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Dance Recital Question

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Tyler Groom
Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 1:15:27 am

Hey Guys, a dance instructor has asked me to film their dance recital and sell the dvd's. My question is this, Do I need to get any clearance in order to sell them? I thought I might, because they will be dancing to copyrighted music. So I am okay to just do it or do I need to get some kind of clearance, or are they liable for performing it in the first place? Thanks


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Steve Wargo
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:59:17 am

Regardless of copyright, no one cares about you video taping their event. However, don't do the job based on sales.

You need to get paid just like any other job. Supply the program DVDs to the dance school for $5 each. Let's say you charge $350 for the job and they have orders for 50 DVDs. You have an invoice for them for $750. They sell the DVDs for $15 each to break even or $20 to make a profit.







Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
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Tyler Groom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:33:43 am

So what about the copyright, because the music they will be dancing too will be popular music that they will play off of cd's?



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Mick Haensler
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 3:55:17 pm

Yes you will be breaking copyright laws. But as Steve said, noone really cares. When you have a magazine claiming to be "The Authority in Event Videography" not only endorsing breaking copyright laws but printing articles showing you how to do it, it is highly highly doubtful the authorities will come a knockin. The bigger issue is getting paid a reasonable amount for the gig. As Steve said, get a fee plus a per copy amount. This way at least you will cover cost, which is usually all you can hope to do with these types of gigs.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 4:54:45 pm

[Mick Haensler] "When you have a magazine claiming to be "The Authority in Event Videography" not only endorsing breaking copyright laws but printing articles showing you how to do it, it is highly highly doubtful the authorities will come a knockin. The bigger issue is getting paid a reasonable amount for the gig."

I would beg to disagree here. The bigger issue is the copyrights which have been violated by both parties in this scenario. Likely, the dance school has not licensed the performance rights (which is why our local dance academy has licensed a much less expensive performance piece than they once did, as they did run into performance issues and had to pay fines).

The truth is, a magazines that documents ways to break the law is NOT a smart magazine. Eventually, one of their readers is going to run afoul of the law and when they get sued, they will name "The Authority in Event Videography" as a culpable party in the matter. And they will be right and will have documented proof to that affect. The magazine will find themselves in legal hot water, which is why you won't ever see anything like this in Creative COW Magazine.

Odds are, you can get away with this. But you are still playing the odds. The truth is, "Russian Roulette" uses only one bullet in a six shooter whose shell magazine chamber is spun and the odds are just 16.6% that you will be the one whose head is blown off if you play. Still, someone is going to eventually "find the bullet."

Me, I'd question the advice and value of any publication that encourages people who want to claim the rights to copyright and protect their own work, to so freely dismiss the rights of other copyright holders.

Using their math, if I like any of this magazine's articles, I can help myself, right???

You can't have it both ways: if musicians and artists can't enjoy copyright protection, then why should your (or the magazine's) rights be respected?

That's the real bigger issue. The issue of payment is merely a walk down a self-justified distraction in a pursuit that is eroding the rights of content creators of all kinds.

Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronlindeboom
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Dance Recital Question -- a final P.S. on the subject
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:16:19 pm

I am always amazed when I read these kinds of posts and threads, as I cannot help but feel how the original poster's words would be so different if they discovered that their work had been used somewhere else by someone who wasn't respecting their rights.

The wording would likely be something like...
I just found that some of my work has been used by someone who has taken it without my permission and is stealing it without any form of compensation.
It's funny how the rules change when it's convenient. It's even funnier still how indignant you would likely get were it your rights being violated.

Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
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Mark Suszko
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 5:44:02 pm

I'm with Ron on this one.
If you're really a businessman, I can't imagine why you would take this kind of risk regarding copyrighted stuff. While it is true you are a very tiny fish in a very large ocean, when/if you get caught, the hook still hurts just as bad. The stakes could be your gear, your car, your house. Or you could get off with a warning. You just can't know.

I did stuff like this when I was young, reckless and stupid and the law was less clear and there was less enforcement and no internet, so I was much more anonymous. Today, the risk is small but not one I'd be willing to take.

On the other topic, the easiest way to lose money on these kinds of projects IMO is to take on the sales and collections yourself, or lay out a lot of time and expense then wait hopefully for sales to dribble in in small drips and drabs. You'll go broke. My suggestions are:

Get your money up front for your time and materials. Then you can wait around for extra dub order money later, but don't expect a lot of orders after the initial surge, because you will lose a significant amount to piracy. Not to mention, the buying audience for recitals is usually pretty narrow and limited to friends and family.

