Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wants to Use Music For Pitch Deck

Dear Rich: I have a 40 second animation that I would like to add music to. Its only purpose is as a lead in to a pitch deck for a media startup. It would have no "commercial use" per se. Can I use this much of a song for this purpose without it being considered infringement? Are there simple steps to take to avoid any taint of infringement? (I realize that it is highly unlikely that the artist would ever even know about its use, but I will be very protective of the IP in my company and don't want any appearance of infringement myself). Many versions of the song are on youtube, posted by individuals unrelated to the artist. We wish you good luck with your pitchdeck -- a short slide shows that summarizes a startup's business model (AIRBNB's pitchdeck is shown above). But avoiding any "taint of infringement" will be hard if you plan on syncing copyrighted music to an animation.
Sync licenses. To fully avoid liability, you would need a sync and master use license, which we believe will be difficult and expensive for you to obtain. (We discuss master use and sync licenses in a previous entry.) You're correct; the odds favor you. It's unlikely the music publisher that owns rights to the song  or the record label that owns rights to the sound recording will learn of your use (unless you're pitching a music-related startup). Those odds diminish if your animation/pitchdeck goes viral.
A "poor man's workaround"? You could pay for a corporate presentation performance license with BMI or ASCAP (whoever owns the rights). Though it won't satisfy the sync license requirement, it demonstrates your good will and may limit liability.
BTW Dept. (1) We don't agree that the music has no commercial use per se. Using music to excite investors seems like a commercial use to us. (2) The fact that others are posting the song at YouTube has no effect on your situation -- YouTube has its own methods of dealing with infringers.

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