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A possibly dumb question


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#1 David Calson

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 12:10 AM

Do I need permission to use copyrighted music to play on my demo reel? The reason I ask is I've seen some professionals on here with copyrighted music, just wondering if they were actually able to get the okay or if there's some fair use loophole.
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#2 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:31 AM

I remember this thread from 5 years ago on CML. A lot of mixed comments on this but I say use whatever you want. Who cares? They won't comer after you.
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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:48 AM

No disrespect to Tom Jensen but I would not take his advice.

Yes, you do need permission from the copyright holder to synch music to video. That is very clear.

If this where not so why can't I just take any piece of copyrighted music and use it in a indie movie I am making? Why do movie credits contain all those music clearance credits at the end?

Contrary to popular belief a demo reel is not exempt. Guess what wedding videos are not exempt either and many wedding video producers have been prosecuted by the record labels and had to pay substantial fines.

It's a bit like speeding, you will get away with it 99% of the time because there are far more speeders than police to catch them, that is true. It doesn't mean however that you will never be busted for speeding.

R,
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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:48 AM

It's a very common practice to use copyrighted music on demo reels without permission. No, you're most likely never going to have any problem doing so. It's absolutely not the same as using copyrighted music in an indie film or wedding video because you're not trying to sell it. I'm not a copyright attorney, but I believe the spirit of copyright law is to protect artists from having someone use their work for a profit without sharing the money with the original artist. If that is indeed the case, which I believe it is, then there is very little reason, if any, to go after someone using copyrighted music on their reel. There's no money in it for the attorneys or the artists, so what's the point?
Make your own decision of course, but I wouldn't sweat it.
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#5 Hal Smith

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:51 AM

There is one source of copyleft (as opposed to copyRIGHT) music and performance I know of: http://pan.zipcon.net/HOMEPAGE.html . It's all classical music, including a few copyright free performances by James Galway. If you can use anything there it's free and no license is required since the music is covered under a Electronic Freedom Foundation copyright agreement which basically only requires you acknowledge where you got it from and that further copying is allowed with the same acknowledgements.

If you're familar with GNU licensing for software the EFF license for music is much the same.

The only downside is that technically the music on your soundtrack can be freely copied but that wouldn't apply to dialogue and picture since copyleft licenses allow you to copyright your additions to their property, just not what you got for free from them. For instance, most Linux systems are like that, the Linux kernel is copyright free but added utilities, etc. can be copywritten.
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#6 Rob Vogt

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 08:27 AM

Imagine ASCAP or BMI cracking down on Youtube Anime music video makers. Once that starts happening is around the same time theyll go after people with reels of any sort.
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#7 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 11:58 AM

No disrespect to Tom Jensen but I would not take his advice.

Yes, you do need permission from the copyright holder to synch music to video. That is very clear.

If this where not so why can't I just take any piece of copyrighted music and use it in a indie movie I am making? Why do movie credits contain all those music clearance credits at the end?

Contrary to popular belief a demo reel is not exempt. Guess what wedding videos are not exempt either and many wedding video producers have been prosecuted by the record labels and had to pay substantial fines.

It's a bit like speeding, you will get away with it 99% of the time because there are far more speeders than police to catch them, that is true. It doesn't mean however that you will never be busted for speeding.

R,


Hahaha, I knew this was coming, I just didn't think it would be so soon. You aren't profiting from your demo reel. An indie film or wedding video is not a demo reel. You are making money on those. I have never met anybody who has ever been sued for using a piece of music on a demo reel. If someone finds out that you have used your song on a demo reel and are not happy, they will more than likely ask you not to. Look at all the videos on youtube.
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#8 David Calson

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 12:18 PM

Okay thanks for the input guys, the reason I'm so cautious is, unlike sk8terduude84 on youtube, I'd be using my real name for professional purposes, just don't want to be looked down upon.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 12:41 PM

Hahaha, I knew this was coming, I just didn't think it would be so soon. You aren't profiting from your demo reel. ...........


By your logic Ford Motor Company isn't profiting from a TV ad for a new car, so why should they pay for music licenses? A reel IS a commercial/professional use. You place your reel on a website to solicit work, not to let your buddies know how great a Cinematographer you are.
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#10 Daniel Hueque

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:08 PM

The best thing to do would be to ask a lawyer who knows the law, or buy a book that describes the law to you in detailed layman's terms. People guessing the law on a forum will (probably) lead to inaccurate information.

That being said, you can get good common sense advice on forums still, such as the fact that you can probably do your demo reel and get away with it. Who knows, if it's illegal, it's a gamble, right? It's best to ask someone who knows they know the answer, in my opinion.
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#11 Richard Boddington

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:19 PM

Ok well this issue comes up a lot and I think it is time to answer this question once and for all from those that actually know the law vs those of us that simply have opinions.

It is Saturday so I can't talk to some one at ASCAP directly, but I will on Monday. In the mean time, read their site right here:

http://www.ascap.com...censingfaq.html

You need to have permission to play copyrighted music in your restaurant or use to use the music while some one is on hold on the phone!

