Granting of user licenses and remuneration for the music in films

Many studies about production music companies were conducted on the basis of the economic and social information provided by the companies (of any legal form) as part of their affiliation. Only companies engaged in a major performing activity in the field of contemporary music and varieties were selected. 

Main activity carried out by variety show companies in meaning of their activities, in particular associations whose object is not essentially the domain of performing arts or publishing and music production companies whose show activity is important but not within the meaning of their principal characteristics. 

An overlook of the sector of music production 

The music production sector consists of all the companies who work in the area of production and exploitation of live music (producers and organizers of shows, turners) and recorded music (producers / publishers distributors and phonographers, but also of those who intervene on the management of artists’ rights or careers (music publishers, managers, agents artistic, rights managers).

This sector brings together a multitude of production music companies operating and structuring very heterogeneous, which represent a significant challenge in terms of production and exploitation of works, development of artists’ careers, economic development and access to cultural employment. As such, these production companies must be considered as cultural actors in their own right, working on artistic and aesthetic fields in full evolution, working on an economy often precarious and implementing a true accompaniment of artists.

License for the use of music

Here we intend to propose a brief introduction to the law author of music applied to film and television productions. This is an extremely complex legal area, so the purpose is simply to provide a general and non-exhaustive overview of these legal issues. We will first discuss the legal status of the film music composer, with a focus on the differences between different copyright systems. In a second step, the general rules on user licensing and remuneration should also be outlined. 

Sometimes the issue of licensing is considered is above all a story of money. But the money stories can weigh a considerable weight in artistic choices. If the budget of movies are tight, movies that cost up to $ 15 million, including the salary of the director – it is difficult, because there are many things the scriptwriters and directors would like to do and that they can not do. 

Sometimes the producers of the movies just cannot get licensed music, so they use some tricky ways when they do not have the means to pay the music. Sometimes a solution can be found using only opera, and arranging with an opera company that released an album of their singers to get the music. What could be considered a bold artistic choice (the sound of old recordings being far removed from current hi-fi standards) is in fact only the result of a sound economic strategy (reducing item of musical expenses using recordings free of rights, belonging to the public domain). 

A sector in flux

The music production sector has for a long time operated on a “classical” scheme composed of:

– from the record industry: record companies (major companies – group-related structures

multinational – and independent labels, distributors;

– the stage industry (show producers, touring entrepreneurs);

– career management professions: artistic agents, managers;

– rights management: music production companies.

Taking into account the progress on the part of music in society (record and stage market), the arrival of new media and broadcast media (radio, audio cassettes, CDs, etc.), and always demonstrated a great ability to reposition and adjust in terms of means and scale. Licensing issues can block the entire distribution of a production. One of the solutions is of course to replace the subject music of the dispute by another work.

General rules of music licensing 

There are different ways to include musical works in a movie. These differences determine the mode of acquisition of the musical rights for film production. In the case of a specially composed musical work for a film, the producer of the film negotiates with the composer the amount of the rights to obtain the authorization to synchronize his music with the images of the film (Synch license).

This license grants the holder the right to use a musical composition in the soundtrack of a film. Normally, it also includes a reproduction right (also called mechanical right) 28. This license also defines the modes of exploitation of the work (cinemas, television, DVD, online exploitation, etc.), the geographical territory of exploitation (a given country / region / continent, or the whole world) and its duration (a limited period of time or the term of protection of copyright). 

The license must be obtained from the original rights holders, that is to say the composer of the musical work as well as the author of the lyrics. Since most composers and lyricists usually have their work done by a music production company, usually the latter who is able to concede synchronization rights.

If the producer wishes to use an audio recording existing record which includes a particular musical work, it must obtain a license for the use of the registration original sound (Master Use license). It grants the holder the right to include a sound recording in the filmstrip and, in particular, defines the modes of exploitation of registration, the geographical territory of the holding, as well as its duration.