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My principal wants to live-stream concerts and plays at our school and make them available at a later date as well. Is this legal? Would we need publisher permission to do this? Are there other concerns I should make him aware of?
on September 3, 2014 2:01pm
It's better to start with public domain works to get the technology up and running (yet another reason to cut back today's absurdly long copyright periods). The following illustrates the need for more copyright reform:
Live streaming: for concert works, you don't need special permission, for theatrical works requiring a grand-rights license, you do. For concert works as an instituion, you should have an ASCAP/BMI/SESAC blanket license. To live stream it, you would add the live stream attendance to your total attendance when calculating your ASCAP and BMI bills. For grand rights licensing, you would need special permisison, but you would have to negotiate a flat rate based upon projected attendance, unless individuals pay to watch the live stream, in which case the industry standard is 6% of gros receipts. The person issuing the grand rights license would be the same person to get back to you, but copyright trolls who know they hold you in their power can take 3-4 months to return your phone calls.
Download: for concert works, you can often get a digital download license through the Harry Fox agency via their website. However, if you are offering a video stream, you have to get a second synchronization license and pay a separate fee, which you can't do through Harry Fox, but have to negotiate through each indivdiual publisher. I have often found Hal Leonard's arrangement permissions department to be effective at this, but they can take 3 months to get a license and usually only correspond via mail. Also, make sure to check your stagehand contract for your school, because many stagehands are considered to have "contributed" to the visual image and therefore demand remainders. For works you can't do through Harry Fox, you can pay the compulsory license fee as established by the Library of Congress, but it is often difficult to locate the copyright holder. If you can, all you need to do is send a check in the mail. For grand rights works, this is again negotiated with the publisher directly, although *technically* they are required to allow you to offer post-event digital downloads for a compulsory license, but most will assert this is illegal and hold out. If you go through a third-party service, they can handle copyright clearance for you. Most of these services require you to designate the work as a "cover," which comes out of pop music practice.
Please consider making a donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to advocate for reform of this stupid system which has absolutely nothing to do with the US Constitution's copyright clause's stated goal of "promoting the useful arts." All our current law does is inhibit them through legal threat and the creation of trust fund babies through inherited intellectual property.
on September 4, 2014 3:53am
You may have already covered this with your principal, but there is also the issue of privacy. Perhaps all of your students' parents already provided a signed permission form for allowing their children to appear online. If not, that certainly needs to happen.
If some parents are unwilling to provide that permission, we've worked around it by having the camera provide only faraway shots, so that no students' faces are distinguishable. Imperfect, but safe.
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