So You Want To License Some Music For That YouTube Video...

from the you-want-to-do-what-now-with-the-whotube? dept

Ray Beckermann points us to an opinion piece by Shelly Palmer, who is President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Palmer's article is officially about why it's dumb for music publishers to join in the mad rush to sue Google/YouTube over not getting royalties for songs used in YouTube videos. However, he actually makes a point that goes well beyond the futility of suing, by showing how ridiculous the licensing process is today. Basically, there are numerous different rights that you need to secure, and each may require a different negotiation with a different party -- and almost no one makes it easy to figure out who you need to talk to about what. In other words, even if people did want to properly license the music playing in their background while making a home video of their toddler dancing, it's probably not even possible.

Filed Under: copyright, licensing
Companies: youtube


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  1. identicon
    Calix, 15 Aug 2007 @ 10:18am

    If you're singing karaoke in a bar, the creative artists behind the music you're warbling get fair compensation in several ways ...

    First, bars (along with every commercial space that uses music, be it live or prerecorded) pay ASCAP and BMI a recurring fee for the right to use their licensed music. The performing rights organizations have people who go around checking on this sort of thing. That pays the songwriter for his or her work.

    Second, the DJ (presumably) bought and paid for the CDs/DVDs he's using to provide the music for you to sing to. That money goes to pay the recording artists and producers and engineers and record labels and distributors who went to all the trouble to create that music for you to sing to.

    Third, the original recording artist who made the song a hit in the first place so you'd want to sing it - well, I think they're actually SOL! But then you're not using their work - you're using the work of the songwriters and recording musicians and producers of that particular cover version of the song.

    In some ways, the rights to use music are pretty simple and reasonable. For example, if I want my band to do a cover version of a song, all I have to do is pay a statutory royalty to the songwriter/publisher (I think it's something like 12 cents per song per unit sold, but I'd have to look it up and it's too much trouble to open another browser window and Google it, even though that would have been faster than typing this sentence ... ) ASCAP/BMI take care of all the rest re the songwriter.

    In other ways, getting permission to use music in a film for example, is a bit more tortureous, in part because so many people have a creative and financial interest in the work - the songwriter, the performing artist, the recording musicians, the producer, the label, the distributor, etc. It can get convoluted.

    But it comes back to the same basic question: why should you have any rights to use music I created however you want? If you want music on your YouTube video, either (a) pay me for mine, (b) make it yourself, or (c) hire a musician to make it for you. Don't see how that's all that complicated, folks!

    (Okay, in light of the original article, I can see how it gets complicated if you want to pay me for mine, but that just means that whoever comes up with a simpler payment model will get your business, not that the complication somehow gives you a moral right to steal my work!)

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