Music Clearance

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Shaw, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Music Clearance cannot be blamed entirely on the TV Studios and so on who package and produce the DVDs of our favorite TV Shows. The reason why so many shows are being hit is simple. Before DVD, when the shows were aired, there was no beef by copyright holders.

    A few years back the whole nasty business with Napster and filesharing began. This led to a significant drop in CD sales. Whether sales are really that bad now is a matter of conjecture. The Music Industry is really behind all of this litigation. They, I believe, are trying to make up for lost revenue by acquiring large sums of cash for sales lost in the CD Department.

    Thus, a whole new "Music Industry" is born. They believe that this is the way not only to get more cash, but also to destroy the competing DVD market to their "sagging" CD sales.

    Once they have destroyed TV on DVD, they can then get back some of the money kids are spending (and adults too, I'm sure) on DVDs every week.

    This is such a huge issue and the solutions to the problem will not be easy to find. We need some kind of place on the internet that is impartial, consumer based, knowledgeable about copyright law. We need to take a stand against the copyright holders who feel that they do not need to show any compassion or to strike a reasonable deal for any particular piece of music being used on any given DVD.

    I have started a petition to clear "Stairway To Heaven" for use on SCTV. I believe that petitions may help in this area. If cash from the studios is not enough, perhaps Public Opinion would be. We need to start petitions for a lot of these shows and we must set a precedent and show that Music that was not cleared before can eventually be cleared due to public outrage.

    We need to exert some kind of pressure on the copyright holders. Filesharing and Downloading will not achieve this as it has already been going on for some time now. We need a new way to show our dissatisfaction. We need ideas and we need to start our own campaign to gain public favor. This can all get very political very fast. Perhaps someone can even enact some kind of legislation in order to see that TV Shows can continue to use copyrighted music, since they were never told to "cease and desist" in the first place.

    The big mistake the studios made was to agree to cut music. If all of the studios continued to use all of the music they had been using, it would have been far too expensive and costly for the Music Industry to stop them. Unfortunately, it is probably too late for that to happen now.

    Any suggestions and ideas are welcome. I have my petition here for SCTV:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/sctv109/petition.html


    Please take a moment and look at it. If we had enough peitions flinged at the Copyright Holders, could this make a difference?

    threerandot
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Hold ups due to music licensing are not the fault of the copyright holders, they are the fault of the show's producers, who failed to negotiate video distribution as part of what they licensed in the first place. It is completely unreasonable to expect rights holders to simply hand over rightsm especially when the demand for that music is now higher than it was originally - that isn't the way the business, any business, works.
     
  3. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    I wouldn't put too much effort into that STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN petition. It is pretty much a lost cause as LZ demand quite a bit for it.

    Even just a few years ago, the movie WAYNE'S WORLD had a scene where Wayne went into a music store, picked up a guitar and played part of it (a salesperson stops him, points to a sign that says "No Stairway to Heaven").

    This scene didn't even make it to video, just a few months later. They didn't allow them to keep the joke in the film. So, they had to just overdub a generic guitar riff.

    So, for a TV show, where the song is actually used, it gets more expensive.

    And this is nothing new. In the 80's, there were many films that never made it to video because of problems with music rights. It took years to clear the rights to such films as LAST PICTURE SHOW and HEAVY METAL.
     
  4. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    To reissue a work in its original form, one needs to have clearances for all of the original elements. Artificial monopoly markets have no competition, and few constraints on a vendor's ability to be an obstructionist. The main constraint on obstructionist behavior would be compulsory licensing, and that only applies to publishing copyrights, not to recording ones.

    If most vendors behave reasonably, and one is a real you-know-what, the vendor who is a you-know-what will get a disproportionate reward.

    Jeff's mistake is to assume that because the system rewards vendors that act like obstructionist jerks, that there is nothing wrong with being one, and that this is the way things are supposed to be.

    On the contrary, when you see vendors playing these games, it is a sign that something is badly broken.
     
  5. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Sorry Thomas, but there is no competition when you have a one-of-a-kind product, and unless you want us to live in a socialist society, those who have a uniqueness about their talent have every right to exploit it to the best of their ability. This isn't isolated to the music business, it applies in every industry. Should Donald Trump be compelled to serve burgers at McDonalds for $4/hour just because someone wants him to, when he can negotiate millions for his services elsewhere? Should your housing contractor be forced to build you an addition that wasn't part of the original contract? Should an employee be forced to work additional hours for no pay just because it will benefit the employer?

    Of course not, and neither should rights holders be forced to hand over their work just because some producer didn't have the foresight to negotiate a deal for all uses of the music used to enhance their product, a product they in turn expect to make money off of. If there wasn't a great value in the music selected in the first place, the rights holders wouldn't have a negotiating leg to stand on. The producers weren't coerced into coosing their soundtracks in the first place, they chose the music in order to make their product more valuable to the consumer, and for that they damn well better be prepared to pay.

    I suppose Thomas would encourage unions to give up striking for better pay or work conditions, just so they aren't seen as "obstructionist jerks." [​IMG]
     
  6. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    On another point in the original post, just about all music companies are tied in some way with a DVD company. Sony, WB, Disney, Universal, they all also have music divisions. So, this isn't the music companies trying to destroy the dvd companies as they are all making money off it.

