighted material. Just because some dope paid a couple of bucks to download it to his phone does NOT give him the right to use it in a TV spot. It DOES give him the right to listen to it when his phone rings, and that's IT... that is as far as his rights go.

Your client could probably get away with the telephone tone generator scam... and I do mean scam. Because the telephone tone generator combines two pure tones to make its sound, he could argue that he was using the OTHER tone present to create his own melody, however crappy-sounding that melody may sound. He'd just better be prepared by writing down that crappy melody on sheet music and squirreling it away in case some law firm sends him a Cease and Desist Notice.

God, I'd hate to have your job. Furniture store owners making their own spots with a hand-held mini-DV camera and home editing software with NO lights, NO decent mics, NO concept of what they're doing...
clients trying to dodge copyright fees by recording sounds off their phones...
and no support from management. They really have to start putting their collective foot down, or pretty soon it's going to be their necks on the line. Don't they get that?

Just wait: one of those DIY TV Spot clients is going to pull some really stupid stunt like wearing a Julia Roberts mask to pitch a used car dealership, and get both himself and the station in hot water for the unlawful use of someone else's likeness.

If something like that happens, make sure you have a paper trail of memos, emails and letters to both management and client outlining your position. When they try to fire you for their own bonehead mistake, you'll have some evidence you can take into court.

Better safe than sorry, I say. CYA, especially if your GM & sales managers are refugees from careers in used car sales. From the way it sounds, I bet one or the other is.


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Dave LaRonde
...and one more thing:
on Oct 3, 2005 at 3:17:49 pm

...don't ever, Ever, EVER let Jimmy Buffett music go into any spot that you air. The good Mr. Buffett is highly protective of his intellectual property, and it is his right to do so.

If you're in a top-50 market and you use Jimmy Buffett music, you can expect to hear from his attorneys.


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Frank Otto
Re: ...and one more thing:
on Oct 3, 2005 at 4:04:57 pm

Re: Buffett:

They're pretty protective of his image as well. We shot a Buffett concert when the Flamingo opened the LV Margaritaville. His staffers ( seemed like a group of ol' blue hairs - mommy types) almost went shot-for-shot over the concert tapes, deciding what we could or could not use...(no...looks too old...no, looks like he's stoned...ok - up until he turns - we don't like his hair that way...)

The concert was a hoot - they took a 6 acre pool site (three pools in a themed island setting) and filled them in with sand, creating a beach so they could do the concert. Ther real kicker was the guy who rented the sand traded out the sand and transport for ten tickets to the concert - that's 150 large 32' live well dumps full - about 25k worth of the stuff.

Cheers,

Frank Otto



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Perch
Re: cell phone rings
on Oct 3, 2005 at 4:26:34 pm

Thanks Dave! I feel like the copyright police sometimes. But it's like I'm the only one that cares about it. It is amazing some of the crap that people try to push onto TV. I can imagine how a Julia Roberts mask would go over in this market - did she sell her house in Santa Fe yet? ;^)
I think it is about time to get management involved. Even though the spots are produced out of house, they end up on our air.
Thanks. TC


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Dave LaRonde
Re: cell phone rings
on Oct 3, 2005 at 5:15:03 pm

Amen to getting management in on it! It's high time to voice your concerns, because they are very real. They are NOT imagined. And it's always best to do such things before the situation becomes confrontational.

They need the station attorney to explain how copyright law applies to TV commercial production. They need to know what they can and can't do. They need to know what their liabilities are, and what the clients' liabilities are, too. After all, it's not good form to get your paying customers in trouble because of your ignorance; there's a tendency for them to stop being paying customers.

I'm more than a bit surprised to learn that they got to management positions without knowing this stuff.


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