Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Law - Copyright

This week we had Peter Hodges who was previously Head of Contacts and Copyright of the BBC, who started the lecture by giving us an animated black and white picture of the way copyright works through publishers, agents, lawyers, companies etc.

Copyright is a property right, and infact anything you do is a property right, and copyright protection starts as soon as a piece is published. Sound, films, television, graphical arrangements, performances, design rights all come under the copyright law because they are pieces which have been pulished by a creator and owner.

When referring to songs, if a song, if some of the song is wanted to be used within a news report or a feature, then the performance must be cleared by the performer, aka the person who performed the cover of a famous song, and the song must also be cleared by the company or the composer. So the person who created the song needs to clear its copyright, as does the act who performed the piece of music.
However, music at a football match, or work which includes artistic work is all fine because it is classed as 'incidental inclusion', so that's why at many football matches, you hear music on a tannoy, that is fine because it is occurring without realisation or any way of rectifying it. There is a protection of music or sounds of copyright. The length of the protection is 50 years, after the composer's death or after its releae, whichever is later. So for example, Michael Jackson's song with Akon, "Hold my Hand" would be 50 years later from its release because the song was released AFTER Jackson's death, in a posthumous album.

The same would apply for songs and sounds within an opera, but there are many more copyright issues than just the music. Peter showed us an opera in the lecture and asked us to think about what could potentially prove to be a stumbling block under the copyright law within the clip of an opera he showed us. Well, there is clearance for designers, for such things as clothes, costumes, wigs, make-up, and also clearance for the set and studio, because despite being pre-agreed, copyright is still fruitful in performances because it is a law which affects everything, from music to film, from pictures to performances. It covers the person or object as soon as it is a published piece. The way about thinking whether include a piece which is protected is whether to include it (whether clearance has been verified, payment made, or if it is relevant to the piece) and the system of how to clear it (copyright).

If a film or a news package is shown to a friend but is not published then it is not protected by copyright law, but as soon as the piece is published to the internet or television then it becomes protected. A DVD is protected for 50 years, and a book is protected for 70 years under the law.

There is also copyright and privacy over photographs, and you need written consent to use to photographic content by an artist or a performer, etc.

Within your pieces, or works, it is necessary to give acknowledgement and credit to the owners of the original music, sound, footage, image, etc, and this can be done for example by saying "Courtesy of..........."
When using this, this is usually known as fair dealing.
Fair dealing is when you are allowed to use small amounts of footage for a film, games, music video, news package for free, but the minimum you must do is credit the company or composer within the piece when using that copyrighted item. Another thing to remember is that the piece you use must only be a few seconds long at most in your item, like a "snippet" or a "teaser" in your item.

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