    It is simply artists want to be paid for the use of their work. When many of these TV shows were aired there was no thought of even VHS, so this wasn't a part of the contracts. It has to be renegotiated. It is that simple, but can get a lot more complex over time as music libraries change hands, artists don't like the way the music was used etc.
     
  7. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    It's hard to keep from rolling with laughter at this one! It was Jefferson who explained why ideas (and by extension, expressions) "cannot, in nature, be the subject of property". His argument is very consistent with the basis of free market economics. It's the US Constitution that defines copyright as an optional, limited, artificial monopoly that is a means towards a public end.

    Are you now going to suggest that the Founders wanted us to live in a socialist society?
     
  8. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    No, they're not, but the originals are, otherwise there would be no difference between having Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven or a Back Street Boys song, they'd be interchangeable. If you want to use a particular song by a particular artist you have no choice but to negotiate a fair market value for using it, just as you would if you wanted a particular actor to be part of your production.
     
  9. Paul Miller

    Paul Miller Supporting Actor

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    Why should the laws be applied retroactively though to include to include past work when the people who created those TV shows at the time may not have included those songs if they knew they would have to pay rights fees on them? Especially since back when it aired, it was free advertising for the song.

    If they want to change the law, I have no problem with that, but the law should be exclusive to TV shows made after the law took effect.

    Would people tolerate being charged retroactively for items they bought in the past?

    Paul
     
  10. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    But Paul, it isn't retroactive, it's a new use. Even on an old show, whenever a song plays the rights holder gets compensation for it. The songs are owned by the rights holders, and can (and do) charge for every playing of it.

    I thought that the only problem with releasing some shows wasn't that it had a lot of songs, but rather that the rights holders were asking for more than the fair market value.

    Glenn
     
  11. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    I had hoped that people who loved TV shows on DVD would be willing to take a more active roll in letting the makers of these programs and the Copyright Holders of the music used, know how we feel. It does not make any sense to me for everyone to complain about a TV show they love having the music being removed yet not seem to want to do anything about it.

    I'm not expecting the Copyright Holders to give the music away for nothing, I'm only asking that they give these TV shows a FAIR PRICE for the pieces of music that they used in their show. When the Copyright Holders demand exorbatent fees or are just plain stubborn to let their music be used at any cost, then they will loose in the end. Why? Because if they won't allow the purchase, or want too much, then the music is not used and they don't make any money at all.

    The only thing we, as lowly consumers, can do to affect any kind of attention is to hit the Copyright Holders in their pocketbook by REFUSING to buy the product at all. So if, say, Quantum Leap does not have the origional songs, don't buy the DVD at all.

    Consider it the same as any other TV or Movie on DVD that has any other cuts or omissions, most people on the forums will bemoan the fact that TV Show "A" or Movie "B" is missing something and because of it they will not purchase said Movie or TV show...so why not for music cuts!?!

    If music cuts are made to a TV Show on DVD, then it must be indicated somewhere on the box that music cuts have been made. As well, a show like Ren and Stimpy on DVD says "Complete" whem those who have bought it have found out the shows were cut! At one time, it wasn't indicated on DVD boxes whether or not said movie was widescreen or full frame. Then they decided to finally indicate on the box whether or not it was full frame or widescreen. The same should apply to music cuts and/or edits so the consumer can make an informed choice. In the end, the makers only care about Profit, Profit, Profit!

    When anyone walks into a store and buys a DVD and there a cuts or changes of any kind without any notice on the box, then the consumer should get a refund if they so wish! No one should pay for anything other than what they expected to get. And we all know how hard it is to even get an exchange at Wal-Mart and this is just what the makers of the product love.

    threerandot

    "I'm writing my theories against the establishment!"
    (Doug McKenzie, "Strange Brew" soundtrack)
     
  12. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The law hasn't changed, nor have usage rights. What has changed is that TV producers now have the opportunity to make additional revenue off their shows by distributing them on home video. At issue is the fact that most contracts did not include this revenue channel in their original usage rights, and therefore the producers have not paid to use them for home video release, which requires new negotiations. It is unfair to think that producers can further exploit their show, yet expect the artists/rights holders of the music in them not to be compensated.
     
  13. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Jeff:

    Two points:

    1. I have never expected anyone who has copyrights NOT to be compensated for use of music in a TV Show.

    2. Are you attempting to say that producers of TV Shows are not making offers?

    threerandot
     
  14. Robert Cruz

    Robert Cruz Stunt Coordinator

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    Thing is...then, and even now, music costs a lot less to use on TV than to use on VHS/DVD (of course, rates have gone up over the years). Different rates fall under different categories. Using "Married...With Children" as an example, there would be no problem to use "Love and Marriage" by Frank Sinatra on syndication right now (seeing as it's been paid for), but since the company who distributes the rights wants too much for home video usage (and even more now compared to a year ago), it's not used on the DVD releases (starting with Season 3).

