Once Again, Music Licensing Harms The DVD Release Of A Classic TV Show: The State Goes Generic

from the sad-days dept

Fans of The State have a cultish connection to the fantastic sketch comedy series that was on MTV in the 90s. Recently, DVDs of the show were released, and reader Milodon points out that like WKRP in Cincinnati, The Wonder Years and a variety of other classic TV shows, The State was unable to use the original music it had used when the shows aired:
Back in the free-wheeling 1990s, we had access to a huge library of popular songs to use as a soundtrack for the show. Today, licensing this music for the DVD would have cost us millions of dollars, and most of it was unavailable to us at any price. However, we have worked very closely with original series composer (and consummate rock star) Craig Wedren to carefully replace certain tracks, while maintaining the spirit of the original sketches as much as possible. The only moment in the whole series that we could not include on the DVD is a 15-second "link" where characters are singing a Pearl Jam song which we could not get the rights to.
Of course, we've seen how closely "the spirit" of the original music has been drained out of those other shows. Part of the reason these shows are such classics was their use of timely and evocative music. It still boggles my mind that it should even require any additional licensing. The music was licensed for the show. The DVDs are simply the same show. The music was already licensed. Why should it need another license? And, even if you grant the idea that it should get the license, why would anyone not let that happen? Having the music in these shows is never going to harm the market for that music or those musicians. It can only serve to draw more attention to that music, especially for people nostalgic for the time when the show aired.

Also, the page about the DVD notes one other bizarre change:
A few brand names and images had to be blurred or replaced for legal reasons.
I'm still trying to figure out what these "legal reasons" are. Last month we wrote about a lawyer whose job it is to make sure no brands appear unblurred in movies, but I'm struggling to understand the legal rationale behind this. It's not a trademark violation to use a brand in a movie or a TV show. There's not going to be any "confusion" from showing a brand or dilution of the brand because a long-off-the-air TV show isn't competing with those brands. This is yet another sign of the ridiculous levels to which intellectual property law has taken culture these days.
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Filed Under: copyright, dvds, licensing, the state

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 10 Sep 2009 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Licensing

    It's pretty simple - they licensed the songs for broadcast, not for the show. Since DVDs aren't broadcast, they need to license them again.

    I understand the reason it happens. I don't understand why it makes sense. Because it doesn't make any sense.

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