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My So Called Life - DVD Boxset Release Details


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#41 of 634 Glenn Overholt

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Posted May 08 2002 - 02:33 AM

Can someone explain how and why the music rights are such a mess to get for DVD's? I'm with Lance above, in that it would only get viewers to say, "Oh, I want that song!" - and just increase sales.

I've always wanted to turn the whole mess around. Like for ONJ with Grease, if her fans knew that she was the person responsible for holding up the DVD because she wanted more money, her fan club could/should put a little pressure on her to get it out in the open. This would go for F&G too.

Of course, if it is just the agent that is doing this, the fans could put them in hot water too.

Glenn

#42 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 02:58 AM

The music for DVDs issue is a problem because one rightsholder can kill a whole DVD project. They want too much for a song, so the studio either strips the song from the video (this has happened, and I bet you find a lot of it), or has a different artist re-record the same song (a sound-alike band, like The Countdown Players --this is VERY common) and stick it in where the old song was. I guess this is not so much an issue of the publishing, but more with the use of the recording. However, where publishing was difficult I've witnessed entire songs being stripped from concert DVDs.

#43 of 634 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 08 2002 - 04:23 AM

I wish people would quit blaming the artists over music rights. The problem with music usage is that show producers are cheap, so they only license a song only for a specific use. Then, they decide they can make money for themselves by rereleasing their film in a different format, but haven't got the music rights to do it. Then, the producers blame the artists because they (the producers) didn't secure all the release rights in the first place.

It is analogous to asking a painter to come and paint your front door for a price that is agreed upon. Since the job size is limited the price is lower. When the painter is asked to now paint the whole house, everyone is surprised that the painter asks for more money.

For shows produced before the advent of video, it is understandable that the music rights would be limited to theatrical or broadcast presentation only, but anything after that is a cost cutting measure designed to maximise the production budget, with negotiations for future formats done only when needed. Keep the cash for as long as possible, and if you never release to home video, you've saved money.

#44 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 05:18 AM

Bingo, Jeff.

BMG cleared the music to episodes 1-12, because they already had the VHS tapes out for those shows. You can see a textbook example here. Each tape was cleared as it was released. The final VHS tapes were not released prior to the demise of BMG Video, so they had not yet been done.

#45 of 634 Lance Nichols

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Posted May 08 2002 - 05:33 AM

Jeff, your analogy seems a little flawed. If you tell a painter to paint a doorway and agree on that, then that is the contract. If you want the rest of the house painted, that is another contract.

No, with music rights, the damn RIAA has contracts set up that state, basically, you can license a piece of music for this show, but god help you if you ever want to re-release the show. The contracts are worded in such a way that each release of a show is "something different". Total BS of course. MSCL is MSCL, or Grease is Grease, no matter that the FORMAT of distribution has changed. The film, tv show, whatever is still the same "product". I think this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Fine, if RIAA wants to find a way to milk more money from us, then set up the contracts so that you license the music rights for a set time frame, say 10-15 years. Even that is a bit of a rip off, IMHO.

Cheap producers have little to do with it. The belief that everything music-wise has to revolve around RIAA and their self imposed "taxes" is the heart of the problem. The artist has been paid (in theory) for the work, they have OK'ed it's use in a film or show. End of problem, or at least that's what is should be.

I am treading dangerously into ranting more about RIAA's abuse of the copy write system, and I don't want to poison this thread with that.

Anyway, let me just say, I hope they have the issue sorted out quickly.

"Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it."

--...

#46 of 634 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 08 2002 - 06:17 AM

"The film, tv show, whatever is still the same "product"."

It isn't that cut and dried. Rights are assigned for a specific format in the contract in order to reduce the cost to the producer. If someone wants blanket rights they can but them, but at a higher price, exactly the way my painter analogy works. You want the house painted, it costs more, just the door, less. Each separate release is an additional means of generating revenue for the producer, and in the case of music licensing, the rights to a specific format may belong to someone different than those who hold the rights for another. Broadcast rights fall under "performance" royalties, while media (tapes, DVDs etc) are "mechanical" reproduction rights. Most of these contracts are also time limited, and any new use subject to renegotiation.

I hardly see how this is a rip off - music plays an extremely important part in setting the mood and tone of a show, and the selection of the right music can make or break how a production is perceived. Would Grease have worked if they used a disco soundtrack? Heavy metal? New age? Of course not, so arguing that the music producers who enhance these shows are somehow ripping the film producer off by asking for payment is being pretty unfair, since the producer of the film is relying on the strength of the music to carry his money making venture.

