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A question regarding copyrighted music

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A question regarding copyrighted music
on Sep 1, 2005 at 9:27:09 pm

Got a question(s) and looking for an answer or two...
Here it is...
I am currently in the process of putting together a tv commercial for a local business. As I was piecing together shots and making up some graphics for the final product, I got a flash of inspiration (or a really big headache. Anyway there is a rather catchy tune on the radio right now, I believe by Brad Paisley, and I was thinking that would fit in perfectly with the commercial I am doing...
I know that is a no-go of taking that song and using it unless I pay the record company and Mr Paisley some big bucks...
BUT can I get a local band to record this tune with lyric changes and use it in my commercial? Do I need to change the music too? How much change is needed either with lyrics and/or music to avoid any copyright issues?
The best example of what I am thinking is that of a parody song similiar to what SNL or MADTV does on their shows.
What are the copyrights on using your own parody songs in commercials?
Any help you can give on the would be greatly appreciated....
Thanks in advance for all the help.

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Frank Otto
Re: A question regarding copyrighted music
on Sep 1, 2005 at 10:52:31 pm

A commercial differs greatly in that it is considered a mechanism for commercial gain, whereas SNL and MAD-TV and the like are mechanisms for entertainment. And that's only one point...there are several others including dillution, integrity of the original composition, artist not wanting to be aligned with a product, etc.

In using a copyrighted song for a parody, the use must be strictly that, a parody of the song itself, or a parody of subject matter considered part of the general public's interest. And clearing that hurdle, you are still compelled to attempt to secure rights - even the more well-known satirists and parody composers/recording artists like Al Yankovich, Stan Freberg, Peter Schickille and Paul Wharton - still seek approval from the artists before recording. So does SNL...NBC has a large clearance department...

There's a spot running now in about 50 markets that uses the "Ghostbusters" theme to sell cars. It is licensed, even though the music was newly tracked and the vocals are all man-on-the-street.

It would be better to have a local artist/muscian create a song that sounds close enough (yet different - notes/chord changes/tempo)to the one you're wanting and add the lyrics to that...cheaper too.


Frank Otto

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Seth Bloombaum
Re: A question regarding copyrighted music
on Sep 2, 2005 at 3:44:28 pm

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and am not qualified to advise anyone on copyright. Consult an attorney with experience in copyright and entertainment law.


My general understanding is that if you re-record a song with original or changed lyric, the only rights you're concerned with are those of the composer - not the record co. or the performer.

Many composers are represented by ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers); you might check with them about licensing the composition for your client's use.

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Seth Bloombaum
Re: A question regarding copyrighted music
on Sep 2, 2005 at 3:47:20 pm

Disclaimer - same as above.


One more thing...

And don't forget to get a copyright assignment from the local band you have perform the song! Best if you walk with your masters from the recording studio as well.

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