Punk Rock Video Rights

12 03 2009

Dear Rich: My friends and I have some old video footage we took from punk and new wave bands from the early 1990s. Some of these are local Bay Area artists and some are national artists. We never got release forms from the artists, but they knew they were being filmed and didn’t demand anything. Could we release these videos for profit? What about releasing them on YouTube? What about making a documentary? I’m so glad you asked. We assume that you have videotaped musical performances, in which case you could have problems with all of the uses you propose. It’s true that you (or whoever took the videos) owns the copyright to the video.┬áBut the artists (or the artists’ publishers) control the rights to reproduce the music. You need what’s referred to as a sync right — which is the right to match visuals to a musical performance. (Sample sync rights forms are included in the book Getting Permission). As for the non-musical footage that you shot,

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