Towards sensible music licensing for film: Beyond Creative Commons

seven men pushing a train freight car
Working together we can achieve impressive results

What is the value of and best use of Creative Commons in terms of music for film and video? Steve Lawson (AKA @solobasssteve, warning he is one of the most logorrheic Twitter users I follow) tweeted a wish for easier and more explicit marking of Creative Commons licensed music on Bandcamp and Soundcloud particularly for use in video projects. This opened up an interesting vista of musing for me about the role and potential of Creative Commons (CC) and the culture of sharing within creative communities.

Problems with licensing music for film

Perhaps because I am more mired in old-world thinking than Steve, who is something of a social media age renaissance man, I initially saw problems with the premise of a directory of CC music for film/video use,

  • Would this cover both synchronisation and master use?
  • What territories would be covered?
  • What kinds of exhibition?
  • How long would the license last?

I worked, many moons ago, in the field of film sound and music and music licensing was often a fraught issue particularly with licensing existing music for films. There are lots of cumbersome procedures to get through in order to do it in the old-world way.

The synchronisation right allows the film maker to include the music in the film soundtrack, the master license allows them to make copies of the film including the music (like a mechanical license for a CD) and then there’s an exhibition right to screen the film. This mental oxbow is probably not relevant to what Steve was thinking of but the difference is important as it points to the liminal state creative arts licensing is currently in. Continue reading Towards sensible music licensing for film: Beyond Creative Commons