Saturday, October 27, 2007

Reasonable use for a reasonable fee

So far all of my rants have been about religion. But a recent posting I made on Slashdot has prompted a couple of people to ask me to blog about it so that they could be kept informed about what I seem to have gotten into. My daughter made her first movie with iMovie 06. She wanted to the soundtrack an excerpt from one of her favorite songs, Dog Walk by Scott Henderson from his Mesa Records album Dog Party. I share my daughter's enthusiasm for the song. But she also wants her friends and relatives to see her movie. I suspected that adding a minute or so of the tune to the movie and distributing copies to a few friends and relatives, may well violate our license to use the song (which I purchased via iTunes some years ago). Most normal people – even if they suspected that there might be a copyright issue here – would ignore the issue, add on the music, and be done with it. The likelihood that representatives of the copyright holders, the RIAA would notice or bother about such an issue. But I am not a normal person. This, I realized was a tremendous opportunity to be obnoxious in an excruciatingly lawful way. I decided to write to the music publisher seeking permission to use the song in this way. On October 8, 2007 I sent this email to Mesa Records.
From: Subject: Request to use "Dog Walk" in home video Date: October 8, 2007 12:22:51 PM CDT To: My nine year old daughter wishes to add parts of Song: Dog Walk Artist: Scott Henderson from the album "Dog Party" (Mesa records 1994) in a short (two minute) home video of our dogs playing. It is one of my daughter's favorite songs. The video, probably as a Quick Time movie, will be distributed to maybe a dozen friends and family. We would like to know whether we can get permission to use about 1 minute of the song this way, and how you would like to be credited if permission is granted. Additionally, she may wish to upload the video to youtube. Please keep in mind that this is a first video made by a nine year old. It is far from professional. Would you grant permission for that as well? And if so, what additional conditions may apply. I can send you a copy of the current draft of the video if you wish. I am trying to teach my daughter to respect copyrights, and I hope that we can find a way to use the song in the home video in an reasonably convenient way while respecting your copyright. If you have some established procedure for individuals making these kinds of requests, please let me know. I couldn't find anything on your website. Thank you. -j Jeffrey P Goldberg 1909 Edgewater Dr Plano, TX 75075 972 XXX XXXX

Lessons to learn

I have received no response (October 27). My next step is to send the (slightly modified) request by snail mail. As I stated in my slashdot posting.
All the while I am keeping my daughter informed of progress on this, so that when she grows to the point where she will be making choices regarding intellectual property, she will develop an appropriate respect for how the music publishers handle these things.
The question remains whether Mesa records will respond in a way that will earn the appropriate respect that they would be happy with.

A few more notes

  1. In my postal letter, I will add (following a suggestion made in the slashdot discussion) that I am willing to pay a small fee for the permission I seek.
  2. Here's a copy of video (without the music)
  3. iMovie 08 is less capable than iMovie 06. This is one of my few disappointments from Apple.