Should Wedding Party In Viral YouTube Video Get A Cut Of Music Sale Profits?

from the questions,-questions... dept

Yesterday, we had the story of the incredibly popular viral wedding video, talking about how the music in that video, despite being over a year old and being sung by someone with massive reputation problems (Chris Brown, who assaulted his then girlfriend), was suddenly back in both the iTunes and Amazon top 5 downloads, almost entirely because of the video. Soon after the post went up, we saw that Google had just put up its own post highlighting it as a case study of a copyright holder monetizing an opportunity. Basically, Google allowed Sony Music to:

claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” — in the last week, searches for “Chris Brown Forever” on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site.

But… as some in our comments began to wonder, shouldn’t the folks in the video (or, perhaps the person who shot it) get some of that monetizing as well? After all, if we base our thinking on traditional RIAA-style thinking, the whole reason why there are suddenly so many new sales and renewed interest in Brown and this song is entirely due to this wedding party and whoever shot the video. Now, they might not want or care about the money, but just the fact that Google is hyping up the monetizing of the video… doesn’t something seem wrong that the actual copyright holder of the video in question isn’t getting any of that money? At the very least, shouldn’t there be some sort of “referral bonus” or some such?

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Companies: google, sony music, youtube

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Comments on “Should Wedding Party In Viral YouTube Video Get A Cut Of Music Sale Profits?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Why should the folks in the video get anything – this is all about the rights holders.
Perhaps you think that American capitalism should be replaced by a system based on charity – any body who makes money has to make voluntary contributions to those who may (or not) have toiled in a manner which facilitated the money making ?.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Perhaps you think that American capitalism should be replaced by a system based on charity – any body who makes money has to make voluntary contributions to those who may (or not) have toiled in a manner which facilitated the money making?”

I can’t even tell if you’re serious or not. Copyright is all about enforced charity. Hell, listening to the maximalists, it’s a charity for the rightsholders’ grandchildren.

thublihnk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

AC, you never cease to amaze me. Obviously they don’t deserve a referral bonus, but by the RIAA’s thinking, they do.
Then again, under the RIAA’s thinking, this video is obviously stealing profits from the real song, should be taken down, and the owners of the video should be slapped with a hefty lawsuit as well as the venue that this was performed at.

Geo (user link) says:

Re: Re:

The wedding video maker and they people in the video ARE RIGHTS HOLDERS.

The people have the rights to any commercial exploitation of their image under the law and the videographer who took the images has copyrights to those images.

If youtube/google is smart (and they are getting there as evidenced by their implementation of this monetize rather than remove copyrighted content system they set up) they will go further and implemente a revenue share system between those who make new uses of old copyrighted content like mashups and music uses in videos that draws new sales of it and the holders of the original copyrighted content.

Actually once youtube monetized that video then the usage changed from casual fun to commercial and every person in the video could make a claim to some of that unauthorized use (unless the videographer was smart enough to get model releases from all the dancers and even audience members who would not have presumed their face would appear in a public performance unless it was noted on the wedding invitation).

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:


YouTube’s users get YouTube’s service and server space and hosting and bandwidth at no cost to themselves.

Honestly, I think there’s no reason they should expect a cut in any profits…

Although, it would be nice to get money for that–and if money for your viral vid becomes popular everybody will go from an amateur film-maker to an amateur music/commercial video maker.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: *Sigh*

The video is obviously entertaining to some (12 million?) people.

So, who deserves money made off of this? Some would say that if you changed the song but kept the rest the same, it would still be as viral, but if you changed everything but the song, it would have never been noticed at all, so the couple/wedding party/etc should get money, for it was their creativity that brought all the hits, not the song.

And they have a point.

I, however, think that such thinking is just as foolish as if Sony had demanded the video be taken down.

More to the point, no one involved in this story *deserves* to get paid. This is **exactly** what Techdirt and like-minded folk have always said the Labels *should* do, and I applaud them. Also, the couple have a chance to make money off of this, they’ve already been on TV a few times, I’m sure they’d at least get hired to plan a wedding if they played their cards right. But they don’t deserve anything.

In the same way, Sony didn’t *deserve* to make more money, but by not over-reacting and demanding the video be taken down, they did make money. Maybe this will start the gears turning and this will be the first step into the Labels’ realization that not all unsanctioned use of their IP is bad for them.

Just my thoughts.

BullJustin (profile) says:

Re: *Sigh*

This is the best idea I read in these comments. All it takes is

  1. Let regular people know that your music, commercial, movie, or other IP is available for nondetrimental, noncommercial use
  2. Tell them to put it out there and see if it goes viral
  3. If sales of said IP increases due to viral marketing then whoever is responsible for the greatest increase in sales gets a bounty of some kind – phone call/visit from the artist, money, whatever
Anonymous Coward says:

The people in the video are just some people getting married, the person taking the video isn’t a pro. These people aren’t doing this for a corporation so why should they get anything?
In fact, with all the publicity and public appearances and exposure I’m sure direct and indirect monetary gain was had by all involved, perhaps they should contribute to monetizing the video. I’m sure there some corporate attorney types looking into damage this video has caused to corporate america.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The people in the video are just some people getting married, the person taking the video isn’t a pro.”

