Why we don’t use “popular” music in our productions

Customers often request their videographer or editor to include popular music in their video. In the case of a wedding video, a customer would want the song they used for their first dance in the video. The source of audio could either be from the ambient audio captured in the video or even synchronizing a clean cut of the music over the wedding video.

We don’t do this and there’s a very good reason for it…

When you buy a song from iTunes, Amazon, or any other service, you’re buying the right to listen privately such as on your smartphone or MP3 player. Owning a copy of a song does not give you a blanket right to copy, redistribute, broadcast, or utilize the cut of music in any form without consent or a license from the copyright holder(s).

The copyright holder of a song usually includes the artist or band but often gives rights to a record or publishing company who’s experienced with managing the rights to music. Videographers that use copyrighted music illegally may have their videos deleted from video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook. Repeat offenders may have their accounts closed. Even worse, videographers may be served with a significant lawsuit. 

A well-known videographer, Joe Simon, was served with a demand of $150,000 for a single song used in a wedding video he produced. Although he was able to settle for a undisclosed five figure amount, such a hit could be catastrophic for any small business. Although the Simon lawsuit was the most notable, such lawsuits and demands are served every single day.

Unfortunately, there is a misconception that music captured “incidentally” while recording video is fair game. Simply stated, it is not. There is also a misconception that “fair use” may be a defense in such cases. Fair use is usually a defense to using copyrighted material for private, educational, and production related to journalism. Wedding videos are a commercial venture and would not fit under the “fair use” doctrine.

So, how much would it cost to license a popular cut of music?

Licensing a popular song in a wedding video usually is roughly within the lower five figures. The fees are outrageous but let’s face it, artists and publishing companies are in the business to make a living. If there licensing fees were normally $100, it would be much more difficult to bring a much larger lawsuit against someone who uses their material without permission or a license.

Videographers have been able to get away with using copyrighted music because such videos were usually delivered on a tape or DVD and are never usually shown beyond the living room. Now in the digital age, such files can be posted and shared everywhere on the internet without thought to the legal implications and without any control of the videographer.

Sharing a video with copyright music may cause you to get involved in a legal case as well. Although you may not have produced the video, broadcasting it may make you the initial recipient of letters from lawyers. And let’s face it, no one wants to have to deal with a lawyer that isn’t theirs. Don’t work with a videographer who doesn’t have your best interest in mind!

So that is why we have our policy not to include popular music in wedding videos (unless you’re willing to pay the licensing fee). This also includes any other media included in a video not produced by us such as video from a guest or some photos shot by your still photographer. We must always receive permission or pay a licensing fee for using copyrighted media.

This policy protects not only us but you as our valued customer!

Tampa Bay Video Service has access to thousands of high quality music that can be used in your video production as an alternative to copyrighted audio. The licensing fees for including such music is less than $100 and is often included in the package price. If you ever receive an inquiry on the reality of using a cut of music in your video, you can be assured we can provide documentation to squash any legal claims.

No matter who you hire to do your next video production, make sure they always have the proper permission or license for copyrighted music!