Establish a minimum pre-order amount, calculated so you will make your expenses and a profit, and nobody gets advance copies, they all go out the same day. If there are not enough advance orders to make this worth your while by the deadline, don't take it on.

Make collecting the pre-orders the client's problem (or one of the alpha stage mothers who has a kid in the show). You can't afford the time to chase down these sales one by one. The client/ user community buying your product is the best resource to police the copying/piracy issue if you make it in their interest to prevent it, they have the connections and peer pressure to enforce it for you. Back when I was briefly in the video yearbook business, I saw this: the kids would pool their lunch money to make one, lousy, stinking order, knowing they were going to pirate dozens of VHS copies off the one master, later.

You can't beat pirates; like car thieves, you can only make it unprofitable or too time-consuming to steal with a view to re-sale. If a pirate can buy one for $30 and make dubs for $2 each and sell those for $20, he will. He'd even sell pirate copies for ten, if there was enough volume to make it worthwhile. But, if you sell the originals for ten bucks or less, he's not going to see enough margin in it to make it worthwhile to sell such a low volume. he'll pick a fatter target. Trick is, can YOU make any margin at the per-unit price? If the DVD is mostly underwritten by sponsors or advertisers, I believe the answer is "yes".




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Tyler Groom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:48:51 pm

SO if I am young and not truly a businessman, and I am only selling like 40-50 copies, should I do it or not?



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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:59:52 pm

If you live at home, your parents can be made legally responsible for you and they could lose all that Mark Suszko laid out in his comments. So, if you are in that situation, think what they stand to lose, just so you can make a few bucks.

Don't let yourself get started in this kind of business where "chump change" is the end result -- if anything. You will be chasing chump change time and again if you do this.

Focus on getting some business for a real project that you truly control and can have the legitimate rights to and sell to people who are interested in the subject.

Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronlindeboom
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
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Mick Haensler
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 8:45:19 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "[Mick Haensler] "When you have a magazine claiming to be "The Authority in Event Videography" not only endorsing breaking copyright laws but printing articles showing you how to do it, it is highly highly doubtful the authorities will come a knockin. The bigger issue is getting paid a reasonable amount for the gig."

I would beg to disagree here. The bigger issue is the copyrights which have been violated by both parties in this scenario"


My apologies Ron. I was in a hurry when I wrote that. I didn't mean to down play the seriousness of breaking copyright laws. I just know from past experience that the Event Videography Industry seems to be OK with it which is one of the reasons I got out of it. Bottom line, if the Feds decided to make an example of someone, the entire industry would crumble....IMHO. Just look at the awards videos on the 4ever Group website. Almost every one is using copyrighted music. After spending 3 months unsuccessfully trying to get the rights to an 80's pop song from Warner for an ad campaign I'm working on, I doubt very much any of these award winners secured the rights to their productions. I am open to being compeltely wrong on that.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media





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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 8:48:49 pm

You don't owe me an apology, Mick, and I was not taking issue with what you said, per se. I was more concerned as to a magazine encouraging this kind of thing. That was my real issue.

My apologies to you for not being clearer about that.

Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronlindeboom
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
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Steve Wargo
A little more info
on Feb 24, 2008 at 3:54:12 am

I am completely against copyright infringement so I'll go ahead and post a little more info on the whole dance thing.

A lot of companies that use music in shows and recitals have an "Amateur Performance" ASCAP-BMI license that they pay about $500 a year for. This covers using the music during lessons and then during their performance for Aunt Betty and Grandma.

However, it is seldom that they have actual mechanical rights that cover the video guy shooting and selling the product. This is why I recommend that the client do the selling.

Now, as for my own history, we had an assignment a few years ago (11 now that I think about it), and the client, the country's largest community college district, and they needed a song from Shaquille O'Niel. We called his record company and left a detailed message. The owner of the label called us at home that evening and thanked us for asking because most people just run with it. He gave us a verbal clearance on he phone and followed with a legal document the next day. But, what he told us was that they have this problem every day and it would take a full time 20 person legal team to stay on top of it. He went on to say that it costs him a thousand bucks to send a cease and desist order to someone by the time they go through finding them, getting an address and putting the wheels in motion with the attorney's office. And this is with in-house council. Next, he said that they realize that people "use" their music all of the time and it took 10 years just to get party DJ's to sign license agreements. Additionally, they do not consider all of this minor stuff to be stealing because the people are not really trying to steal anything. They're just "using" it.

