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Copyrights and Wrongs

I was on a call this morning for people involved in video production around the organization. One of the subjects that came up was the use of music as part of a video production.  In the midst of all the technical advice (test on PC speakers & headphones both to be sure of  sound quality in each case; don’t have anything with lyrics playing under someone talking) they brought up the issue of where to get music for a video piece and what could reasonably be used.

My employer for many reasons is very sensitive about copyright violations, but all organizations should be extremely careful about adding music to video productions and the permissions involved. It’s very common for personal video producers to grab any song they like and toss it into their production. In most cases it’s a fairly low-risk proposition for someone creating a slideshow of their child’s elementary school milestones. The copyright owners are at worst going to send along some kind of cease-and-desist letter, and most of the time even if it ends up on YouTube they won’t pursue it terribly far. This doesn’t change the copyright violation or moral questions involved, but from a consequences perspective the average home video creator probably won’t feel much.

For the enterprise content creator, however, the use of copyrighted material should be strictly avoided unless permission is formally granted. Certainly the morality is clear that one shouldn’t use another person’s creative work without the express right to do so. For most companies the legal issues are paramount and it’s really not worth anyone’s job to risk a legal complication arising simply because a commercial song is perfect for a video.

There are a number of fairly simple and affordable solutions for corporate content producers to add music to a piece. Here are several companies that provide pre-cleared audio tracks that can be used in productions:

Some sites offer package deals, some offer a per-song fee, but generally it’s for unlimited use of a song track. Some will require a credit line in the video, but in all cases it can really simplify the process of adding music to a piece without having to worry about violating copyright issues.

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