The notion that the artist has been paid is erroneous - new uses are designed to generate revenue for the film producer, therefore is is more than fair that if they want to utlise the talent of the musician to enhance their show, the musician should be paid for that participation, just as any actor or other participant in the production would be. Just because the performance has been finished ahead of time shouldn't mean the artist doesn't get paid - in fact, the value of having finished product to work with is in the film producer's favor, since unlike the performances of actors and all the other variables that go into making a film/show, having a completed music track is a known entity, and something that can be relied upon, and decisions can be based on. In a production, any stage that isn't open to a questionable outcome has great value.

Anyway, I too hope the rights can be cleared in a timely fashion so this goes ahead without too much delay.

#47 of 634 Glenn Overholt

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Posted May 08 2002 - 07:17 AM

The whole house doesn't work for me either. If a group comes out with a song, and it gets put on a CD, they get royalties for every disk sold, even if it is only a nickel.

So now a studio wants to put the song in a movie. They fork over say 5 grand, and the studio runs off say 10,000 copies of the movie for nation-wide distribution.

A few years go by and the studio wants to put that movie on DVD, and I can live with them having to pay up again for the rights to put it on the DVD, but are they asking 5 grand, or 50 grand now?

And furthermore, lets say that an equal number of CD's and DVD are run off. In both cases, royalties would and should be paid for all of them, but once again, is the amount the same, or much more? That's what I'm having problems understanding. Help?

Glenn

#48 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 07:19 AM

Jeff is right again here. I worked for a company that used to have a huge rock radio show, with live performances. They can broadcast those tapes until the cows come home.

But, should they want to create a CD of the concerts (and they are highly sought after by fans), they need to re-clear everything. Broadcast rights don't mean mechanical rights.

I suppose you could clear everything in one fell swoop, but it rarely happens.

What is weird about soundtracks, though, is that in most cases you are not even dealing with a complete song, but rather a segment of a song. When a song is used in a TV show, such as Sopranos, they literally pay tens-to-hundreds of thousands of dollars to use it. The royalties on a DVD would be related to the number of copies being made and sold.

#49 of 634 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 08 2002 - 07:42 AM

Quote:
I can live with them having to pay up again for the rights to put it on the DVD, but are they asking 5 grand, or 50 grand now?

That is why these rights have to be renegotiated. Theoretically, the film producer could have negotiated for the rights to every means of exploitation they could think of when the original deal was worked out. If they chose not to (usually for the cost involved), then they will have to negotiate with the rights holders for any future use if and when that time comes.

In the case of something like Grease, it is well within the rights of the artists and publishers to negotiate for as much as they can get, just the same as any other business with a valuable property. If the film producers really need the material, they will come to a settlement, if they don't, they can replace the music with something else.

The cost of initial licensing and later licensing is like every other aspect of supply and demand. Pick any established actor and look at what their salary was for their first picture and what they make now. For example, let's say I could have signed Tom Cruise for a film for $5000 in 1979, now it would cost me $50 million. Same performance, different time. By the same token, a star who would have cost millions and isn't popular anymore could cost less now.

The same is true with music licensing, but the cost has to be negotiated for a given format release unless it is already covered by a prior agreement. If it isn't, the rights holder can ask whatever they feel they can get. Can you blame someone for trying to make the most of their unique and valuable assets?

Does this complicate and delay things? Of course, but the bottom line is the show producer is out to make a profit. He does so by utilising a collection of talents to appeal to his audience. If he wants to exploit a different market, then if he doesn't have the right to use materials or performances for it, then he has to negotiate the use or do without them.

#50 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 07:44 AM

CDs have set royalty rates (note: there are performance royalties and publishing royalties. To further complicate things, performer does not get paid for radio spins, only the writer does. More or less).

Digital downloads: no set recording rates, and some recent decisions regarding publishing which I know/care little about.

DVDs: Pretty much the Wild West. As I've said, I have seen songs omitted from DVDs because they couldn't get publishing cleared for a reasonable price. If you wonder why some live concert DVD's omit hit songs, this could be why.

#51 of 634 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 08 2002 - 09:08 AM

Quote:
CDs have set royalty rates (note: there are performance royalties and publishing royalties. To further complicate things, performer does not get paid for radio spins, only the writer does. More or less).


Just to clarify here...
For all *songwriting* royalties, there are two halves, a writer's share and a publisher's share which make up the whole. These apply to mechanical and performance royalties. There are other payments (advances and the royalties they are recoupable against) that artists recieve, which are based on a percent of the selling price. These are separate from:

Mechanical royalties, which apply to the medium (CD, cassette, LP, DVD), and are based on number of copies manufactured. There is a going rate, but this amount (like everything else) is negotiable. Applies to songwriters and publishers only.

Performing royalties, which apply to any and all types of performance: radio, TV, concert, incidental. These are limited to songwriters and publishers.