So, even though it's not really right, they really don't have a problem unless they feel that they have actually been injured (financially). This was different for the DJ business because that's how the DJs made millions. One thing he said was that it is actually illegal to play a CD in public. So, at what point do you press the issue? Napster is a good example of when the legal battle starts.

One thing that a lot of people don't know is that ASCAP-BMI pays rewards for blatant CR infringement. People who work hotel AV can fetch some $$ by turning in the big companies who are playing "We are the Champions" or whatever.

So. my advise is "Don't do it" but if you do, nobody really cares.

On another note, the music industry is going after some housewife who decided that CDs are too expensive and she downloaded a bunch of music, made hundreds of CDs and sold them to her children's friends. They want $20K from her and they are not giving up.

One more thing: When we needed the college piece, they also wanted a piece from Smashing Pumpkins. That was $100,000. We didn't buy it.






Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
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walter biscardi
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 8:20:55 pm

As others have already noted, copyright issues are definitely in play here both for the Dance Studio and for you if you take on the job. The big issue is you will be getting paid per copy of DVD so you are getting paid to shoot and edit a project using copyrighted material. You will be the producer so you will be held liable for all fines that result from the lack of rights clearance for the project.

Will you get caught? Probably not, but I'm not one to ever take that chance. If the dance studio simply wants to hire you to record the event and then hand them the tapes, do that. Then you're just getting paid for your time and you are simply documenting the event. Let them make the DVD's and charge people for them on their own and leave you out of it.

Charge them no less than $350 for your time and equipment.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

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Tyler Groom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 8:27:39 pm

So if I hand over the tapes am I breaking any laws? What if I edit one dvd and then hand that over to them and they do with it what they want?



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cowcowcowcowcow
Mark Suszko
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 9:17:45 pm

Look, by no means do I claim the title of professional ethicist or legal counsel.

But a major rule of thumb to look at that has always worked for me is: "did any money change hands at any point?"

If it did, that's the place to begin looking at liability issues. Anybody who turned over a buck in the perpetration of the copyright violation could potentially get dragged into the mess.

If the dance school charges tickets or admission, they are in trouble potentially because they got money in exchange for performing the work without all the clearances. If you say all you were doing was documenting the event, and you recorded uncleared music, and they paid you to record that, you may still be in some lesser amount of potential trouble, at least you're going to get hit for the amount you were paid.

You may say that this is so unlikely as to be in the category of lightning strikes. Fair enough. But I remember an incident that was relatively famous. A New Jersey corner bar owner had Bruce Springsteen on his jukebox. An ASCAP guy stopped in to have a brew. Next thing you know, the bar owner gets a CAD letter from Bruce's attorneys. A local theater recently was having public audience sing-alongs to a popular TV show (the all-singing episode of Buffy The vampire Slayer, a show that's not even on the air any more) just as a goof and a fun charity fundraiser. Killed by the Fox Network and production company, the charity barely got away with being able to keep what had already been raised. An Italian restaurant had "Sopranos Night". Cancelled by lawyers. Same with another such place playing Sinatra over the PA.

Nowadays, there are any number of people that would like to make a fast buck turning in violators for a bounty. Or what if some lawyer or paralegal in the audience gets miffed that his 200-pound daughter Elsie didn't get the lead in the Swan Lake bit, had to settle for being in the chorus, and decides to anonymously turn in the school as revenge? You think things like that don't or can't happen? You can bet on human nature, friend, it can and does.

I read in some music magazine a while back about a guy that made a demo video for one of the big music expo shows to demonstrate some product, and he used uncleared Pink Floyd music for the big screen, big sound system demo. Guy comes up to him at the trade show and hangs around a bit, making admiring comments here and there about how nice the music seemed to cut with the images. It was David Gilmour. AWKWARD!

Okay, so you're not making any demos like that. What about stuff for your OWN demo reel though? Do you think showing clips with the uncleared music is going to impress a prospective boss? Or show him you don't know what the score is professionally. Meh, maybe it won't make a difference. Then again, it might. Feel free to call me over-anxious on this. When you get to my age, and have more to lose, lots of things that are minor risks end up being less worth taking, from hanging out of Jet Rangers with no safety line, to betting my income and savings that somebody with an axe to grind will not take the time to rat me out to some corporation with a lot of money and legal resources I can't afford to fight.

