Music Rights: How To Avoid Being Sued "For The Longest Time."

Music rights (like all rights) are a dicey area these days, and we often get asked about them as we delve into other digital integrated talent-related rights questions. Take this cute video For The Longest Time (The Coral Triangle Version), a riff on Billy Joel’s song, “For The Longest Time,” by four female grad students that (literally) sings about the joys of science. It’s a great example of the type of video that now goes viral, (it’s already been picked up by BoingBoing) thanks to its authentic “real feel.” It’s a charming home-made effort whose sole goal appears to be glorifying the pursuit of science in order to save the world. God love ’em and may they be funded for the longest time.

So, who could have a problem with that?

Well… technically it’s copyright infringementand they could be sued “for the longest time.” (For this very reason, YouTube has integrated a warning about copyright infringement that is part of the upload sequence: http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright/ ) Yes, they changed the lyrics, thereby creating a derivative version, but that can often land you in more hot water than simply using the original track as is. Same thing with “borrowing” just a few bars versus the whole song.

Fortunately for them, Billy Joel has given it his blessing on his blog, This is generous of him, although not surprising, given his history of conservation ethics. It’s also a wise PR move: in reality, any legal action would likely be dismissed as their intentions were clearly educational and non-commercial /non-profit.

An ad campaign, on the other hand, would not.

So, if you’re thinking of using any part of a song—instrumental only, lyrics only, anything that could reasonably recall the original copyrighted version—please call us as soon as possible so that we can put you in touch with one of our trusted partners who can help you secure permission and negotiate a reasonable licensing fee. The sooner in your process that you do this, the cheaper and easier it will be for you. Chloé can operate as the supervising repository that connects and manages all the various rights making sure they are aligned for a smooth integrated campaign rollout.

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