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Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation

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Craig Seeman
Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation
on Dec 8, 2011 at 7:54:20 pm

Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation

This topic comes up so often that I thought it an important read. BTW some of us see request for such music in corporate videos as well. All the more reason to show your clients and simply point out that violating copyright shouldn't be done at all.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:54:03 pm

The demo was really pretty. The music was effective.

I think where the problem is, is mostly in lower-tier operators and their clientele, where it isn't a "movie" being made from the footage but more straight, linear documentation. They assume that anything the mic catches at the reception is legit, and the customers have little patience with explanations of legalities by the shooter. IP rights are byzatine and roccoco to us pros in the business, they are even more incomprehensible and counter-intuitive to the typical wedding video customer. They feel entitled to the pop music they want, and they will keep asking other shooters until they get a "yes". Ever try to "educate" A "BRIDEZILLA", or the "Mom-zilla"?

I wish we could adopt some laws similar to what the Aussies haev going for events video producers. They are much more flexible about this kind of useage there with an easier way to pay fees so the record companies get *something* back in exchange for not hassling small operators.

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Craig Seeman
Re: Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation
on Dec 8, 2011 at 11:26:52 pm

There's Zoom.
See WEVA LicenseStream as well.
Limited selection from what I understand though.

BTW, while music being played at the wedding and recorded in the process of recording video also needs rights clearance, I'm not sure that's what videographers are posting online. I suspect it's the ripping of pop tunes and editing sequences to it and being used in demos online that's the "flag" being caught.

BTW this also happens in the corporate video world. Corporate clients sometimes request using a pop tune for a segment claiming it's only going to be viewed internally. I know of a case were someone got burned because an employee who saw the "internal" video was laid off shortly thereafter and brought a copy of the video to a lawyer (talk about extracting revenge).

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Martin Curtis
Re: Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation
on Dec 11, 2011 at 11:52:30 pm

In Australia, wedding videographers can get a Domestic Use Video Licence.

"Under the joint licence issued by AMCOS and ARIA, you may record an unlimited number of weddings or other similar events per year, but for each event you may only make:

  • a maximum of 20 copies under the Standard Format scheme; and
  • a maximum of 30 copies per event under the Standard plus CD-ROM scheme.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation
on Dec 14, 2011 at 10:47:58 pm

It was only a matter of time before this happened. I too like the demo video on the original link - very classy, nicely shot and you don't miss hearing Beyonce or whoever.

Now at least wedding shooters can have this conversation:

Bride: And we want 'You're the Sunshine in my Underpants' by the Black Eyed Turnips to be our theme.

Videographer: I understand. However we cannot legally use that song. I'll select some licensed music which will fit your theme.

Bride: How about if I give you the song on a flash drive? I paid the 99 cents so I own it.

Videographer: Technically you paid for a copy of the song, however the record company sees it differently. If I use this song and sell you copies of the video, I can be sued. Will you sign this contract agreeing to cover all of my legal fees?

Bride: Mommy!!!

Mother: Go take a xanax dear, I'll handle this.

Now let me get this straight, you want to take my $3,000 and then say you won't do as you're told? This is outrageous.

Videographer: Well Ma'am, perhaps you had better find another vendor. I cannot assume the risk you are asking for.

Mother: We got the same story from the other guy across town.

Videographer: That is correct.

Mother: So it is your way or the highway?

Video: Basically, or you could have your uncle Frank shoot it with his iPhone.

Mother: I've heard the iPhone takes nice video. But it is a rectangle that doesn't fit my tv.

Video: Agreed.

Mother: So will you agree to use the music we want?

Video: I'm sorry I cannot afford to pay a large settlement. You see, there is now a legal precedent, Columbia vs Smith, in which a wedding videographer like myself was sued for $150,000 for using one song in a wedding video. While the settlement was lower it was still 5 figures. I cannot assume that risk, can you?

Mother: No.

Video: So, are we still working together?

Mother: My brother is a personal injury lawyer. I'm going to ask him what he thinks. What was that case?

Video: I have a printout here.

...time passes...

Video: Hello?

Mother: Mr. Smith? This is Mary Jones. I spoke to my brother. He suggested we do it your way.

Video: Thanks for understanding. I'll do my very best to create a wonderful keepsake of your daughter's special day. I'm glad we can work together.

Mother: Me too.


I'm glad too as it means I will never have to listen to Beyonce again!

Mike Cohen

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Gary Huff
Re: Wedding videographers sued for music copyright violation
on Dec 16, 2011 at 11:24:23 pm

First, the headline is misleading. One wedding videographer was sued. And that one wedding videographer had created a wedding video for a sports celebrity and put it online. It got played on ESPN and other networks, and that's when he suddenly had a problem.

So if you are shooting celebrities and getting national airtime with your wedding video, you had better be careful. Otherwise, until we start hearing about Jim Bob and Sue Ellen's wedding videographer getting sued, I don't see why this can't be business as usual.

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