Hate it? I do too. Defying or ignoring the law is not the answer here; the answer is to change what's wrong or unjust or plain impractical in the law. Make your legislators aware of your problems and feelings about the state of copyright in this country. Tell them we need some intermediate step, maybe something like the system in Australia that basically allows wedding video makers to use the copyrighted songs in limited ways for a reasonable flat fee and no 9 months of paperwork and contacting different rights holders who each have different rules and amounts they want. We need some kind of middle ground that respects and preserves copyrights but reduces the more ridiculous barriers and threats of lawsuits. Right now, media company lobbyists like Disney and Sony run the table on how the laws are made and whom they serve. You need to start talking to legislators as voters, as an industry, as a constituency needing remedy. An election year is the best time to get their attention.



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Christopher Wright
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 9:48:42 pm

I don't know how your local dance company works, but I do many dance performances where the local dance company pays for the rights to use both the music and choreography (if it isn't their own original choreography) and also acquires the rights to sell DVDs of the performance as fund-raising for their non-profit dance companies as well.

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Tyler Groom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 10:59:28 pm

So how do I find out if they have the rights to perform and sell dvd's?



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Ryan Mast
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 11:08:13 pm

Ask to see the letters or emails they got from the rights holders (or administrators). They should say something about a mechanical license, synchronization license -- something to that effect. Sometimes the papers will tell you what precisely to put in the credits for that song.

A tangential note and question... I understand that some licenses for stage productions state that they are allowed to make one recording of the performance for review and rehearsal purposes, without paying for and securing any extra rights. So, if the performers hire me to tape the performance only for "rehearsal purposes," am I liable if they take that recording, duplicate it, and sell it? There's a couple situations where I was very skittish about copyrights, but the client didn't care about the risk and said they were happy to take all responsibility -- is there any way to document that so that I'm not liable in that situation, and that the client is solely responsible and liable for securing permission from copyright holders?



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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 11:49:59 pm

[Ryan Mast] "is there any way to document that so that I'm not liable in that situation, and that the client is solely responsible and liable for securing permission from copyright holders?"

Doesn't matter. Just because a client might tell you "It's ok, I will take the heat" or even "I've taken care of the licenses, don't worry about it" doesn't remove you from responsbility if they have not taken proper legal means to protect both themselves and you.

In an extreme analogy, if your buddy needs money and asks you to rob a bank ("I'll drive the getaway car, but you're so much better with people") and tells you not to worry about it that if you get caught he will take the blame... well... I'm sure you can imagine how that would end up.

Extreme example, I'll admit... but just having a client tell you it's ok to do something illegal doesn't make it any less so.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Tyler Groom
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 23, 2008 at 11:58:17 pm

SO can anyone show me an example of a videographer getting taken to court because they filmed a school dance recital and sold dvds?



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Mark Suszko
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 24, 2008 at 2:34:26 am

In a message dated 2/23/08 6:10:20 PM, businessmarketing@creativecow.net writes:
"SO can anyone show me an example of a videographer getting taken to court because they filmed a school dance recital and sold dvds?"


From a fast google search:

http://www.news.com/2100-1030_3-6156021.html

and

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/061117/myspace_universal.html?.v=7



Quote from another discussion thread via google search:
May 15th, 2003, 08:22 AM
"Rick, the problem is that the same law that protects the big bad recording industry also protects the little guy (you and me). I doubt you'll see it that way until you've had something that you've created ripped off. Believe me it's the same feeling as having your car stolen. I know because I've had both happen to me.

I was walking through JC Penny one day and saw a T-shirt with my photograph on it. I bought a shirt and contacted my attorney. The T-shirt creator had seen the image in a book and virtually copied it directly to the shirt (he took a couple of branches out of the background). To make a long story short, I got $10,000 for the image. I feel full justified in getting paid for the damages I suffered and am thankful there are laws that protect the little guys."

Here's another quote from the google search:

"My Voice, My Choice
Page 7 of 8

So, copyright violations are civil, not criminal. Even if I get caught, what’s the worst they can do to me?

First, while copyright violations are indeed civil and not criminal, new laws allow criminal prosecution in cases where over 10 copies of protected material and/or 2500.00 was transacted in the process of copying. So, if you make 25 copies of a wedding video, and you were paid more than 2500.00 for the shooting, editing, and delivery of that wedding video, watch out. Most attorneys will admit that this law is more or less untested at lower levels but it does exist and is a straw to be grasped by the copyright holder. [an error occurred while processing this directive]How long do copyrights last? Can I just wait for the copyright to expire and then use the copyrighted media?

