Your Online Video May Cost You Thousands
The video is wonderful. It illuminates several moments you'd missed in the excitement of the day. Your friend has even included your song, Endless Love, as the background music for the video.
After the honeymoon, as you unpack the doorbell rings. Opening the door you find a man asking for your signature for a package. You think, "Which aunt or uncle must be sending money"? When the deliveryman smiles, hands you the package and says, "You've been served." you are surprise and horrified.
Confused, you tear the package open to find a lawsuit for $10,000 for copyright infringement. You wonder to yourself--could this be right? How did I infringe any copyrights? Out of curiosity you scan the pages of the lawsuit for a logical explanation. Then you find it: "the illegal use of Endless Love by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross in your wedding video posted on YouTube".
With all the attention YouTube has gotten from the Viacom lawsuit for $1 billion for unauthorized distribution and infringe of copyright laws, everyone has overlooked a possible next wave of lawsuits to come. Those are for the vast majority of online videos that are made by small home videographers who have included music in their videos that has not been licensed for use.
Typically music publishers and record labels have turned a blind eye to home and wedding videographers who produce their own work. Shared with an audience of usually less then 10 close personal friends and family, these home videographers have all but been ignored for years. This was before sites like You Tube, Google Video, ChickShack, AsSeenInVT and a handful of others began creating an outlet for anyone with a video camera. Now home videographers need to be warned. You may soon find yourself involved in lawsuits for illegal use of a copyrighted protected musical recording, the fines for which could be in excess of $15,000 per song.
Remember how fiercely the recording industry went after everyone from children to old ladies who downloaded songs from sites like Napster? It may be only a matter of time until they start going after videographers in the same manner.
Most home videographers are unaware of the limitations on using copyright protected music. The vast number of home Videographers wrongly assume that they can synchronize or place any music they want in their video production. In the past, a small home and wedding Videographer would usually get away with this. The problem is these wannabee Quentin Tarantino's have now begun distributing their productions to more then just a few friends and family. A video loaded online has the potential market of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of viewers, and if you've created something popular using YouTube, you may be the next victim.
Local TV stations in America can pay tens of thousands of dollars for licensing music for their stations. This price can go into the millions if they desire to use popular artists songs.
For Videographers who have uploaded productions onto sites like YouTube and are now nervous, let me educate you a bit on how licensing works.
Simply put, copyright laws state that any music under copyright protection may not be used for any kind of video production, media presentation, websites, etc--that is, without approval from the copyright owner. Several types of licenses are usually required. These may include some or all of the following: Synchronization, Performance and Master licenses.
Now before you stress over the fact that no one will see your masterpiece or that big the bad RIAA is coming to get you -- there is a solution. First, you must remove the copyrighted music you have in your videos. Then you have the option to either write your own music for your video (most of us are not musically creative enough to go this route) - or license music from an Online Production Music Library.
Online Production Music Libraries typically lease music from their catalogs on either an individual per use basis, called a drop, or blanket licenses that will cover an entire project. The advantages of online production music libraries are the scope, depth and breadth of the catalogs. Pricing ranges greatly, depending on many variables.
Most production libraries do not create music specifically for amateur videographers, but Recently, an L.A. based production music library called TunEdge Music announced it would give special licensing for web distribution. TunEdge Music is providing access to their online catalog and for a reasonable fee their music can be licensed specifically for online creations.
This article was coauthored by Mike Bradbury and Joel Thatcher. Joel is a senior employee of Tunedge Production Music. Tunedge provides production music solutions for professionals and amateurs alike through an online interface. Mike is an analyst for Objectware, Inc, an Atlanta web design company.