I'm looking for some advice or direction on music liscencing. I'm going to be producing a DVD for a client of mine and she wants to use some "mainstream" children's songs to carry the content of the DVD. Along with the DVD she will be selling a soundtrack on cd. So these songs will be on both. Now I'm looking for info on how to do this appropriately (legally). Can anyone point me in the right direction?
Legally the song belongs to the artist who wrote the song, the arrangement belongs to the composer and most likely they are in a binding agreement with a publisher who markets their product and represents them.
Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) exist which sell to the public the right to use or perform their member's music. There is a difference between a license which allows a group to perform a piece of music in a public performance and a license that allows them to record that music with the intent of making a profit (whether realized or not). I think PROs call the license a "mechanical license" and that license does not give you the right to reproduce the lyrics nor a cue sheet.
You need to locate the PRO of the song or publisher of the songs you wish to play. PROs in the US are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. (ASCAP.com BMI.com SESAC.com )For a list of PROs in other parts of the world, check out iamusic.com.
My advice is that if the client refuses to hire a copyright attorney, I'd walk away. In this type of post production work the worst case scenario is not that the DVDs don't sell and you don't get paid. The worse case scenario is that they do sell and you're not covered legally and you loose everything you've earned and them some.