Copyrighted works are generally protected for the life of the author plus seventy years, or in the case of works made for hire, ninety-five years from the date of first publication, or ninety five years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. So, don't wait up too long if the work you want to use is fairly recent in nature. You'll be well past grey by the time it's available. The term used to be shorter, but the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act changed all this in 1998. You've noticed that the local drugstore has signs that say "Cigarettes sold to those born before 1985 ? Similarly, due to the SBCTEA, the first year that all works enter public domain will be 2019, when works from 1923 become PD, or Public Domain.

I shoot a lot of dance recitals and then sell the videos to the parents. The dance instructor has since informed me that her dance choreography is copyrighted and I can't sell the videos without paying her a royalty and obtaining her permission. She says I'm covered for recording the music and I believe her because the dance studio has an ASCAP sticker on the window.

The dance instructor is right in saying that the dance choreography is copyrighted. She is wrong in saying that you are covered for the music because she pays ASCAP or BMI fees. ASCAP and BMI cannot and do not issue sync licenses. Unless the music being danced to is Work For Hire composition, you cannot make reproductions of the dance recital, period, without a sync license issued by the copyright holder or their representatives. "

............
Those were all quotes pulled from the first quick search I did.

Okay, me again now.
No, I did not find you a specific case from that quick a search, then again I don't have Lexis/Nexis or the specific legal case database access of a law firm. So I guess logically, that means you're in the clear Ryan, forget everybody's admonitions against it, go ahead, the bell and collar are over there, the litter box is over that-away... and the cat is nearby somewhere. You have absolutely nothing to worry about, we're all just worry-warts cowed by nonexistent boogeymen.....you are much too small to ever be noticed or sued by anyone. And if they DID sue you, no law firm will EVER search the net for your real name in connection with this topic and all the advice that's been traded over your inquiries. So you're as safe as houses. Really.

We'll just stand over here by the mouse hole with the silly cowards and watch and root for you from here. Just one question:

Can I have your stuff later?

:-)





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Mark Suszko
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 24, 2008 at 12:05:26 am

Ryan, so you're asking, if a guy is going to commit some kind of crime, grift, or tortable offense, using you to assist in it and enable it, but he writes you some kind of a "get out of jail free" note saying you knew what they were doing was against the rules but it's all on him, you were just the getaway driver, and not to go after you in any way, some judge is bound to honor that? Doesn't sound that great out loud, does it? Man, if I could just have one of those letters or marque like legal pirates used to have, huh?:-) ( I'm being playful to make my point, and not running you down, really, just pointing out the fallacies here and you're not the first to ask that question, it's a good question to ask.)

The crook or in this case copyright violator doesn't have the authority in the first place to give you some kind of absolution or immunity. Which is what essentially you're asking when you ask for a waiver of responsibility like this. How much use sucha thing will be in court is questionable, IMO.

(IANALawyer but did stay at a Holiday Inn Express)

Bottom line: You are a legal adult that made a free-will choice to do or not do something, for pay, the law assumes you know what the rules are before you do that. If you are part of the plan to make money off the copyright without clearance, I think you're quite possibly in danger of
taking the fall with the guy if somebody sues.

But as has been suggested, maybe the dance school DID get the right kinds of permissions, and we're all haring off in the wrong direction for nothing...

I've heard of that one-recording-only thing, but the way I've heard it from theater friends, it usually has to be erased at some point after its been used a time or two, or you're in breach of contract.

Which makes sense if you think it through: all these people work very hard for long hours, usually without much advance pay to create the stage performance so you can come experience it live. To sell or give away copies to an audience is to rob them of the chance to do their thing more often, to discourage more people from coming out to the show instead, and by extension steals from the actors or dancers chance to make their money and their living from doing their thing. Even if it was legal, it doesn't sound very moral.

Myself, I think I could be okay with shooting it for free just so the actors have a copy for themselves. I have done that many times for friends who have written and performed their own material so they own all the rights to start with. For me and these friends, the copyrights issues are moot.



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Ryan Mast
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:14:33 am

Thanks for taking the time to explain things. Personally, I really do want to honor copyright laws and make sure artists get paid -- it's what's fair, it's what's ethical.

But in actual practice, it is very frustrating. If I do what's right and follow the law, I cannot compete with some guy shooting dance recitals, band competitions, school productions, whatever, who never even gives copyright laws a second thought. One time, a client got mad at me and said I was just being lazy and a liar, when I refused to let him put a performance of a copyrighted song in a video. In the end, I caved, because I really needed the job.

