Legal advice needed for my band!
October 11, 2007 11:38 AM   Subscribe

A Mexican TV station wants legal approval to film a gig of my band. Please give me some advice!

I'll be visiting Mexico next year to play a jazz festival with my band. Now a Mexican cultural TV channel has asked for written approval to film our concert.

Although we want to give the approval for both the filming and broadcasting on their channel (publicity!), we want to make sure they will not sell the images and/or sounds in any way or form and we want to be sure that we don't get screwed.

Oddly enough the TV station does not have a standard contract / document for this, they simply asked us for a signed one-pager with a short sentence in which we say it's OK.

What should I put in this letter? Literal phrases or examples and a list of points that should be addressed are much appreciated!
posted by IZ to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
I don't know anything, I'm not a professional, and I don't have a band or a t.v. station.

Given this, I say being on tv, any tv, is way better than not being on tv. I'd make sure you have a website up though, so people can find out about you and buy your stuff online.
posted by ewkpates at 11:57 AM on October 11, 2007

You should probably consider the fact that, since this is taking place in another country (Mexico), the laws may be very different there.
posted by doomtop at 11:59 AM on October 11, 2007

Best answer: This is pretty common territory and it's weird that they don't have a template. Don't worry too much about it but here are some key points to address from the artist's perspective:

* Artist retains the copyright in the footage (yes, you can do this even if they filmed and produced it).

* Artist gets prior approval (you get to choose what they can broadcast and you can veto bad performances).

* Make sure you are explicitly specifying you are granting rights for "audio and video broadcast only" (you don't want it showing up on a DVD without your permission once you are rich and famous).

* Term (they can broadcast a certain amount of times within a certain time frame, such as "up to three broadcasts within one year of performance date").

* They must be registered with a PRS and will report the broadcasts.

* Also request a broadcast quality copy of the performance (further to the first point, you will want this so YOU can use it if you want to).

Hope that helps some. Per doomtop, laws may very, but these are the basic points to clarify.
posted by quarterframer at 12:19 PM on October 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

IANAL and you should at the very least have a half-hour consultation with a lawyer to make sure you're covered, but two thoughts come to mind:

1) Include the word "only" (e.g. rather than "we give permission for the recording to be used only for" you want "we give permission for the recording to be used only for" ).

2) If you're not expecting to get a large amount of your sales from the Mexican market then specifying "in Mexico" could also greatly limit your potential for loss.
posted by winston at 1:26 PM on October 11, 2007

(doh, I messed up the example in #1 -- remove the "only" from the first quotation)
posted by winston at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2007

Best answer: Not saying this is the case, but is it possible they've sent the same request to every band on the bill?
If that's the case, then you asking them to sign anything that limits their right to air the footage in the future might ensure that you don't get filmed/aired. As might asking them to sing anything that looks like a lawyer went anywhere near it.

Obviously you should aim to protect your image and your music, but you might also consider weighing that against the possibility they will become much less interested as soon as you put any sort of barrier in the way - even if that barrier is fully justified.

The decision about balancing your rights against your desire to get your music out there can be a tricky one.
posted by Ziggurat at 2:27 PM on October 11, 2007

Sounds to me like you might be dealing with a producer that is used to doing field pieces where say, a man is stopped on the street and asked to share his thoughts on some political issue, and then asked to sign a release form that essentially allows the station to use his or her name and likeness. Generally (and there are notable exceptions, I know) field producers don't have a budget to pay people to sign release forms, so if you choose not to sign it, they won't use the material they shot. A release form can be once sentence or a full page; it may be signed or simply posted; it's common practice, and it sounds like this is the road they think they should be taking.

The licensing of your music and its performance is a whole different bag, and almost every variety or cultural TV show I know of has somebody whose job it is to make sure they clear the rights for every bit of song or video used on the show. This is not generally something a producer will ask you to "sign a release form" for. Rather, this is the legal end of things. I wish I could provide you with specific language to use in the context of a contract, however, I can't. What I can recommend is that, out of the confusion, you do not sign an extremely vague, general waver that allows the station to do whatever they want with your video. Every time your song gets played within the context of scripted programming, let's say, you should be signing a master use license and a sync license, here in the United States. By implication, Ziggurat is right, leverage is everything, but at the end of the day, people do want to work together, but it's better not to sign anything if you don't understand it.

Although I haven't used their service, I've been recommend California Lawyers for the Arts. They provide free half-hour consultation, they tell you upfront what their hourly rate is after that, and almost every band I know has benefited through the building of a relationship with a lawyer.
posted by phaedon at 5:49 PM on October 11, 2007

Best answer: The caveat you want is that they can use your performance (and only your performance, no other recordings) for their show (name it) and may not on-sell the footage, or use it for any other purpose without your express written consent.

I'd avoid trying to claim copyright on their recording, demanding prior approval or a copy of raw footage. If it were me I would just pass you up, as those things are far too much trouble to make it worth my while (unless you were U2 or something).

If you want to restrict their ability to exploit your performance for other purposes, say that. Say you approve only for the purpose you've discussed. That should be sufficient. They are unlikely to have any problem with that, and it gives you some piece of mind, and something to quote if they ever do use the footage outside what you'd discussed.
posted by sycophant at 8:04 PM on October 11, 2007

Which TV station? I can think of two that fit the description, one of them (Canal 11) belongs to a public college, and the other one (Canal 22) belongs to the Department for Culture of the government. I doubt they would sell or license your work, but I think it's smart to present a contract forbidding this.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:36 PM on October 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys, great stuff!

@clearlydemon: it is Canal 22
posted by IZ at 7:45 AM on October 14, 2007

Best answer: Good, they have great shows. More information about Canal 22.

For what is worth, they have an ethic code in their website, and as they belong to a federal agency, they are required to post all their income information online. I'm sure they won't have any problems with a contract like the one sycophant mentioned.
posted by clearlydemon at 11:28 PM on October 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks!
posted by IZ at 4:32 AM on October 18, 2007

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