Friday, May 8, 2020

We made $800 in our Disney movie fundraiser, but Disney billed us $250 because we showed it with a license.

Image result for copyright symbolIn the February 3, 2020 edition of the Sacramento Bee that an elementary school is California had a fundraiser by showing the Disney Movie "The Lion King" and then promptly received a bill because they forgot to purchase a license (for $250) to show it. A parent of a student at the school and a member of the Berkeley City Council, blasted Disney in a Twitter thread over the demand, stating that she could not believe that Disney went after a elementary school that struggles to pay it teachers.  Disney backed off the threat and realized eating a $250 bill was waaaay smarter than the public relation nightmare it would of have by pursing it.

I work at a Middle/High School (grades 7-12) in Massachusetts and like Laoco├Ân warning the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, I have warned people about showing movies for a non-educational purpose but it has always fell on deaf ears because really who has actually ever gotten "bagged" for this deed?  Well this school did, for good or bad it is copyright infringement. 

I have had the head of the sports boosters tell me that it was totally legal to charge people admission (as a fundraiser) to watch the movie "Air Bud".  She kept coming back saying it fell under "Fair Use", and no it doesn't.  Just because you are using it in an education setting, notice I said educational setting not EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE, that makes everything OK. It doesn't.

MUSIC and Copyright
Another cause of my angst was the use of copyrighted music without permission for a non-
Educational Purpose.  I've heard everything: "I'm a teacher so it's OK", "As long as it is instrumental music it's OK"...somebody hand me a Tums. In 2000, I started an internet radio station for our school and I wanted to play music, and since I worked at a real radio station as well I knew that involved buying a license.  I was familiar with BMI and ASCAP, the two major licensing entities. This time, with everybody and their grandmother posting videos of support, tributes, etc., I wanted to find out how to keep my staff from going to jail...kidding.

ASACP was very helpful.  They said that they major licensing entities worked a deal with Facebook, You Tube…those companies actually paid for the license fees.  So ASCAP said as song the belong in the ACE Repertory you can post.  Check out the Repertory.

But it gets EVEN BETTER!!!  

Facebook Videos Now Allowed To Feature Copyrighted Music
As of June 2018, Facebook users will no longer have to worry about their videos being taken down because they contain licensed music. Previously, Facebook blocked videos that included copyrighted music. With the new rules, when users upload Facebook videos containing music, they will be informed if the included song is allowed through the licensing deals acquired by the social network. If not, the video will be muted, unless the uploader submits a dispute. The label that holds the copyright may then approve the usage of the song in the video through the Rights Manager tool of Facebook.

Facebook will reportedly provide compensation to labels and artists whose music is used in videos uploaded to the platform. However, the company did not disclose the rates, and whether the compensation would be computed based on the number of uploads or on video hits.


When questions arise about Copyright, I use the following questions as a Framework for Copyright Analysis.
  1. Is the work protected by Copyright?
  2. (if #1 is yes) Is their a specific exception in Copyright Law that covers my use?
  3.  (if #1 is yes) Is there a license that covers my use?
  4. Is my use covered by Fair Use?
Some exceptions
  1. The Teach Act (online classrooms)
  2. In Class performances (classroom exception): Section 110(1): Classroom use.
  3. Library exception: Section 108 Library & Archives
  4. First Sale
  5. Fair Use (see below)
Fair Use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified, for the purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

Unfortunately, the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is a fair use is to have it resolved in federal court. Judges use four factors to resolve fair use disputes, as discussed in detail below. It’s important to understand that these factors are only guidelines that courts are free to adapt to particular situations on a case‑by‑case basis. In other words, a judge has a great deal of freedom when making a fair use determination, so the outcome in any given case can be hard to predict.

The Four Factors of Fair Use
  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not exclude it from the use being judged by these factors.