It's just that, at the level that I am (and I presume Tyler is) working, there is much less understanding among our clients of copyright laws and implications. And we are (or at least I am) competing with other students and home-grown videographers who don't mind taking on the copyright risk.

I really do want to do what's right and fair, but I'm tired of fighting with clients to convince them that it's a good thing -- because the client ends up spending more money, or I get paid less, or they take the job to someone that isn't a stickler for this kind of stuff.

Also, in my experience, when we do go through the work to secure and pay for rights, often more money is spent on people-hours to contact people and companies, deal with paperwork, etc. It's a lot of hassle, a lot of middleman. And it seems each artist and record label has different requirements, different limitations -- there is almost nothing standardized about the procedure.

Sorry, I suppose I'm just venting now. I'm just trying to make the best of the situation while doing my best to do what's right. And I'm tired of clients treating me like the bad guy when I tell them they have to get releases to use their favorite song. If there'd be some way to just shift all that responsibility and liability to the client and force them to make the moral call without me being a party to it, that'd be so much easier.



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Steve Wargo
One more thing, again...
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:40:53 am

What we need is a document that you put in front of the client who says that "It's all taken care of". The document needs to state that the client has announced that they have all necessary music rights and that they, and they alone are responsible for any violations and that they will bear all legal expense and pay all legal fees and that they are completely responsible if any court action arises out of any said violation etc, etc etc. They are also responsible if said video company suffers any loss or embarrassment bla bla bla.

If you could ask the question, get the answer and then whip out the document that they now have to sign in front of witnesses, who must also sign, I think most would get cold feet and refuse to sign your "silly paper".

I've gotten to the point where I refuse to even discuss it.

Now that I've brought up the silly paper, I think I'll talk to my rights people and see what I can really do. I talked about it for years. It's time for action. (marching music please! "Clearanced" marching music, at that)

I'll copyright it and license it to all of you if you want. Cheap, of course.




Steve Wargo
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Steve Wargo
Re: Dance Recital Question
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:20:52 am

Tyler,

The answer is "It's wrong to do but you'll probably get away with it and no one will ever know". We do not want to give you any bad advise and you'll have to decide.

We use a gal in New York when we have these questions. http://www.bzrights.com

Steve Wargo
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It's a dry heat!

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5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
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2-Sony EX-1.


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Bob Cole
intimidation factor
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:16:05 pm

I feel your pain, Tyler. Not to add to your paranoia, but this thread will probably show up in a Google search.

I couldn't agree more with the suggestion that "we the people" (of whatever nation) need to start speaking up about issues of copyright and fair use. I was threatened by the attorneys of a major company because I asked whether I could use a still photograph I owned in a documentary; the image showed a peasant wearing a tee-shirt with an American logo on it. I probably should have ignored the letter, because the point of using the image was to show the global penetration of American cultural icons, and I now believe that would be "fair use." For me, it was just one shot and I took it out, but there are examples of documentarians having their projects killed or severely damaged in similar situations.

Yesterday I heard a great presentation by John Palfrey of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society; his research shows that the current rights system is widely ignored by the younger generation and needs radical reform for the sake of both the creator and the user. Yet the huge media companies continue to use the old intimidation tactics of screwing a few people royally as "examples," rather than adjust to the new digital reality.

If you want to do something about this, there are a number of good avenues, including supporting the potential congressional candidacy of Lawrence Lessig of Stanford. Look up "fair use" and "bound by law" on Google where, as I have to remind you, this whole thread is probably already indexed.

That was a great suggestion to use a form letter requiring clients to certify that they own the rights to such-and-such for such-and-such use. A good client should actually appreciate your thoughtfulness, as they are a lot more likely to get sued than you (they have more MONEY). Does anyone know of a good letter on the Net that we could all rip off? Oops....

Bob C

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Ron Lindeboom
Re: intimidation factor
on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:52:29 pm

Bob,

I was reading along merrily thinking to myself that "Bob, you have written a nice thoughtful reply here," when suddenly my mental train jumped the tracks and was derailed as I read...

[Bob Cole] "That was a great suggestion to use a form letter requiring clients to certify that they own the rights to such-and-such for such-and-such use. A good client should actually appreciate your thoughtfulness, as they are a lot more likely to get sued than you (they have more MONEY)."

This sounds logical and reasonable but it legally doesn't hold an ounce (or 0.029 liters) of enforceability. As many others have cited in this thread and elsewhere, you cannot absolve yourself of legal culpability by participating in an illegal activity with a form fixing the blame on someone else. In most countries of the world, the fact is that all participants in a crime share equal responsibility -- at least in theory.