"Yes, you will need permission to play records or tapes in your establishment. Permission for radio and television transmissions in your business is not needed if the performance is by means of public communication of TV or radio transmissions by eating, drinking, retail or certain other establishments of a certain size which use a limited number of speakers or TVs, and if the reception is not further transmitted"

So I'm expected to believe that synching the music to a demo reel is ok? Sorry, don't buy it.

You can't even do a public performance of sheet music without the permission of the copyright holder:

"Copyright owners enjoy a number of different rights including performance rights, print rights and recording rights. Rental or purchase of sheet music or the purchase of a record does not authorize its public performance."

I will call and e-mail them, I fully expect them to say that putting copyrighted music onto a demo reel without the permission of the owner is against the law. I will eat my words if they say other wise.

Also, to those video and film people here who want to, or do use, copyrighted music on their demo reels without the permission of the copyright holder. How do you feel with this scenario....a composer uses the video images you shot on a reel of his to show off his music synched with video, and he did not get your permission to use your video. Is that ok with you?

One more thing:

1. Copyright law, when violated, subjects the violator to trebble damages. That is, if you used Yellow Submarine, Michael Jackson could sue you for the $100,000 he would normally have charged you, plus $300,000 in damages. The good news is that if you are a poor student, they won't be able to collect. But they can get a "judgement" that is virtually perpetual, so that when you are one day a big money animator, up pops that judgement and out goes the cash, plus interest.

R,
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#12 Stephen Williams

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:35 PM

You aren't profiting from your demo reel.


Hi,

If you work for free you might have a point. Theft is Theft, very simple.

Stephen
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#13 David Calson

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 01:43 PM

Oops, this topic seems more heated and controversial than I thought
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#14 Hal Smith

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 02:28 PM

Oops, this topic seems more heated and controversial than I thought

Many people have problems with the concept of wanting something versus the requirement to acknowledge they don't own it.

For instance: They'll borrow something, fail to bring it back, and then get all bent out of shape when the owner accuses them of stealing it.

Personally I think they're sociopaths who don't have the balls to walk into a bank waving a gun. So they "borrow" instead.
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#15 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 03:38 PM

No one is going to file suit against you for using a copywritten soundtrack on your personal demo reel, and it is wrong to compare that with commercial use. However, such use may work against you in terms of how it's received by potential employers, many of whom tend to roll their eyes at reels cut to someone's favorite songs. You can purchase the rights to decent, usable, royalty-free music for low cost. The right choices will enhance your reel, and make a more professional impression.
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#16 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 04:47 PM

By your logic Ford Motor Company isn't profiting from a TV ad for a new car, so why should they pay for music licenses? A reel IS a commercial/professional use. You place your reel on a website to solicit work, not to let your buddies know how great a Cinematographer you are.


The music enhances your reel but the camera work is really what you are selling. I don't think using music to enhance your reel is theft. I don't think ASCAP really cares. They have bigger fish to fry. DP's are not the ones that they are after. Let's look at cover bands. Do you think there are bands getting sued playing in bars covering tunes? If they are I have never heard of them. Do any of you have a DVR? Don't you have to have the express written consent of major league baseball to record a game. Now if you were using major league baseball clips in your "How to play Baseball" video that you sell on e-bay I could see where you might have trouble. Nobody here is selling the reel itself. You aren't profiting from the reel. You are showing people what you are capable of doing and it isn't playing music. Let me ask this. How many of you actually have written consent of the video portion of your reel that you are using in your demo reel. Are you paying the actors royalties? Are you paying the bands in your videos royalties? Are you blacking out the products in the commercials on your reel or do you have the permission from the company that actually owns it? I see a lot of reels with name actors in them. Is that right? It's a non issue in my opinion. If you talk from somebody from ASCAP they will probably say "No, you can't use it." But he will probably tell you that you aren't the ones they are after. As far as producers looking down on you for it, I don't think they care either. I sat with a director and two producers one day looking at reels for a music video and 100% of the music was copyrighted and the only comments about the music were things like, "Why did that guy use this song?"

Edited by Tom Jensen, 02 May 2009 - 04:50 PM.

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#17 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 05:40 PM

Let's look at cover bands. Do you think there are bands getting sued playing in bars covering tunes? If they are I have never heard of them.

The band doesn't get sued, the bar owner does (and loses, too) unless they pay the annual licensing fees.
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#18 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 05:49 PM

The band doesn't get sued, the bar owner does (and loses, too) unless they pay the annual licensing fees.


http://www.techdirt....07/131704.shtml That's crazy. I wonder if someone from ACAP was vacationing in Vail. I can imagine that all bars don't pay this but it seems ridiculous. Still the band is making money. You aren't making money off the song on your reel. It would be hard to prove how much the music contributed to you getting a job. You got the job because of your work not the bands. I stand corrected.
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#19 Tom Jensen

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:01 PM

Here is another http://www.wired.com...scap-cracks-do/ It was obviously a bad example but a reel is entirely different. What are the chance of an ASCAP exec seeing your reel? And then do anything about it? Hey use the music at your own risk.
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#20 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 May 2009 - 06:16 PM

Oops, this topic seems more heated and controversial than I thought

Welcome to Cinematography.com! If you think this is bad, just try leaving a post about how the Red camera is superior to film, etc...
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