demo reel music: copyright issues.

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View Poll Results: Would you ever use copyrighted music (such as from a CD) on a demo reel?
Yes I would. It's fine as long as you give credit. 92 89.32%
Never. It's not worth the risk. 11 10.68%
Voters: 103. You may not vote on this poll

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  02 February 2003
Question demo reel music: copyright issues.

is it illegal to use music you don't own the rights to on a demo reel? my first instinct tells that it is. if it's not yours then don't use it. period.

however, a silent reel is out of the question, and many student animators have few resources to find music from. i know a few musicians, but no one has the time or money to write and record a track properly. royalty free music costs money, and usually sounds like elevator music. i want the music i select for my reel to say something about my personality, and i consider that to be very important.

i have written to record companies in the past, asking for permission to use certain tracks they own the rights to. but none have responded at all. not even the smaller, independent labels. maybe i wasn't reaching the right people.

a scary question keeps popping into my head again and again: "can i get away with it?" it's a student reel; i have every intention of giving the artist and label full credit; the only people who will see are teachers and prospective employers; it won't provide me with any direct income; and i know for a fact that i wouldn't be the first animator to slap a track from a cd under my footage.

before i do anything. i want to hear from anyone who has anything to say on this issue. do you have a reel? did you make your own music or did a friend make it for you? did you buy royaltee free music? did you take music from a cd, and if so did you get into trouble? how do copyright laws apply to students? how do they apply to self-promotional material? any input on this subject is appreciated.
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  02 February 2003
I think it's just ok to use a commercially released soundtrack (imo) provided that you give full credit to the artist/company who published it at the end of your reel. It's not a major issue since you're just a student and you're not actually profiting from the music itself. Correct me if I'm wrong but even radio stations who play those music on air profit from them but they don't even pay royalties.

If those record companies are worried about a student using their music for a demo reel then they should have warned you by replying to your inquiry.

Sometimes being 'silent' means it's ok.

Just my opinion.
 
  02 February 2003
wrong about that. radiostations play royalties... i know cos that's what's keeping my cousin going while he cycles tibet and wherever else... the royalties for radio airplay of his songs.

also technically no you cannot use another artists work without the copyright owners permission. however that's not to say that a great deal of students don't use commercial tracks that i doubt they could afford to pay the royalty on for their showreels.

the main point of law here is the old lawyers one of, it's only illegal if you get caught, which leaves the moral perogative iwth you (and alos the common sense... don't go sending your showreel to sony if you've ripped off one of their artists... it's unlikely they'll check up, but it does do to show a little common sense.

bear in mind though that most potential employers watch the showreels with teh sound turned down. usually the art director with a senior designer or sometimes a partner in the firm, and they like to crit the videos as they watch them, in that situation sound is usually just an annoyance (unless it really ties in with some plot in your showreel).

anyhow good luck
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  02 February 2003
Id say they have more to worry about than some demo reels.
 
  02 February 2003
I have contacted record companies and they are usually quite cool about it, the smaller they are, the easier to reach and the cooler about responding. But for a demo reel I'm not suprised they don't respond there's no value in it for them, just as ther'd be no value in their pursuing the issue of your use of it.
Most schools have a sound and music library, but most students put something commercial that they like on their reel, and for sound and music for festival work get the rights or use the edu sound library.
For demo reels I have never heard of students getting any slack or busted for using copyrighted sound material, just jokes if its the usual Enya etc.

PS I said never but not because of the risk, because I use something I previously have rights to or use a local band or musician.

Last edited by ggg : 02 February 2003 at 07:36 AM.
 
  02 February 2003
I find that as long as the artist knows that you're not using their music to make any profit, then they're usually okay with it. As long as the music is ONLY for your demo reel, then there should be no real problem. However, if you're working on a piece that will be publicly screened (as in a film festival), then you should use original music only - the record companies (and artists) pretty much always draw the line there.