No such form exists (that I have ever seen) and there is nowhere to download one as it would hold absolutely no legal weight in the present scheme of things.

Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
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Bob Cole
Re: intimidation factor
on Feb 24, 2008 at 5:21:48 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "No such form exists (that I have ever seen) and there is nowhere to download one as it would hold absolutely no legal weight in the present scheme of things."

No, Ron, we're still on the same wavelength. I was assuming that the client had made or could make a legal arrangement for use, as in, for example, a music library which is licensed by usage. Such a letter would help to remind the client of his/her obligation to report. Another example would be the incidental and unavoidable background presence of licensed music at an event for which there is some other limited license arrangement. I'm sorry that I wasn't clear about that, because the context of the thread was the dance recital situation, which has red flags flying all over it. You're absolutely right to object to the idea of a cop-out letter.

By the way, some music libraries have made sound-similar cuts of famous compositions which can help mollify a client and keep things legal at the same time.

If Fair Use is an issue for you, take a look at http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/. Another good page is the bio of Lawrence Lessig at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Lessig.

Thanks for the compliment Ron!

bob

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Steve Wargo
Re: intimidation factor
on Feb 24, 2008 at 10:43:20 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "No such form exists (that I have ever seen) and there is nowhere to download one as it would hold absolutely no legal weight in the present scheme of things."


Hey! I wrote that. What I was trying to get across is that clients love to say "I have it covered" when they really mean "I don't care". As much as it wouldn'y hold legal water, it might make them think about it and back off from the demand. How many of them actually know anything about copyright law in our business. They're usually corporate bullies who are never held accountable.

But, this brought something up in my little brain:
I sat across from a client a few months ago talking about a cruise ship promotional project. His present ad piece has a piece of Frank Sinatra's "Fly me to the Moon". I asked if he had the rights to the song and his astounding answer was "I don't need the rights to that. They would go after the production company, not me". I stood up, without a word, and left. After all, what could you possibly say to someone like that?

His office person called me later and asked if I would be coming back. What a hoot!






Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Steve Wargo
Actually, I didn't write that bit ...
on Feb 24, 2008 at 10:56:18 pm

Actually, I didn't write that bit ... But I did suggest it.

One more thing to add. Years ago, in a land far far away, when were cranking out VHS tapes by the hundreds in my garage, we could not afford Macrovision, so, we put a sticker on the tapes that said "Protected by the SNT anti-copy process. We are in no way liable for any damage that occurs if someone should attempt to copy this tape." Followed by some federal law number that has to do with copyright. It's amazing how many people were scared to death that their house would burn to the ground if they hit record while our tape was in a machine.

This could fall under the catagory of "Lies that work".





Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

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Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
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Mike Cohen
Re: Actually, I didn't write that bit ...
on Feb 25, 2008 at 4:18:07 pm

This is an urban legend:

A man was so proud of his young child's ballet recital, featuring music from the Little Mermaid, that he sent the videotape to Disney. Disney sued him.

I don't know if that is a true story, but it is in the spirit of this thread.

Someone mentioned sound-alike stock music. That is a very good idea.

This makes me think of nearly every NBC made for tv movie - they all use no-name bands doing covers of hits. To the audience, this background music is familiar, but no doubt a lot cheaper for the network.

The same issue applies to shooting a wedding.

Just say no.

Mike



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Mark Suszko
Re: Actually, I didn't write that bit ...
on Feb 25, 2008 at 4:43:08 pm

Another example of that, I'm into RC model airplanes. This one guy really liked the aerobatic team that used to fly at airshows sponsored by Holiday Inn, in their trademark green color and with their logos. Guy made a quarter-scale Pitts Special that was the spitting image of one of those planes, won contests with it. Sent a proud papa pic to Holiday inn... and got a C&D letter from their lawyers.

A particularly odious one to me is, there are a number of small one-man manufacturers in the RC plane making business, making little models out of styrofoam profiles. From the side, they look real, from the front they look flat like pancakes, not dimensional. One such, Roadkill RC, got leaned on heavily by Lockheed Martin, who told them they could not make models of WWII fighters like Lightnings and Mustangs and bombers like the B-17 because the plane's designs were copyrighted by Lockmart, hurting sales of the product, (they still make B-17's?!?!) as well as "revealing trade secrets" (on 1940's technology?) and RoadKill needed to pay huge licensing fees that would bankrupt the small shop.

