What’s with all these releases and legal jargon…?

http://fabcare.com/?p=13731 Posted July 23rd, 2009 by

So, some of you may wonder what’s with those tabs up at the top there. Or not. Either way, here’s a somewhat brief note on what they are and why they are important.

There are 3 releases up there: a video release, master use license and a synch license. Whenever video content is posted, used by any of us, or delivered to a client, we need to make sure that it is free and clear from any claims of third parties. Basically, we don’t want someone coming up once the video is launched saying: “Hey, I have rights to this content that aren’t cleared. You’re violating my copyright.” Or some version thereof.

So, if, as producers, you get this paperwork done in each instance, everyone should be happy.

The master use license and synch license cover any music that might be used in a video piece. If your piece contains someone’s music, you’ll need to issue these licenses for it. Each song will have two copyrights at issue – the sound recording copyright (this is the actual recording of the music that you’re using and is taken care of with the master use license) and the composition copyright (the copyright in the underlying song and covered by the synch license).

With a lot of indie artists, the artist will be the rights holder for both of these. But if the music has been released, the record label that puts it out may very well own the sound recording copyright. In any case, you need to get both licenses cleared.

So there might be a bit of investigative work on your part to figure out who owns what and who to issue the license to. Some really helpful website for this are:

And then just fill in the blanks for those licenses. Most of the time, if the video pieces get aired, the copyright owners are going to expect some sort of fee. This is something that will hopefully be built into any budget that a client provides for.

With respect to the video release, this is for anyone that appears in your piece. Every person has rights in and to their persona. And you can’t exploit these rights for commercial gain without their consent. There are some exceptions here and there, but to play it safe, get anyone that appears in your piece to sign one these releases.

I’ve probably lost most of you by now. Not the most interesting stuff, but important so we can get our creative work out there with relative ease.

By the way, my name is Jared and I’m the legal guy here. If anyone has questions come up at any point, please get in touch. I’m happy to help and listen to whatever.

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