Monday, February 25, 2019

TEDx Talk Remix?

Dear Rich: I am giving a TEDx Talk about remixing education where I would like to use 10 seconds of three songs looped to show how a remix is designed using skills that should be taught to students. I have reached out to one record company who owns the rights to two of the songs while the third song is from 1983. Does the use of these song snippets fall under fair use or do I need to continue trying to find permission?
It's possible that your remix may qualify as fair use (discussed below). But even if it does, you may still have to ask for permission depending on what your TEDx Talk contract/license has to say about using copyrighted material. For example, the standard license for a TEDx event includes a requirement for indemnification for any damage caused by your talk, as well as intellectual property insurance (advertising injury). If the record company wants to challenge your interpretation of fair use, you might be denied insurance coverage (for failing to get permission), and you might have to pay your legal fees as well as legal fees for TEDx Talks' defense.
What about fair use? Keep in mind that fair use is a defense that you make in litigation. In other words, it's not enough to simply claim fair use, you have to prove it in court. With that in mind, we believe that reproducing ten seconds of music for educational purposes is likely to be permitted as fair use. Complicating the analysis is that there are two copyrights at issue: the song copyright and the sound recording copyright. And although we disagree with the decision, there is one case that indicates that a two-second use of sound recording copyright requires permission.
Solutions. Of course, there's always the possibility that (a) the copyright owner won't learn of your use, or (b) learns of your use but doesn't pursue it. If you're risk-averse, one solution is to use Creative Commons music or use music from a production music library (PML). PMLs are companies that acquire licensing rights from copyright owners, group compositions into libraries, and offer them on a nonexclusive basis. A typical PML package may contain 10 to 15 original compositions, including a full-length version of each composition as well as shorter “tag” or “cue” version. Because the PML owns both the music publishing and sound recording rights, obtaining permission to use PML recordings is simple. The downside is that PMLs do not include well-known pop music. If using recognizable music is important, you can also consider the assistance of a music clearance expert (search "music clearance").

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