It is common practice for producers to seek and incorporate other artists’ work into a new production concept. Why reinvent the wheel? When using other people’s work to support the creation of a new project it is ethically if not legally imperative to keep the following in mind.
1. Always ask permission before using another artist’s work in your production. The internet has served as a tremendous avenue for the dissemination and gathering of information and ideas. But the availability of this information for personal viewing and entertainment does not mean it is available to be freely incorporated in to a production without acknowledgment or payment to the original creator. Whether your production is personal or commercial in nature, always ask permission before incorporating another artist’s work into your production.
3. Royalty free does not mean payment free. There are countless websites that offer royalty free music, photos and video. Royalty free items generally come at a steep, one time only payment. What you get for the money is the right to use the element in your production and not have to pay the artist a percentage of your sales as a royalty. Most royalty free items are original works created specifically for purchase and use by production companies. Since these items are created specifically for production companies, the prices generally run lower than trying to buy the rights to use mainstream elements (like a billboard top 40 song) in a production.
4. Always read the fine print. When purchasing a production element, even royalty free elements, a contract of service is entered into. The terms of that service vary from company to company and item to item. Always read the end-user license agreement for purchasing a 3rd party production element. Some royalty free sites will charge one fee if the element is for personal or educational uses and will charge another fee if the element is to be used in a commercial product. Other sites cater more toward the broadcast business and have very stringent guidelines and stiffer fees for using their product.
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