Using music in a documentary...

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by acearchie, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

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    Jan 15, 2006
    #1
    I made a documentary over the summer about two of my friends who cycled the length of the UK for charity.

    It started off as a personal project with a view to adding some bits to my showreel however, I have pondered the possibility of entering the documentary into a few small film festivals.

    I have used quite a few songs in the documentary. Not from the most popular bands but I was wondering whether anyone could give me an indication of the lengths I would have to go to to licence the music for screening? And any indication of what the costs would be?

    Apart from the music is there anything else that I would have to get licensed? The footage is all my own and recorded by me so I don't think it will be an issue.

    Thanks.
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #2
    If you really wanted to be thorough you'd have to go through and look for any brand names or logos that appear in your film and inquire about those as well.
     
  3. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

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    #3
    no way to tell you what the cost could be... the bands (and their representation) determine that.

    I don't know about the UK laws, but it probably would've been a good idea to have anyone on camera sign a release so that you can have permission to use their image.
     
  4. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    Australia
    #4
    If you're not disparaging them in any way, shape or form (say, wiping your butt with a towel with a logo on it and spitting on it etc), why do you need to do that?

    I can understand why Mythbusters does it ("ahhh, Mr Savage, we'd rather not have you make explosive devices out of our product if it's all the ame to you") but brand names and logos are made to be seen. They're part of the background.
     
  5. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    #5
    Because it's their brand and some companies (like say....Apple) care immensely about how their brand is portrayed.
     
  6. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #6
    But if you're not disparaging them, then what can they do? If you aren't misrepresenting them, you're not even presenting them - they're just there, I don't think there can be legal recourse.

    Even if you are using a device in a manner Apple wouldn't approve of, so what? Willitblend.com doesn't seem to have any problems.

    The Documentary Filmmakers Handbook says "a filmmaker can show any logo in a movie without clearing it as long as they show it accurately and it's being used the way it is intended to be used". I'd say that means a Nike logo on a t-shirt is a Nike logo on a t-shirt and if it's shot and used that way, it's both accurate and being used in the way it is intended to be used.
     
  7. acearchie, Mar 1, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011

    acearchie thread starter macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #7
    Fortunately they are close friends and it follows them quite closely so there aren't any sort of random interviews with people that I would never see again.

    Fortunately I think we are all wearing basic clothing (as we were living out of or backpacks for 2 weeks) so I don't think it can be linked to a brand. The other things like bikes might have to be checked...

    Thanks for the help so far!

    Slightly changing the topic but does anyone have any advice on what to actually do with my documentary? Should I submit it to a festival? Enter competitions? What options do I have as this is my first big film that I think is worth watching!
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    Los Angeles
    #8
    Playing devil's advocate, whether you are in the legal right or not it really comes down to do you have the time, money, and will to defend yourself in court proving that you don't need to blur out the logo on a t-shirt (for example)? Our legal department is very conservative even though we primarily deliver to the web. A guy was wearing a Ghostbusters shirt once and we had to blur it.

    If you ever want to sell or distribute your project you'll need E&O insurance (Errors and Omissions) and you won't be able to get that unless you have a paper trail showing that you have the legal right to use everything in your film.

    With regards to music, you need to talk to whomever owns the rights which may or may not be the band. Even things like music in the background, ring tones, etc., might have to be licensed.

    As for what to do with, submitting it to festivals can be a good first step.


    Lethal
     
  9. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    #9
    It doesn't matter if the use portrays the company positively or negatively.

    Here's an article that tries to tackle the subject:

    http://www.filmindependent.org/content/legal-ease-im-want-use-iphones-logos-and-movie-posters-my-filmwhat-clearances-do-i-need

    As you can tell from reading it, it's still somewhat ambivalent.

    It also has to do with the difference between material that is trademarked versus copyrighted.

    When it comes down to it, as Lethal pointed out, it's usually just better to be safe than sorry. A lot of festivals and contests even try to preempt any legal issues by requiring all submissions to omit copyrighted and trademarked material in order to qualify.
     
  10. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

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    #10
    I'm going to tell my boy to be an IP lawyer. As long as he never uses the family name or admits to being related to us. :( :mad: :) :rolleyes:
     
  11. legreve macrumors regular

    legreve

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    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Denmark
    #11
    Lethal is as spot on as possible... start making calls :) You could end up in a nasty pickle if you get caught using material with having the rights, just like a band or a person could get in trouble if they used a photo you took for their own marketing.
    I have a friend that actually won a lawsuit like that.. and I tell you, it's easy to win (for the one whose rights are violated)
     
  12. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #12
    I "published" a poem on a website once. Cost me $4000. Get clearance by contacting the bands or their publishers (trhe bands might not have publishing rights) or use royalty free music. Stacks of it about, but no Top 40:(

    Magna Tune is a good place to start for a very diverse selection.
     

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