Honoring the Copyrights of Composers, too

Many photographers use music to enhance their photography. But since music is a work protected by copyright law, make sure that you honor the copyright of the composer, too.

Most photographers recognize that copying music from a friend or downloading from a music sharing website is illegal. But even if you purchased the CD or song outright, you may be infringing on the copyrights if you use the music for more than personal purposes.

When you buy music, you are not purchasing the copyright. Instead, you are getting a license to use the music in specific ways. It’s the same as licensing your photo to a company for a specific use. If the company uses your image beyond the established permissions, your copyright is infringed. If you give your bride copies of the photos from her wedding with permission to use them for personal use, she would violate your copyright if she even donated them to “Bride’s Magazine.”

In general, when you buy a CD or a song, the permitted use is for personal purposes only. If you play the music at a party at your house, you probably are still using the music within the particular boundaries. But if you play the music in your commercial studio or used it to accompany your slideshow presentation for a client, you more than likely have gone beyond the rights granted to you when you purchased the CD. Check the small print on the CD to be sure.

So what are your options if you want some music for your photography? You can write your own music or you can get permission from the composer. A couple of websites make it easier to obtain those rights: www.musicbakery.com or www.freeplaymusic.com. You also can use software such as Apple’s new Soundtrack Pro or Garage Band to create your own music. These programs are easy to use, even if you don’t have much musical skill.

Just as photographers don’t want their copyrights infringed, composers don’t either. Respect the composer’s work. Get the necessary permission when using music to support your photography.

Take my advice; get professional help.

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