Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor


Copyright infringement can be a costly exercise and for one young American wedding videographer it nearly cost him his business…

Ron Dawson of Dare Dreamer Magazine…

“One of the first questions a “new born” wedding videographer will undoubtedly ask is “I have this bride who wants to use [insert popular music artist of the day] for her wedding video. Can I use it if she gives it to me?” Or, “Can I use it if I buy it on iTunes?” Or some version thereof. Just for the record. The answer is unequivocally “NO!”

Well. Maybe I’m being a tad melodramatic. But, I am not embellishing when I tell you that on one Facebook group, there are hundreds and hundreds of posts about this topic.


Hi Joe. Was this super viral video the straw that broke the camel’s back?

I can’t discuss the details of the suit, but it is real. I did have a video that went viral, we had used a very popular song on it, someone saw it and brought it to the attention of the labels legal team and from there they came after us. Getting that letter in my inbox and as a fax was super scary. You always here “they’ll just send you a cease and desist letter and you take it down” and I always thought that would be true. But the letter that came through and they wanted a lot of money for damages, it the tune of $150,000 for one song. If that didn’t scare you straight I don’t know what would. I spent the next month or so going back in forth with the label to reach a settlement, it was a huge stress on my business and my life and I would never wish this on anyone else. I can’t say what we settle for but it looked like this $XX,XXX , which is a LOT of money for a small business.

What are the top 5 tips or things you’ve learned, that you can teach those wedding videographers out there when it comes to using legally licensed music?

1 – Read the fine print for the sites you are buying music from, each is very different and you want to make sure you are not violating their restrictions. Because if you do you are right back where you started, using music illegally.  Some have only one year licenses and others 5 year licenses. Always read the fine print.

2 – Educate your clients about the laws of music copyright.

3 – If you are using multiple music licensing sites make sure to check them all, they may have the same song and one could be cheaper than the other.

4 – Don’t just settle for the popular songs on the licensing sites, dive deeper into it and find the more obscure songs that will have the best impact on your audience.

5 – Make suggestions to the music licensing sites, they would love the help in finding music that you love to use and chances are they can get the songs for you! They can’t read your mind, help them get better music for all of us.

Read the full story at Dare


On the back of this I decided to phone PRS, PPL and MCPS to get a handle on this problem…

PRS told me that a wedding is a personal event and so is the music played on the day, the key information here is that no one pays to watch a wedding but if you use copyright music i.e. over the photographers section it only becomes a problem if it is posted online.

That sent out some very strange signals to me but remember there are two further companies involved in this copyright music mess.

A children’s dance show hits a different set of criteria because the parents pay to watch the show you will need to buy a licence from MCPS.


If you want to record music being played at a wedding you must have one of these licenses…A PPL licence can be purchased from the Institute of Videography (IOV)

IOV “This licence is issued on behalf of the Record Company and the Performers, and enables you to record their music in actuality (such as that being played by a DJ at a wedding reception) and to dub music on to the wedding video in post production.  The licences are in the form of holographic stickers which must be applied to all DVD copies of the video.”

For a five DVD wedding you are looking at £20.50

For a 50 DVD dance show you are looking at £62 per show !


IOV “This licence is issued on behalf of the Composers and Publishers, and enables you to record and dub their works (music score and lyrics). Each event or production will require a separate licence, and the cost is governed by the number of copies being made of the original – and the duration of music included.”

For a five DVD wedding you are looking at £15.32 up to 25m of music used per production.

For a 50 DVD dance show you are looking at £85.79 for a two hour show.

So there you have it a 2014 up to the minute look at keeping your video production company legal especially if you produce live events like weddings, dance and stage shows. My advice is to stick to non copyright music at all times unless you have a good reason or a client who is willing to pay big bucks for copyright music, especially on corporate videos and anything online.

The Institute of Videography give special pricing for PPL and MCPS licenses;n=918



Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

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