Is Adding Some Music to Your Video Legal?

This past weekend I posted a video on my blog about Fred water. I guess you could call it an advertisement for Fred water although I didn’t really think of it as an advertisement.

It generated a bunch of comments including this one from Rick:

Microsoft had to pay the Stones $10 million for Start Me Up for the Windows95 launch. If you put your commercial on YouTube, does that mean you don’t have to pay the copyright holders?

What Rick was referring to was the use of the Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil in the video. I doubt the maker of that Fred video licensed the use of that song.

Which points out that Bob Lefsetz is right when he says:

Nobody thinks it’s copyright infringement to sync music with video.

The other day I saw a 12 minute video that one of my companies made for their offsite. The CEO asked a bunch of people close to the company (customers, industry analysts, investors) to videotape themselves answering a set of questions. They each sent in their video and the company stitched it together. It was a great video. Very motivating. It started out with Queen’s We Will Rock You. Did they license that music? I doubt it. It was for a movie that would be shown once to a small group of senior execs at a company offsite.

People do this all the time. My daugther syncs music to every iMovie she’s ever made. It’s a piece of cake to do in iMovie.

I think the deal that Warner did with YouTube to license this kind of activity for all of their artists is the right idea. Because people are going to do it and as Bob points out, you can’t sue everyone on the web.