    For older shows, it wasn't an issue because TV on home video was practically non-existant. All the company making the show had to worry about was using the songs for TV usage (which, like I said, is nowhere near the cost of home video usage).
     
  15. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Not at all, but I am sure there are cases where the rights holders may be hard to find given all the asset trading that has occured over the years, which may prompt some producers/studios to opt for replacement music due more to their internal timetables than to negotiations gone bad.

    This is a very tricky issue for studios. If, one the one hand, they take both the time and money to secure rights for everything in a series (which in 24 episodes can add up to a LOT of clearances), the costs could make marketing the product difficult due to the cost. On the other hand, if people boycott due to missing music, the sales are hurt again, basically bolstering the rights holder's bargaining position.

    In some cases it may be a no win situation for fans - either the shows take forever to come out, and when they do the price is outrageous, or the shows are released faster and cheaper without the original music.

    Hopefully the industry can work something out that is equitable to all parties, and doesn't unnecessarily delay releases or inflate their street prices beyond marketability.
     
  16. DavidofLondon

    DavidofLondon Stunt Coordinator

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    On the surface the request here seems totally reasonable. But who determines what is meant by a "fair" price.

    I don't know all the economics but I guess that when you put a DVD out on the market your costs will be

    Actors Rights
    Music Rights
    Writers Rights
    Creators Rights
    Studio Rights
    Anybody else who owns rights to the show
    Cost of Preparing the DVD (inc. cleaning up original)
    Cost of designing DVD packaging
    Cost of production
    etc.

    Divide that into total sales and you get your profit.

    Basically there's loads of people who want a slice of the pie, including the production company who want a profit.

    But the poor music guy stands out solitary and unique in this. You see they're the only person who can be dropped. If the writer can't come to an agreement with the production company we'll never see the DVD.

    So we've not seen Batman (Adam West) yet, it's tied up in "rights hell". I don't know who owns what rights there and to be honest don't care I just want to see the show on DVD.

    But if the only holdout was music, they'd release the show with different music.

    Don't get me wrong I'd much prefer original music, I just don't know how in a free market economy we can determine what's a "fair" price for it.

    How much is your work worth?

    While production companies can drop music it will always be an option, its the only example of a rights issue they can drop. There are so many shows we haven't seen, may never see, because someone else won't release the rights for a price the studio will accept.

    Studios will never agree to reducing their profit margin, they'd rather not release the show at all. So if you want to see more original music, and I certainly DO want that myself. Then the solution is making sure the money's there to pay for it.

    Rather than refusing to buy shows without original music I'd suggest campaigning to send a message to studios that we'll pay extra to get original music. That way these rights will get resolved.

    Bear in mind if a studio wants to release TV series XXX but the writer demands massive amounts in rights revenue even if the music guy is being reasonable they may drop the music to save money to pay the writer. So just because music is dropped doesn't mean it was always the music artists being greedy.
     
  17. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    When you go to any of those legal downloading webistes, what is the going rate for a single song? One dollar! Shouldn't this also then be the going rate for music used in a TV Series? For every CD sold, the artists who created the music should get a $1 a disc. If they sell 10,000 units, the artist makes $10,000. One of the posts above asked "What is your work worth?" The value is determined by the public's willingness to pay for said product. If I go into a CD shop, and the price for a Paul Simon CD is $20, I may not want to pay that much.

    As for everyone involved in the process of making a TV Show and then a DVD, no one will win if someone in the mix thinks they deserve more of the profit than someone else. If we all agree to a smaller cut, public response will be that much greater and ergo, more units sold, more money made in the long run. Everyone wins. Certainly certain people may have done more of the work and have star appeal or what have you, but does this automatically entitle them to ruining it for everyone else? They didn't get to be the star of the TV Show, the writer, the pop star who's music was used without the help of many other inidividuals in the creative process. It is a collaborative effort and should be treated as such. Anyone who puts themselves ahead of others does not deserve any more praise than the guy behind the scenes.

    threerandot
     
  18. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Hmmm... Say four songs an episode... 22 episodes a year... $88 before you're paying, like, actors and writers and stuff.

    So... no.
     
  19. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    There is also the argument that even at a "fair price" (whatever that is), it can still push the costs beyond what is reasonable for a DVD release. This is especially true if you have multiple songs, from many different record labels. (i.e. WKRP In Cinncinati)



    Oh, we don't like it, but we also know that there isn't much that can be done. That's the tough thing with these older shows. Does the studio decide to pay the money, and risk pricing themselves out of what the public is willing to pay for a DVD release, or do they replace the music, sell it at a lower price point, and risk pissing off the fans of the show? Most will probably choose the later as the less risky move.

    Jason
     
  20. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Well most of us are realistic in knowing there is nothing we CAN do about it.

    This is between the TV producers and the studios.

    If you had a song in a TV show used prominently, and that TV show was going to be making more money from that show in a way that wasn't intended when you originally allowed it to be used, wouldn't you want to be paid? Of course you would so you can't blame them.

    And, if a song is going to cost too much so that it doesn't make the set profitable, would you pay the fee or change the music?

    No online petition is going to change any of this.
     

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