We are going to shoot the next home football game at our school. The video will be cablecast in real-time to the community. At certain times during the first or second half of the game the pep band plays music. (Perhaps during a time out or if a player is injured.) If we keep the camera pointed at the field can we let the tape continue to record and record this music legally?

That’s a very good question. Check with the cable company you are working with to see if they have a blanket license for music and examine it to make sure it covers the music you may end up recording. If they do, you are covered. If they do not have a blanket license that would extend to you, then you need to reconsider recording the music under any circumstances because if the band plays the entire song, you are probably guilty of copyright infringement. If, however, they only play a small portion of the song, you are probably ok. Make sure you keep the camera trained on the field and do not shoot the band. When you do that you are synchronizing the music with video of the music being performed and you are in very serious copyright violation at that point.

Ok, I understand. We can do that, if the band plays too long, we’ll cut into the audio with some announcements. What about the half-time show? Can we shoot that?

Yes, if you obtain permission from the music publisher. When the sheet music is sold to the band, the performance rights are granted at the same time. These performance rights do NOT include video rights. However, it is not difficult to obtain those rights. Contact the band director. Get the information on how to reach the music licensing company he purchased the music from and contact the company. Ask for the licensing department and explain that you want to videotape the half-time football show where their music is being played. They will be able to tell you if you can do so – then get it in writing from them before you shoot the show. Just have them FAX a letter of permission to you. On the other hand, the band director can tell you if the music is ASCAP or BMI. If your cable station has a blanket license with ASCAP or BMI, then you are covered.

What if we are covering a parade? The bands pass by us they don’t stop like in the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving. Therefore, we’re only going to get a portion of the music the band is playing. Do we have to get the rights for every piece of music the bands play in the parade?

This answer is a little grayer than other answers so far. If you are doing a news story about the parade which will be a short story in a larger newscast, then it is ok to use the music you capture while your reporter is doing a stand-up or interviewing by-standers or officials. On the other hand, if you are literally setting up to shoot the entire parade then this is a case where the recording industry has stated that a license must be obtained. However, as of January 2008, no lawsuit has ever been mounted by the recording industry regarding this type of use during a parade. Remember, when you see networks covering things like football games and parades, those networks pay for blanket rights to use a nearly unlimited amount of music. It is not possible for the broadcast journalism class at a school to be able to afford purchase blanket rights to music. Once again, check with your cable company to see if they have a blanket license which can cover your recording of the parade.


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