The calculations used for performance royalties is based on relative percentages collected from all sources and divided by some cryptic formula that scientists woul have a hard time explaining. There is no fixed rate, and the sources come from representative samples which may or may not have any bearing on reality.

The issues that complicate the mechanical fixation of a song to a medium are generally the rate per unit and the amount of advance on the royalty required by the licensor, plus any restrictions on territories that may be attached. Entertainment lawyers make more money off this process than the artists ever do. Posted Image

Hopefully the parties involved in this release can come to a quick agreement on the licensing issues, though it is a bit odd that BMG would consider licensing something they don't have the rights to yet, especially when they already have my money.

#52 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 10:01 AM

Not unusual at all. DVD meetings at my old company were not for the faint of heart.

BMG did not license MSCL from Buena Vista to sit on it, so they obviously planned to do something with it (before deciding to sit on it, hehe).

It's not a matter of if. It is more a matter of when and how much. Based on past experience, I am betting on reasonably soon and at a reasonable cost.

A little more detail for you. Here are the songs that are holding it up (pulled from MSCL.com) everything up to episode 12 is already cleared because there was VHS product:

14 The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated" (not performed by Ramones on show, performed by the fictional band, "Frozen Embryos"

14 Sesame Street "Sesame Street Theme" sung by Rayanne - not the original recording of the song.

15 Juliana Hatfield "Make It Home" sung by the so-called angel (Juliana Hatfield)

15 unkown "I Feel Like Going Home" sung by the Inner Voices church choir

17 Violent Femmes "Blister In the Sun" Angela's Freedom Dance

17 Sonic Youth "Genetic" Rayanne and Jordan at Louie's

18 Live "I Alone" In Patty and Graham's bedroom

18 Frente! "The Book Song" In Angela's Bedroom

My $25 says that the hardest one to clear is gonna be the Inner Voices church choir. Just a hunch. The choirs are always impossible to track down and they'll sue you into the ground Posted Image.

If anyone refuses their song, I say we strip it out and substitute in some good old kazoo quartet action.

#53 of 634 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 08 2002 - 10:13 AM

The only recordings that should cause a problem are those by the original artists. Once a song has been published, there is nothing to stop another artist from releasing it as long as they pay the proper mechanical and performance royalties (which don't apply here).

I woudn't be surprised if you are betting good money on that choir one being the stickler.

#54 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 10:23 AM

Dude, I am serious Posted Image. Don't be fooled by any group called "Gospel-something" or "Religious-affiliated other." It's their God-given right to sue you into the ground.

We were putting out a box set that Harry Belafonte recorded in the 1960s. Absolultely brilliant stuff by an incredibly talented and great person. The hardest stuff to clear were the songs with people you never heard of in them --precisely because you couldn't find them. But the fear was that if you just went ahead and used it, that someone's estate would come after you.

#55 of 634 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted May 08 2002 - 10:38 AM

I'm not arguing with you Jason, I agree with you. Posted Image

Now, can we get back to the packaging that will be used (outside the lunchbox, or rather inside...)? Has anything been decided in that regard?

#56 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 10:49 AM

I knew you were in agreement, I was just ranting. I will find out where things stand with the inner packaging. I know they were soliciting opinions on the other thread.

#57 of 634 Derek Miner

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Posted May 08 2002 - 11:21 AM

Quote:
If anyone refuses their song, I say we strip it out and substitute in some good old kazoo quartet action.
I know you're saying that in good humor, but what if it really does come down to having a song that won't go? These DVDs are to be created from finished program masters. If you strip out a song you can't license, someone has to go back and re-mix that portion of the show. Are the production elements minus the music readily available? It can't be too cheap to go into a suite even for just a couple minutes of program. I suppose in the long run, it could be cheaper than some of the licensing fees.

But here's to hoping that the licensing issues will quickly be resolved. It's a good precedent that the first 12 episodes had no trouble.
= Derek Miner =
Co-founder, Sunscreen Film Festival

#58 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 08 2002 - 11:27 AM

If someone is just being an pain and not selling you the rights to the music (some publishers are better than others) without forking over insane money, then you would do whatever you could to remove the offending song.

They cannot remove music and not remove dialog, etc, though. I am in favor of keeping everything 100% intact. That is the plan. At the same time, AU can't let someone take this project hostage.

NOTE: This has not happened and I don't see it happening

#59 of 634 Alex Morrow

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Posted May 10 2002 - 04:56 AM

Jason,

If I put in a preorder now, what would you say my chances are in getting on the leftover lunchbox list?

Alex
My DVD Collection

#60 of 634 JasonRosenfeld

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Posted May 10 2002 - 07:09 AM

I would assume a miniscule chance.





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