Stealing Music for Your Video is Expensive
By William May
Published: 06/23/12 Topics: Comments: -
You've decided to do a nifty video of your vacation rental home. Today's video camera resolution is stunningly accurate and your place is beautiful. Video editing software has become increasingly easy to use and inexpensive too.
You take some great moving video, or may be you compile your still photos into a moving slide show. Maybe you can even put some nice titles or headlines on the photos explaining each room and what your wonderful home has to offer.
Now all you really need to set the tone for that video is a bit of music that compliments your beautiful video, that sets the tone, that conveys to potential guests how much your love your property and why it is so special.
So you take your favorite song, you know the that was popular when you were in highschool, download it from a CD or just copy the legal version you bought online. How about Paul McCartney's "Yesterday."
Now, that is better. The video is great and it helps you attract more bookings. Your family loves it. Your friends admire it. And guests say it makes them want to stay with you. Nice job. Well done. Life is great.
That is until, one day you get a letter in the mail from an attorney for the Recording Industry Association of America. (RIAA.com) who says that you are using copyrighted music for your business. He claims that renting out your property is a business because you accept money for it.
These things happen far more than most consumers know. There are a great many people employed to ferret out those who beg, borrow or steal copyrighted materials for their own gain.
The attorney orders you to "Cease and Desist." Embarassed by your naivete you immediately jerk the video off your website and send him an apologetic letter explaining that you "Just didn't know" that using the video infringed on anyone's copyright.
Expected to Know
Unfortunately, no on buys your explanation. If you operate a business; be it as a rent-by-owner or property management firm; you are expected to know the rules of business. One is that "Intellectual Property" (such as music, photos, graphics, videos & logotypes.) are owned by their creators and others are prohibited from profiting from use of their work, unless they get and pay for a license to use the product lovingly referred to as "IP.".
Plus, isn't it time to admit, that, if every 15 year kid who wants to download a song knows its illegal, then you too need to fess up you knew it was wrong, and just didn't care.
After receiving your letter, the attorney sends you another saying "Thanks for admitting you stole our IP." Here is an invoice for what you owe us. It can be hundreds thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Begrudgingly, you pay up in order to get out of this mess. And now you are home free. Well not exactly.
Depending on whose work you copied, you may also get sued by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broad Music Rights Incorporate (BMI) and the National Music Publishers Association, (NMPA.com). These organizations work together to enforce copyrights and get payment for illegal use of the music they control.
That means the costs for your use of illegal music could cost you plenty.
And what if you ignore that first letter demanding you "Cease and Desist?" Well be prepared to get served with a lawsuit for which you will have no valid defense. Even you lawyer won't give you any hope.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (passed in the year 2000 of course) provides clear relief if it can be proved you used the music. The artist or his representatives no longer have to prove and calculate damages. All he must do is prove you used it by downloading and saving a copy from your website which takes just a few minutes. You can be sure he did that before sending the first letter.
Maybe you have not been caught and, after reading this article, you remove that video from your website lickity split and hope they don't find it. Unfortunately most things posted on the website are retrievable virtually forever. (see the Way Back machine at www.Archive.org).
In any case, if you get caught you won't have a leg to stand on and, after you pay out big time, you might not have a vacation rental home either.
Royalty Free Music
There is a bit of good news in all of this - providing you haven't already broken the law - you can find many websites on which you can buy "Royality Free" Music for very inexpensive prices. You won't find your favorite tune, you won't get to have Paul McCartney sing "Yesterday" on your video. But a careful search will find a good tune that is royality free. And you won't get sued for using it.
When buying such music you must take care to do it property. Royality free does not necessarily mean you can use it for anything you want. Most licenses have some limitations which you must follow religiously.
Then take care to buy from a reputable website. Then save your invoice, proof of payment, their terms and conditions and a copy of the music all saved together so you can produce them if the copyright is ever challenged.