A day or so ago, I responded to an LM_Net posting on copyright, suggesting that we as library media specialists re-brand ourselves as "copyright counselors" rather than "copyright cops." And wouldn't you know it, I get a chance to model what this might look like. From yesterday's inbox:
... For the past few years I have been creating a video for the students. It is kind of a video yearbook with clips from the various sports as well as plays, band and choir performances, homecoming parade, etc. I set these clips to music. This is quite a project for me as I actually go to all of the activities and film them. I then edit and produce the movie myself. It is kind of my gift to the students. This video is shown 2 times, once at an all-school assembly and then at graduation. Acquiring permission to use music in this production has added a degree of difficulty for me. Most of the time the publishers are pretty easy to deal with, but often the record companies, especially the large ones, can be difficult. For example, EMI wanted to charge me $1000 to use one of their recordings. Other smaller labels have been very accommodating.
My husband thinks I am nuts for working so hard to get this permission. He even said a lawyer friend of his told him that I shouldn't be so concerned. Sometimes when I contact an artist or publisher, they will tell me not to worry about contacting the recording company as they are often too busy to even consider my little request. I know this to be the case as sometimes I simply never hear back either way. Some of the items in the myths about fair use that you posted lead me to believe that it might not be that big a deal. If I were to get a cease and desist letter, would it really matter since the two performances would be over? I have to say that when I started doing this, it was just the assembly so I didn't even bother to get permission. But then my principal added it to graduation, so that is a public performance. The principal also added one additional nuance to the whole thing: we give copies of the DVD to the seniors as gifts. This year I am putting a warning on the jewel case liner that says duplicating or posting of this video is unlawful. I don't want it to show up on YouTube. But it is over 15 minutes long which might be kind of long for YouTube anyway.
... here are my questions:
- Do I really need to be so anal about seeking permission for all the music I use?
- Is it permissible to ask for permission with the stipulation that if I don't hear back, I will assume that it is OK.
- What kind of trouble am I likely to encounter if I were caught without permission?
- What do you think about the ethics of the situation? I have told my husband that as the media specialist I have felt compelled to seek permission, but when some of the companies I have talked to tell me simply not to worry about it, I wonder how vital it is for my little production. (I should also say that we are a small school of about 500 students. Graduating classes are usually around 100.)
This was my response, trying to espouse my theories that we need to help empower our staff and students - that we should be their advocates, not publishers... but still be legal and ethical.
First - I am not a lawyer. I am not a lawyer. I am not a lawyer.
As “Ten Common Misunderstandings about Fair Use" from the Temple University Media Education Lab says, "Applying fair use reasoning is about reaching a level of comfort, not memorizing a specific set of rules.” My personal "level of comfort" would permit me to use music in the way you have described without writing for permission. Here's why:
- The use of the work is "transformative." You are using it for a purpose other than for which it was originally intended. You can describe your project as either "Personal reportage or diaries" or as a documentary.
- Your use is non-commercial. I assume you are not charging students for the DVDs or admission to graduation ceremonies.
- You are not effecting the potential market for the work. In fact, people might hear a song they like and buy a legitimate copy, in which the market impact would be positive.
One thing that I would consider doing would be to not use entire songs, but create a "medley" and only use music from the current year. This would strengthen the "documentary" aspect of the work as well as adding to the transformative nature of your use.
In Carol Simpson's database of reported cases of copyright lawsuits and cease and desist letters, I could not find an incident that is similar.
I myself would do what you are doing without any ethical concerns, but this needs to be a personal decision based on your own interpretation of fair use.
All the best,
Now having done this, I have to say that I don't really want to be the "copyright counselor" for the world. While it is lovely having one's opinion asked, I hope to move on to other subjects in this blog. Thanks!
Oh, another example of "hyper-compliance" to copyright restrictions and an interesting take on its ramifications on a school's public image on Scott McLeod's blog Dangerously Irrelevant. What makes this post doubly interesting is that Scott is an educational administration professor. I am wondering how his colleagues teaching school law would respond to his observations?
Don't forget that tonight we will be discussing copyright on ALA's Main Stage in Second Life, starting at 6PM SLT. SLURL for the event is <http://slurl.com/secondlife/ALA%20Island/127/106/29> For more information visit the AASL blog. Hope to see your avatars there!
Image of Freud from <www.brynmawr.edu>