Using Chart Music In Wedding Films
What you need to know...
If you are wanting to use 'The Way You Look Tonight' by Tony Bennett or 'Barbie Girl' by Aqua in your online wedding highlight film, then be prepared to pay thousands for commercial licensing rights. This goes for any commercial music (ie anything you hear on the radio or in the charts).
Now we don't want to come across as beating down on other wedding videographers, if they want to take the risk of being sued by the copyright owner or even worse YOU being sued, then we just want you to make an informed decision.
When you buy a song on iTunes or even in physical form like a CD or vinyl, you are buying a personal licence to play the song in question for personal use only. Making wedding films is a commercial activity and as such isn't covered by the same personal licence. If you or the videographer uploads the video to YouTube or Facebook it will more than likely be flagged immediately. Some songs are covered by a YouTube licence but this only applies to you making a video for personal use and putting music to it. It doesn't cover someone selling you a service and them using someone else's work. It is illegal, it is immoral and highly unethical. An artist has a right to be paid for their work, don't steal it from them.
Let me tell you a little story...
In May 2011, Tony Romo, who was the Dallas Cowboy's quarterback at the time, hired a wedding filmmaker to film his wedding. Now, for a wedding filmmaker this is a dream come true. One of the most famous NFL celebrities has hired you which means you pretty much never need a marketing budget ever again. There was one small problem though, he decided to use Fix You by Coldplay as the soundtrack and hadn't purchased any licence to do so. The video went viral as you would expect and was unfortunately spotted by someone at Coldplay, which ended in a $150,000 court case. The case was settled out of court and part of the settlement terms meant they couldn't disclose the exact amount but told it was a five-figure sum. Now that's anywhere between $10000 and $99000!!! Both those numbers terrify me!
This is what could happen if you use a wedding videographer that is willing to illegally use music. Fortunately there are different solutions to this problem, so let me explain.
At Tall Tale Films, we only use properly licensed music, we actually spend a lot of money on finding the right song for a wedding film. We trawl through various music licensing websites looking for that perfect song, whether it is the lyrics that help convey the emotion or a song that dramatically builds for big moments in the film, like the first kiss or the newly married couple walking down the aisle. Because we use fully licensed music then you can upload your wedding highlight film to YouTube, Facebook etc etc without ever having to worry about a copyright claim against you.
Now for your feature length film, you can use any (yes ANY) song that you like and we will fully licence it for your feature wedding film that we supply on USB. How do we do that? I hear you ask! Well as your feature film will be anywhere between 45-90 minutes long, this is purely for personal use and you wouldn't be able to upload to any online sites. That means we can use PRS for Music which is a company who issue different licenses for different uses. Any song, from any artist but only for our USB film using LML (Limited Manufacturers Licence). Check them out here https://www.prsformusic.com/.
We get that you might want your first dance song or the music you walked down the aisle to, to be synced over the top of your highlight film to share with your friends and family but unfortunately this is not possible without breaking the law. However we have never had an issue with the music we have chosen for a wedding film, so please place your trust in us and we wont disappoint. If however you need to have that famous song for your online film, then we aren't the wedding filmmakers for you.
We hope you have found this blog post informative, we know that there are many filmmakers that use illegal music and that is fine, but ethically as artists, it doesn't sit well with us. Please leave your comments below, I'd love to hear your views or questions.
I am in no way a qualified lawyer and any information above should not be act upon without your own thorough research. This blog post only applies to UK copyright laws.