J
 
  02 February 2003
There are studios that turn on mute when looking through demos.

I think that as long as you are not making money out of commercial music, the owners of that musica shouldn't neccesarily be so concerned... so, I say you contact the record label, they don't reply anyway, who was it that said silence is consent? I think Shakespeare
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  02 February 2003
That is true - some studios watch reels with the sound off, so don't concentrate too much on the music -it's the content of your reel that is most important.

J
 
  02 February 2003
No one cares
Your an individual who is not using the music for profit. It is illegal but your too small for them to sue, and the returns from doing so would be nothing but bad PR for them(this is why the record companies are very leary about suing individuals over mp3's and file sharing because they are afraid of the public backlash).

It's kind of like going 57 in a 55 zone, it is illegal, but who cares.

Don't worry about it.

You only need rights to the music if your submitting to an animation/film festival.
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-deke
 
  02 February 2003
Well, neddless to say, it is fine to use commercial music in the video so long as you do not provide resale of the item and give the proper remarks in the creditation.

This falls under the same category as independant film and the festival circuit. You can use music there as well, so long as it is credited and not distributed beyond the festival circuit. Once you make a distribution deal, the optioner will have to track down the music used and pay the license fees.

plenty of information, just check up at the offical copyright website.
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~~ Ordinary people built the ark, specialists built the titanic.
 
  02 February 2003
Here is a good answer from the slamdance faq about using audio in shorts for film festivals:

Q: Do I need to have all my music rights cleared to show a film at Slamdance?

A: Technically speaking, all we're interested in is if you TELL us you have all the rights to show the film. Whether you actually do is somewhat more complicated. In practice, a lot of filmmakers - particularly for shorts - have not had all their music rights cleared by the time they play at the festival. What many filmmakers do is try to get "festival rights" for music, which are often free and easier to get. The reasoning is that if and when a film gets distribution, the distributor will either pay for the full music rights, or pay to remix the film with cheaper music. The downside of this strategy as we've seen with countless filmmakers, is that many distributors (especially the smaller ones and web-based ones) can't afford those extra music or remixing costs. So what happens is that those music issues will often single-handedly preclude a film from getting distribution. As more distribution outlets start to arrive for short films (whether they be web, cable, video, or foreign), we've seen a number of short filmmakers get caught in this trap in an even worse way (the rights to a single song could far outweigh any upside for a distributor). So please, for your own sake, if you're still working on your film, try to get your music rights squared away as early as you can - using original music from your uncle's Bar Mitvah band is usually the best bet. (For that matter, try to sort out any other rights issues that could haunt you later - from SAG to script rights.)
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-deke
 
  02 February 2003
I would think that you could also try to get pieces from artists that do not have a label at the moment. No, I don't mean take their work and laugh at them. But small artists trying to make it big in the industry often want exposure no matter what it is. If you put their music on a demo reel or into a short film, they are getting that exposure. Some may want money, but many will simply want you to add their name to the credits, probably with a gentle nudge for buying their CD.
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For the Alliance.
 
  02 February 2003
ggg: thanks for that link, though it's not the quality some people would like for their reels, it does give you something to work with.

As for the topic:
I think that they mainly bust places to scare the other people.
Try to use selfmade or free music. If you decide not to use that. just keep in mind that what you do is illegal (and you could get caught) and then use it anyway.
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Anillusion.nl
 
  02 February 2003
Quote: Originally posted by Azmodan Kijur
I would think that you could also try to get pieces from artists that do not have a label at the moment. No, I don't mean take their work and laugh at them. But small artists trying to make it big in the industry often want exposure no matter what it is. If you put their music on a demo reel or into a short film, they are getting that exposure. Some may want money, but many will simply want you to add their name to the credits, probably with a gentle nudge for buying their CD.


Another great point.

One other thing to add to that. Music that is within the public domain, mostly songs that are 75 years or more in age, are completely free if you get someone to remaster them (unless the composer wants some fee). Classical is entirely up for grabs pre-19th century, you just can not use a sony masterwerk and expect to distribute it.
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