How do you know the guy taking the video isn’t a pro? And what does it take to be called a “pro”? Is there something in an attached or related article that I didn’t see that said he absolutely was not compensated for taking he video? And that he had never worked in professional photography before?

“These people aren’t doing this for a corporation so why should they get anything?”

….wow, I usually bitch about the corporatism of America, but normally it’s at least well hidden enough that some folks can legitimately hold the opinion that I’m just some conspiracy theorist (in Germany in the 30’s, we were called “alarmists”, as an interesting fyi), but even I’M shocked at the level of apparent acceptance of corporatism in that statement. So, if I’m reading that comment correctly, unless they are doing something for a corporation (which doesn’t = business, btw), it’s illegitimate? Wow….just….wow.

“In fact, with all the publicity and public appearances and exposure I’m sure direct and indirect monetary gain was had by all involved, perhaps they should contribute to monetizing the video.”

They did contribute to monetizing the video…to the label’s benefit. Did you read the story?

“I’m sure there some corporate attorney types looking into damage this video has caused to corporate america.”

Did I misread sarcasm for seriousasm? What damage? A corporation, in all it’s apparent holiness, decided to take advantage of the video.

Or were you just being glib and I missed it? Sometimes on this site, it’s hard to tell….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Simple fact is, ANYTHING we do (especially if it is profitable) can somehow be construed as copyright/trademark/patent infringement or in some other way illegal, the game is on. If a corporation or someone one who can buy enough lawyers or if we piss off someone in authority we are in the screwed. Period.

Just ask Gates … all three of them.

Welcome to the United States in 2009.

Another AC says:

Re: Re:

Hey AC, would you mind explaining why you have to be a “pro” to be a rights holder. Let’s see since you can’t, let me make it clear, you don’t. There is no requirement in copyright law that you be a professional in order to own the rights for something you create. Nor is there any requirement that you receive monetary compensation for the use of said creation if you choose not to receive it.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The people in the video are just some people getting married, the person taking the video isn’t a pro. These people aren’t doing this for a corporation so why should they get anything?”

If I am remembering correctly … video is automatically copyrighted if you made it legally.

Whats going to be funny is when companies really start monetizing the video’s and people start feeling that same sense of entitlement that corporations do …..

hank mitchell says:

cease and desist

if they decide to go into the wedding dance choreography business it would be a great promotional tool, but uploading it to youtube demonstrates they never expected a monetary return and therefore can’t really be in the business of demanding payment for somone elses good fortune by association. How about a wedding dance tee shirt plus signed piece of cake, and commemorative coin for $29.95 FTW

R. Miles (profile) says:

The bigger picture here is...

…the video makers don’t get a cut in exchange for not being sued (for infringement), charged (for public performance fees), and ridiculed (for being “thieves”).

Thus, not a single red cent will go to the copyright owners of the video.

Maybe the owners can submit a response to Floor 64 and hope to earn some cash back on another aspect of copyright ownership.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Shouldn't they be sued?

Actually I its ASCAP that does the public performance liscense.

From their site …..

“Public Performance or Performance Rights
A public performance is one that occurs “in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” A public performance also occurs when the performance is transmitted by means of any device or process (for example, via broadcast, telephone wire, or other means) to the public. In order to perform a copyrighted work publicly, the user must obtain performance rights from the copyright owner or his representative.”


Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t see how the song rights holders can have claim over something that’s documentary and not performance. Just like someone who makes a documentary about gas station robberies only has to pay royalties over the songs on the radio at said gas stations because they don’t have the funds to litigate, not because there’s any legal basis for it. Documentary use if a form of fair use. So in this case, I think the videographer who documented the wedding should have all rights legally and the music’s ‘owner’ can go screw themselves, as documentary use is a part of legally established fair use.

However, as I understand things legally, while the documentarian may be free under fair use, perhaps the wedding party may be liable for not obtaining a performance license?

Not that I agree with this state of affairs, but I can’t believe the people posting here claiming that the documentarian is ‘amateur and has no rights consequently.’

Thoughtmaker says:

Here's an idea

1. The people that made the video should take it down and host it on a site they make. Replace the vid with a link to the new site. Place revenue generating ads on the site

2. Issue copyright violation takedown letters for every time the video shows up reposted by someone else on YouTube and any other place you can find it.

3. Sue google when they don’t do enough to protect your revenue stream by preventing others from uploading the vid again to youtube.

