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sound recordings

Licenses for music used in movies & videos

Licenses with ASCAP, BMI & SESAC allow the performance of compositions on campus. These licenses do not apply to the creation of CDs or videos.

To add music to a movie or video, you need 2 licenses, a synchronization license from the publisher of the composition, AND a master use license from the owner of the sound recording (usually the record label).

The Harry Fox Agency issues synchronization licenses for compositions, but often it’s best to contact the publisher directly.
For the master use license, contact the record label directly, usually these licenses are handled by the “catalogue” or “special use” departments.

The publisher has the veto over the use of their composition. Thus, even if the label grants a master use license, the publisher must also grant a sync license to use the composition in the movie or video.

Making and distribution of a video which contains unlicensed copyrighted material is NOT protected by the TEACH Act.

Precision of Language

Our language must be very clear when talking about “playing music”. We must
distinguish between the use of a composition & the use of a sound recording.
Songwriters & publishers earn money from compositions. Their copyright claim is filed on Form PA, and a standard c in a circle © copyright symbol is used. This is called the PUBLISHING side of the music business.
Record labels & recording artists earn money from sound recordings. Their claim is filed in Washington on Form SR and is indicated by a P in a circle symbol (P). This is the LABEL side of the industry.
The next time you look at a CD, you’ll find a list of songs, their titles, composers & publishing companies. Then on the back cover, you’ll see the (P) symbol next to the name of a record label.
Sony Records may own the copyright to the sound recording, but the publishers own the compositions. - - MJD