by Flip Michaels
OK. Mr. PD wants an interesting sound bite for the latest Valentine's Day promo. Now it's your job to find it. No prob! Just surf the Net, right?! Wrong. Once again, you could be headed down that road to copyright infringement.
"What it really comes down to... is radio having a certain amount of latitude with ASCAP and BMI fees", says just one of the many Harry Fox Agency Reps I talked with. The Harry Fox Agency is the crew that handles a majority of the rights, concerns and interests with regards to publishers. "Aside from the fact that your first question should be if you obtained the bite off an official Internet site or not, no clearance means you're in the wrong." So if I use a Seinfeld sound bite in a generic Valentine's Day promo -- our station could get sued?! "Could. Yes." But no dollars have exchanged hands? "It's a common sense situation. If FOX-TV is advertising on your station, I'm sure you've got some room to breathe. Just remember, the material you are using is most likely copyrighted. If you don't have permission or at the very least a relationship with the originator of that bite -" I could get sued! "Right." Wow.
Prod Pros be advised. Watch what you use and how you use it. Taking a Touched By An Angel bite and using it during a break for say, the Greaseman could be asking for trouble. Even if it's just a program promo. The rule of thumb is this: when using copyrighted material, be sure to use it as the artist has intended (i.e. Sting, for a Sting concert). When dollars are involved, permission is definitely needed. Using a film clip in a generic promo should be OK, so long as it is not used in a way that would upset the creator of it (i.e. using a Little House on the Prairie bite in a Metallica promo is just asking for a friend of the mother of the Producer's spouse to be driving within listening distance and start the ball rolling with a lawsuit. Got it!?). A music clip is definitely OK, so long as you are using it in a programming fashion (i.e. "music from the 60's" Beatles tune, "70's" N. Diamond tune "80's" Chicago tune "and today" Adams/Streisand release "we're Magic 94.3"). Remember, "What it really comes down to... is radio having a certain amount of latitude with ASCAP and BMI fees", stations pay to use the music – and in the production room, you're walking a thin line by holding a razor blade (or squeaky mouse) to someone else's work. So just be careful! Use common sense!!
Communicate with both your Program Director and General Manager. Be wise. Or you and your station could be asking "what went wrong?" For more specific answers, feel free to reach the agency at (212) 922-3266. Or drop me a line at
Wes Shainline, Production Director at Philly's WDRE-FM asks: "If a station has already legally/officially purchased workstation software (in our case, the DigiDesign ProTools software) for use with one studio, can that station or individual simply copy the software for a second computer/studio? Is the specific software specially coded to a specific hard drive of a single computer? Or will we have to fork out a duplicate sum of money for the duplicate program? Just wondering "
What's really nice about DigiDesign is that they truly understand our medium. A Product Specialist informed me that no, you don't have to fork over any additional dough for a duplicate workstation. As a matter of fact, DigiDesign includes "two authorizations" for each software package purchase. Meaning, you can stick'em in any two computers you'd like! To get a third, yes - then you would have to pay (but you would also get a fourth). If you're on the 'net, be sure to check out their deluxe help page at www.Digidesign .com/Newdigiweb/Digiservice/ techserv.html, or call 1-800-333-2137. It's really something!