After a lot of negotiating and soul-searching, the company decided to pay up, because Lockmart promised them if they did, as "official licensees" of the designs, they could have access to actual Lockmart files, blueprints, art, documentation, and marketing help, which could in theory make their product way more popular with modelers and lucrative. And other makers would be prevented from competing with similar designs.

Except Lockmart never gave them any of that stuff, took their money and never called back... The company eventually just dropped making any WWII American planes, just Axis "bad guy" planes. Protests to Lockmart reached a guy in the upper management who was appalled by this and checked it out. The lawyers that started this were not lockmart company lawyers at all, but an outside firm contracted to help police any and all copyright violations on a fee per case discovered and prosecuted basis. Basically bounty hunting. The legal mess is still in process, Lockmart refuses to make exceptions for kids flying models of planes originally built with US tax dollars in 1947, even stuff they never made at their company, but was once made by a company Lockheed bought up or merged with.

THAT's how crazy the situation is; We're still fighting WWII apparently. We really need to go back and tweak the DMCA and all trademark and copyright laws under the next president, whoever that is. Make your feelings known. Write your congressman and representatives and favorite candidates.


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Bob Cole
Politics & money & copyright
on Feb 25, 2008 at 4:55:58 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Make your feelings known. Write your congressman and representatives and favorite candidates."

A major flaw of our system is that large lobbyists have access and we don't. So flawed legislation, affecting copyright, health care insurance, etc., keeps getting enacted.

Check out the "draft Lessig" movement if you want to have a real impact on this situation. He has "moved on" (pun intended) from focusing on copyright/Internet freedom issues, to lobby reform. Unfortunately, we're unlikely to have the one without the other.

Bob C

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Jeff Bach
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 2, 2008 at 5:07:41 pm

Not meaning to hijack an old thread but.....I was reading Mark Suszko's all start posting and stumbled across this one.

My first thought was "what about all of the wedding videographers who capture that first dance and all the subsequent dances, INCLUDING the music being played in the background?"

Seems to be to be the same issue in play.

Jeff

Jeff Bach
2WheelFilms / Quietwater Films
Madison, WI.


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Bob Cole
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 5, 2008 at 3:53:08 pm

Maybe the music industry doesn't want to fight true love. Or, maybe they're just too smart. Think of the negative publicity: greedy international conglomerate sues to deny newlyweds "their song."

Bob C



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Randy Wheeler
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 5, 2008 at 3:57:58 pm

What happens when someone in the music industry gets married and has a video done with music?

Randy


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 5, 2008 at 4:11:52 pm

[Bob Cole] "Maybe the music industry doesn't want to fight true love. Or, maybe they're just too smart. Think of the negative publicity: greedy international conglomerate sues to deny newlyweds "their song.""

You are kidding, right, Bob?

When the RIAA has sued kids and their parents (the legally responsible party), do you honestly think that they care one twit about romance or that the couple considers this "their song"?

I know lots of famous musicians and nearly all but the A-List ones are broke, cheated, been screwed out of royalties and publishing rights, and would tell you that the industry has no such conscience as that which you have ascribed here.

Before the Net, I think it was harder to "catch and corral" those who were breaking the law. Today, I suspect that as event vidographers grow and become more and more public, the RIAA will come down on some people to set examples.

It is one of the reasons that I always turned down wedding video work when I was asked. I did one and spent more time explaining why I wouldn't do what the bride wanted that it was something I never wanted to do again. Besides, she wouldn't even write me a letter of referral, imagine that. ;o)

Ron Lindeboom


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Bob Cole
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 5, 2008 at 4:18:26 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "You are kidding, right, Bob?"

Thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt! But I was serious. Naive, perhaps, but serious.

I don't do weddings either, so I may be ignorant as well as naive. I was just curious as to why I haven't heard of wedding videographers getting sued for featuring "the song" from "the dance."

As far as the morals of the music industry are concerned, your information might also provide the answer to Randy's question about what happens when people from the music industry get married and want to use "their song":

"It'll never happen. People from the music industry love themselves too much to settle for getting married to someone else."



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David Roth Weiss
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 5, 2008 at 4:42:32 pm

[Bob Cole] "People from the music industry love themselves too much to settle for getting married to someone else"

Bob,

I think you're confused. That's people the movie industry you're talking about.

David

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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Politics & money & copyright
on Nov 5, 2008 at 6:43:05 pm

[Bob Cole] "People from the music industry love themselves too much to settle for getting married to someone else."

Too funny, Bob — funny, but mostly true.

:o)

Ron Lindeboom


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