There exist plenty of pitfalls for AV production companies when dealing with copyright protected music but some are more common than others. Here are a few of them.
It’s your responsibility
Finding and downloading music is easier than ever. This also means that it’s easier than ever to forget that every song and every instrumental track is copyright protected. You always have to make sure that all rights have been taken care of before using a track.
The devil is in the details
Always remember what kind of contract you’ve signed. If you’ve cleared the song for the U.S., you shouldn’t start broadcasting the commercial in Germany afterwards. If you’ve only paid to clear the music for web broadcasting, you shouldn’t start putting it on TV or produce a radio version featuring the song. You do not own the music even though you’ve cleared the rights for it.
Running out of time
Always remember the time limit. Music for commercials is usually only cleared for one year and you’ll have to clear the rights again when the year is up. Non-commercial projects such as corporate presentations, TV shows and films are usually cleared in perpetuity.
New version, new clearing
A lot of our clients clear the music for different versions of the same commercial. If you change the commercial, and you haven’t cleared the music for more versions beforehand, you’ll have to clear the music again. As a production company, you never have carte blanche to use the music as much as you want simply because you’ve cleared it once. Again, the devil is always in the detail.
Diegetic music is not public domain
If you’re recording a live concert, you might think that you can keep the audio for your production. This is only the case if you’ve cleared the song. If the band/orchestra performs a public domain composition (such as Mozart, Beethoven or Bach) you’ll only have to clear it with the orchestra as they own the master right (the recording). You’ll also have to clear the publishing right if the composition isn’t public domain.
To sum up: always make sure you know what your contract states before you use music and be very specific when you license it. If you’re in doubt, ask the music publisher. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +45 32 96 66 73 if you want to know more about copyright, clearing and/or licensing.