Music on graduation video

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  • Our high school seniors produce a video of their school experience which is shown at the graduation ceremony. They want to use popular music in the background. Every class member will get a copy of the video. I believe this is a copyright violation but I need some more concrete "evidence" that it is, so they believe me. Can you help me out?
  • The problem is making the copies for each student - an unauthorized reproduction (generally an infringement). A fair use justification is not out of the question - especially if limited amounts of songs are used. However, music is more highly protected and when the songs are currently popular, one could argue that they are particularly valuable.

    This is one of those situations where "you make the call." If you are risk averse, you should get permission from the rights holders. Start with the music clearinghouses - ASCAP and BMI.

    On the other hand, you may argue fair use. You cannot guarantee that the music on the videos won't be further distributed but I doubt it. You could label each video with a copyright warning statement "This material is protected by copyright. Further reproduction and distribution may be an infringement of the copyright law."

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