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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Creative Commons

An interesting difference between doing your own videos for fun & entertainment and creating video for broadcast is that you are forced to become generic. Instead of being able to use anything you want and do anything you want with it, there are many things to be avoided in the production of a video. As a content producer, you have to think about what you might want to do with your work down the line during even the pre-production phase of creating your video.

Let's say you do a personal interview with someone, and you like how it came out. You can do whatever you want with it, personally, but then, if you want to offer your interview to another group, they might require releases (written documents stating that the subjects in the video gave you permission to use your video of them) from everyone in the video, or they won't accept it for their production. Even if you have releases for the subjects, you might have done it inside a restaurant, and THAT needs to be 'cleared'.

You might use your favorite song in a video, but if you want to include that video in a broadcast, you'll need to re-work it with music that's cleared for use under certain circumstances (see Creative Commons), like from podsafe music network or IODA. Strangely enough, even music that comes on the radio or that someone walks by could present an issue. These things have to be considered when you're doing a video that depends on the audio as well as the video. If someone's saying something important while this uncleared music passes through the scene, there might be no way around it, since re-tracking the person's dialogue means that you not only cut out the music, but all the other background sounds that make the video sound uniform.

Does this make sense? Yes. :D People work hard on their music or whatever and put their own energy and creativity into it, so they should definitely have rights to determine how their productions are used. There's an interesting Creative Commons license that allows you to use the work as long as you attribute credit to the creator of the original work somewhere in your video, you don't use it in a commercial work, and the work that you do that's derived from their work is also licensed under the same CC license. It's called CC BY-NC-SA (attribution, non-commercial, share alike). This is interesting because it creates a stream of 'cleared' work for people making similar videos to use.

There's also the internet archive, where there are lots of videos and songs labeled "no rights reserved" that you can use in any way you want, and a lot of Creative Commons videos as well.

What's "unfair" about this system (not to the creators of the work, but unfair to media creators looking for music or video to enhance their projects) is that money talks. :D If you work for a production company, or you do your own productions, you are subject to the same fees to license "real" music as the networks are. Let's say you wanted to do a video about something and a network wanted to do the same piece. Even if your footage is better, content-wise, and your written dialogue is better, and your editing is better and your shot selection is better..... your video will have YOU playing your guitar over your drum machine, sounding like folk music from the country :/ while the network blasts "Keep On Rockin' In The Free World" by Neil Young. Your piece IS better, but theirs SOUNDS better, so they have an emotional advantage in the effect their video has on the viewers.

Same thing if you're a documentary maker. MTV plays music all day and all night on several channels, internationally. If you watch one of their docs, they're FILLED... I mean *FILLED* with the latest music from the hottest artists at the time. MTV's in the country, you hear the latest country music. They're in the city, you hear the latest Hip-Hop. They're in India, you hear the best mood-inducing Indian music. This is because A) MTV has the money to purchase the rights to whatever songs they want, and B) everybody wants their songs to be ON MTV so they can get publicity = more fame and sales. Nobody wants to be in YOUR PODCAST that 30 people download on a weekly basis! :D So... YOUR video or film or what-have-you is going to sound like what's really going on... you got the music you could afford to use.

I think podsafe music network and IODA are providing a great service on both sides of this situation. They're allowing video producers to use music with high production values, as long as the producer complies with the stipulations of the licenses. If your budget is ZERO, or even less than zero... you can still get a fantastic background track for your non-commercial work. For the musicians, they benefit because their music's being heard by people that otherwise wouldn't have looked them up on the internet. They're being heard without having to be 'hot' enough to get into rotation on MTV. Also... you never know when a video that someone does might become REEEEEEALLY popular, and then the musicians get to ride the wave. :D

~Bill C.~
http://ReelSolid.TV


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