4. Settle for some pittance like a million that google won’t think twice about throwing at you.

5. Regret not signing a prenup.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, I appreciate you furthering the discussion on this topic. In my original post I simply asked the question to see what others would bring to the discussion. Two responses were not friendly to the idea. In my opinion no one should profit here. In your original article you mention that the video “is almost certainly copyright infringement”. It seems hypocritical for the video to be considered infringement but at the same time Sony has links to buy right over top of the video. When those links are clicked and when the links to buy on the YouTube page are clicked then all parties should benefit fromthe profits, sharing of content and sharing of profits. Fair Use should be a two-way street. Obviously, sales will come in through other paths and its difficult to figure out how much (if any) of those sales can be attributedd to the video, but profits directly related to links on the video should be shared.

Fatduck (profile) says:

Sony is clearly profiting off the backs of the rights holder for this video. To those who would say “well the video is infringing Sony’s rights”: only the use of the song is infringing. If they had simply uploaded an audio clip of the song “Forever”, it would have been equally infringing and much less effective at generating interest in the song. It is the non-infringing portion of the video (the wedding dance) that drew 12 million-plus viewers, and the rights holder(s) should be compensated fairly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Might not be infringing

As long as they paid for the ASCAP charges- they paid and agreed to the use of the song through that payment.

The video was shot by them, the record industry got their initial payment; therefore all profits should go to the rights holders of the video. This would either be some family member who shot the video or a professional company that gets paid to shoot wedding videos and then sold the rights to the bride and groom. Either way the record industry deserves nothing. They made their profit and choose to profit on the ASCAP side of things. I think the video shooter has a very, very good case here….

Tristin (profile) says:

The song made the video

“But the video’s only popular because of the music they used. EVERYONE loves that song, you can tell by the iTunes sales numbers. Anyways, they’d look pretty silly dancing in silence. All the value is in Chris “I Beat up Girls” Brown’s fame and talent.”

Maybe you’ve been under a rock for the last little while, but Chris Brown had been in exile since the Rihanna incident. People hated him. This video brought him back. The video made him a star again.

It would be cool to test, though. They should shut down the video, post a link to their site, take out the Chris Brown song and add in another song at the same bpm, and see if people go to the site to watch it anyway. I know I would still be showing it to people if it had been any decent dance song.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The song made the video

I don’t know where you get your facts, but in the same timespan that this video’s been up, Chris Brown’s song has had MILLIONS of sales on iTunes. It’s a popular song, plain and simple, and the bridal party was just taking advantage of a hit.

And if they switched out Chris Brown’s song for another song, then they’d just be mooching off of THAT artist. The people in the videos are nobody; the music artists are FAMOUS. You tell me who’s taking advantage of who.

anonymous says:

I think the couple ahould have used the “Girltalk Business Model”. They should have used a remix of the original tune,and sold downloads of their version… Then go on tour selling out venues worldwide performing the dance live. Of course no profits are shared with Chris Brown. He should just be thankful for the free publicity which he will eventually profit from via t-shirt sales

Anonymous Coward says:

People heard the song in the video. They decided (or remembered that) they liked the song. They went and bought the song.

They are not buying the song so they can think about how much they enjoyed the video. They are buying the song to enjoy the song.

If they want to profit from the video they need to sell the video. Of course if they sell the video they will need to purchase the rights to use the song.

CrushU says:


They aren’t.

They are not entitled to anything, nor did they want to be. They just wanted to have fun and post a video on YouTube. After that, record company/everyone thought it would be cool to buy the song, so they just made it easier to do so. End of story, no one is ‘owed’ any money for the video, or for the increased song sales.

Geo (user link) says:

Has RIAA now participated in illegal commercial exploitation of the dancers rights?

The funny side effect of this is the RIAA music industry has apparently by making money off this video through commercial advertising links for which the video copyright owners were paid nothing.

Thus the music industry may have actually commercially exploited the videographers copyrighted content for advertising purposes without the videographers and dancer s permission which is exactly what they charged the pirate bay for doing right?

Igor says:

Enough with this copyright nonsense

This case goes to show how outdated the whole copyright model is. It made sense way-back when it was there to protect content creators from ilegal copy and theft. Later it was extended to protect content owners (who buy the rights from creators) essentially giving the them total ownership of it and giving them full and utter control of any use (see takedown order from Disney to the city who dared to put a statue of Winnie the Pooh). In today’s world where all content is in electronic format and technology makes it trivial to copy, mix and distribute content, the old model of “pay me for every use of MY content OR ELSE” is dead. Time to come up with a better one.

Mick says:

It's this video which made me my money idea

Would just like to say that this video gave me the idea to give my music away on torrent sites and to others, while also selling it on iTunes. I was also making songs for people. I am currently making an okay addition to my wage from YouTube profits. Because I make money on videos people make. I don’t sign contracts. Just do the music. Can’t be bothered with all the legalese. All I know is they upload the video. My music gets content match and my adverts go on their vids.

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