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james bannfield
client wants me to use copyrighted material
on Aug 4, 2005 at 1:32:41 am

I am curently doing a low budget broadcast program and the client want me to use music that has not been cleared, including commercialy aired songs.

I have asked him to make him self responible in writing, Am i legaly liable if i use that music?

James B

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reggie prescott
Re: client wants me to use copyrighted material
on Aug 4, 2005 at 3:39:52 am

if it's for internal uses. should be okay. if making more than a few dubs, airing somewhere, being shown to the public, then get a letter of indemnification.

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Bob Bonniol
Re: client wants me to use copyrighted material... JUST SAY NO !!
on Aug 4, 2005 at 4:57:23 am

Not only are you responsible if you use it and your client doesn't sign a waiver, you are equally responsible even with a signed waiver, if you KNOWINGLY use the music without rights.

Besides, lets say that a signed waiver made you hypothetically safe in the eyes of some judge... Do you have more money than the RIAA lawyers who you will have to face in court to 'prove' that ? Wouldn't you rather take a nice vacation with the family, and maybe put some money in the bank, rather than paying a lawyer to get you out of a tough situation ?

Be cordial, polite, and firm: You can't do it. Thats just the law. The penalties are too severe. Don't think for a second that you are somehow too small to be noticed, or are off the radar. The RIAA is suing TEENAGERS for downloading. They'll gleefully march you into court. I don't want to hatch conspiracy theories or anything, but c'mon, look at your thread subject: The internet is full of 'bots, harvesting subjects, topics, posts, whatever, that interest certain people. Google uses them to rate pages... You don't think the RIAA might use them to find pirates ? You might want to explain to your client the kind of liability they are opening their company to. The penalties for corporations are much more severe than for private individuals when it comes to IP infringement.

There are alot of open source music options, there is GarageBand or Acid... You could whip up your own. There are also good options for getting rights to something economically. Check out or, or just google 'rights clearances' for page after page of resources to do it legally... Which goes to the heart of the matter: My number one commandment in life: Just do the right thing.

Don't do it... It's not worth it.


MODE Studios
Contributing Editor, Entertainment Design Magazine
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Timothy Allen
Re: client wants me to use copyrighted material... JUST SAY NO !!
on Aug 4, 2005 at 12:11:39 pm

DON'T DO IT! (Sorry to shout, but it's important.)

The waiver will not keep you out of court or gaurentee a judgment against you, it may een point to your guilt, since it demonstrates that you most likely knew it was illegal.

In most states, (if not all), the producer is responsible for clearing the music, and securing rights to any footage used.

My advice - simply get permission to use the song from the publisher. Part of why we get paid the "big bucks" is to deal with things like that. Have you checked to see how much it would cost to get permission to use it?

This is a good opportunity to make a little extra $ in return for the additional work you need to do. Call the publisher, get the quote for how you intend to use it, tack on a 10% service fee for your trouble and bill it back to the client. Present it to the client as "in order to use that music, it costs $X." If they don't want to pay it, offer alternative music that doesn't cost so much for the rights. That's the professional approach to this situation.

It amazes me that clients don't realize that the music industry is an industry and it costs money to legally take advantage of the talent out there.

I'll bet the total licensing fees would cost less than the total court costs.


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james bannfield
Re: client wants me to use copyrighted material... JUST SAY NO !!
on Aug 4, 2005 at 4:24:58 pm

Thanks guys

James B.

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Walter Biscardi
Re: client wants me to use copyrighted material... JUST SAY NO !!
on Aug 8, 2005 at 11:58:20 am

[Timothy Allen] "DON'T DO IT! (Sorry to shout, but it's important.)"

Yes it IS important especially since he said it would be a broadcast show. You have no protection other than to obtain a legit license to the run the music in the show. One option that I use sometimes is to have my composer write a knock off that's close to the original, but different enough that it's an original composition. That costs a LOT less than the original song and certainly less than the legal headaches.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Creative Genius, Biscardi Creative Media

Now in Production, "The Rough Cut,"

"I reject your reality and substitute my own!" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters

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