obtaining synch rights Feb 14 update

This week I still worked on finishing the synch request form sent by the music publisher and contacting the recording company. I have so far gained some progress of going through the synch rights acqusition, but the recording company, Warner Music Group, still did not get back to me. I sent them two messages one was three weeks ago and one was two weeks ago, but did not hear back from them. I also contacted the Julie Heath from the Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Clip & Still Licensing Department, which I thought might be likely to be the recording company, or have mutual contacts with the recording company. On Feb 10 I heard back from them suggesting me to contact Warner Music Group. But the good part was Julie provided me a name for possible contact person: Bob Fukuyama (Bob.Fukuyama@wmg.com) from the Strategic Marketing. So I will try to find ways to get in touch with this person.

I am glad that this week we had some progress on filling out the synch request form. Since we decided not to acquire the synch rights for theatrical release and DVDs release until the film gets picked up by a distributor or professional agency, we just need to acquire the synch rights for festivals attainment at this stage, the process became more straightforward and crystal.

But still, there are some confusing areas I need to find out in this week:

1. if we just need the rights to attain festivals, does the synch rights request form still apply, or are there supplemental forms we need to fill out for the specific purpose

2. the “term” (how long we want to use the music in our film) and the “option” (the extension of the use of the music in our film)

3. the budget of the acquisition/the suggested fee

4. who holds the masters rights/do we need to obtain the masters rights for our purpose

Some notes I took from the book: Clearance and Copyright: Everything you need to know for film and television, 3rd Edition by Michael C. Donaldson here

Clearing the use of the music from publisher:

Terms of use:

After sending them the form, then they will provide a quote that is good for somewhere between 30 to 90 days. Be sure to obtain this written quote before the final mix. Usually, don’t sign the actual contract until after the final mix.

Uses of the music:

Determine the music’s role in the film: playing in the background, performed in the movie by other of the characters, performed over the credits, used as the title of the film – each one of these uses is progressively more expensive to obtain.


Disclose the scenes as accurately as possible. Some owners may not want their music used as the background for certain kinds of scenes such as a suicide or a sexually explicit scene.

Festival License: grants synch licenses for limited festival exhibition. usually a few hundred dollars. Be sure to obtain a quote for full rights and mention it specifically in your festival license agreement. (?) That way you know exactly what your licensing budget will be if a distributor is interested in your film. Having this information is good business, and it makes you look more professional to potential distributors.

Generally the rights that you want to obtain from the publisher: Public Performance Rights and Reproduction Rights, these are the rights contained in a standard synch license agreement. (Performance of a song or other piece of music by itself, apart from a play or a film, is referred to as small rights. Performance of a song or other piece of music as an integral part of a play or a film is called grand rights.)

Reproduction rights:

divided into synchronization rights and mechanical rights. Synchronization rights: synchronizing the music with visual images. Mechanical rights: the music is to be reproduced on audio records, CDs, or tapes. You definitely need mechanical rights if a soundtrack album is released. Mechanical rights are automatically granted, you may decide to forego the extra expanse of obtaining these rights.

Out of context rights: to use music from your film in the trailer for your film, need to get specific permission. Usually have to pay extra for this permission, because it is using the music to advertise the film. – means having the right to use the music for the entire film does not necessarily mean that we can use the music in the trailer, the trailer needs a different permission.
Be sure to look out for a “most favored nations” or “MFN” clause in your music license. Most favored nations means that the party of the particular license you are dealing with wants to be treated the same as any other party with similar content.

Clearing the use of a specific recording:

Have to negotiate with the persons who own the copyright to the song and the copyright to the specific sound recording you want to use.

Step 1: locate the rights holder: the recording company. (TBC)


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