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Asked to steal

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wiremu harpuka
Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 4:32:01 pm

Hi there
I wanted to ask (and also vent) about acquisition issues. I am a freelance editor and in the past 4 weeks have been asked to steal audio for clients.
Both times it has been put another way and both times some feeble and disingenuous excuse has been given as reasoning.
One client is brilliant, pays well and is a joy to work with; the other is a new client with dog-work that would pay all the bills.
For the former I have done everything I can to get cheap, or free, audio and have even paid out of my own pocket to help (big deal, I know). But I am angry at being put in this position. I have an audio guy who is very talented and I get him as much work as I can, but he too is fed up with an attitude that seems to be widespread...
Rant over - any thoughts?

wiremu


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Mark Suszko
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 6:05:22 pm

So if I read this correctly, the client is telling you to use music without proper legal clearances for it?


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wiremu harpuka
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 6:14:52 pm

Absolutely.


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wiremu harpuka
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 6:19:57 pm

I wanted to add; not only that but they want me to find it and download, and or, find it and rip it.


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walter biscardi
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 6:22:29 pm

The answer quite simply is "no."

If you do this then you are the one who is going to take the fall should it come back to bite you. You did the download, you ripped it into the format required for editing, you put it into the video...

In other words you are going to do everything illegal. Your client is simply asking you to do it, but they get no blame for it.

You have the choice to say no.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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wiremu harpuka
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 8:04:37 pm

Yes, thanks for putting it so well - it is good to see the facts stripped of the chatter around this sort of question.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 8:47:38 pm

Sadly this is too common even in corporate video.

If a client hands me music that doesn't seem like royalty free (sound like a known tune) I'll ask if they've cleared the rights?

If they ask me to rip music the answer is a flat no. I'll offer Smart Sound library selections or they can select buy out music of their choice otherwise.

Often clients will give excuses like "it's only for internal viewing." That's a ticking time bomb. I once worked in a facility where another editor did this for one of those "internal viewing" videos. Shortly after the viewing, one of the employees viewing was laid off. The employee had a VHS copy (that long ago) and decided to get revenge. Well the short story is the music rights holder won the lawsuit.



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Andrew Rendell
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 7:34:55 pm

I consider that there is such a thing as professional reputation, it's hard won and easy to lose. As such, where I might be happy to "bend the rules" under certain circumstances in my personal life, I do not break the law in my professional life unless there's a damn good reason to do so (and I'm sanctioned by someone who is more, or at least just as, legally liable as I am).

Where the general public might reasonably be unaware of the intricacies of intellectual property law (copyright and so on), there isn't IMO any excuse for someone working in the media not to have a basic knowledge of what's allowed and what isn't.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 7:58:03 pm

My standard answer to clients that ask to do this:

"Sure, as soon as I hear from your legal department that it's been okayed".

This almost always kills the bad idea at the soruce. They may not believe it comign from you, but their own internal legal office is not to be ignored. Moreover, they will often be too scared to even ask their legal department, so the illegal copy idea dies quick either way.


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Todd Terry
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 8:11:27 pm

Obviously a no-brainer, you don't do it.

Nor would I accept "suspicious" tracks from them either should they decide to provide their own, without documentation that they own the rights. I'd never ask for that from one of my usual clients who provides their own audio, but in this case they have not only proven they are willing to steal it, but ask you to do the dirty (and illegal) work for them.

You might need the work, but it'd be even tougher to pay the bills while facing a gigantic (and I mean staggeringly big) monetary judgment against you from Sony or BMG or other big outfits with deep pockets and lots of lawyers.

That, and it's just plain wrong.

T2

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



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wiremu harpuka
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 8:41:14 pm

Thanks for your comment - sound advice (so to speak).
Unfortunately, or perhaps otherwise, I am not always at the level of dealing with Legal Departments, In this case it is a small company making vid' for consumers (let us call them "happy couples")...I have just been told that it is not "stealing" and that the producers/distributers of the music do not really "mind" as the demographics are not really an issue!

Point is; at least several people are making money in the process, while others are deemed, by reason of distance, not worthy.

The question is still alive, though, even at this humble level I think. As the poster above rightly made the point that reputations are hard won and easily lost...

I think I may be wittering-on so I will stop for a second :)


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Bill Davis
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 9:06:55 pm

Maybe try this.

Just say "I'll happily to rip off this music, but first you've got to give me a copy of your car keys."

They'll ask "why?"

Reply that if you're going to be forced into a game where it's cool to steal from other people merely because it's easy or convenient, you'd like to be fully prepared when the game moves to the next level.

;)

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Craig Seeman
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 9:18:40 pm

And don't forget to tell them that when you take their car it's OK because it's only for internal use. Only family and friends will be passengers.



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Mike Smith
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 13, 2011 at 8:25:42 am

You could offer the client that you'll contact the owners of the rights with details of the project and ask for a prioe for clearance for the music.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 13, 2011 at 2:37:03 pm

[Mike Smith] "You could offer the client that you'll contact the owners of the rights"

That's a service you'd charge for given the time it would take. Rights procurement should not be a free service given what's involved.



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Alan Lloyd
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 12, 2011 at 9:19:58 pm

I was on a festival judging panel several years ago, and a corporation had entered multiple issues of their internal employee "video magazine" for consideration.

They were wall-to-wall with things up to and including Sinatra and The Beatles. The responses from the panel to the first one were largely incredulity, but by the time we got to the third one, they had turned outright vicious.

And when I was freelance editing (different occasion) some years ago, a client wanted to use an easily recognizable pop song. I declined, citing potential liability. The facility owner concurred and backed me.

Don't do it.


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Steve Wargo
Re: Asked to steal
on Aug 15, 2011 at 2:40:34 am

Bzrights.com

Steve Wargo
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