(CC) & ©

As a visual effects studio, we have to deal with copyrighted material.  Make no mistake about it.  We cannot show material without permission.  And the copyright extends to us marketing ourselves on our own web site.  Every image we show has to be cleared.  Every time we want to cut a reel or update the webpage, it becomes a major mission.  Over the years, I have adopted a conservative stance regarding clearances, mostly because I don't want to deal with the legal hassles.  I know you can argue fair use for certain things, but why bother? Another issue is music.  Truthfully I don't know all the in and outs of copyright law, so we have been finding our own legal, original music for years now.  How?  Simple.  I ask them.  Most composers are happy to allow a short one to two minute piece of music to be included on our webpage.  It's usually a piece of music that they have lying around anyway.  So it's no skin off their back to supply a track in the hope that a movie producer will take a fancy to it.

Actually that happens sometimes.

Usually I have found music through our work connections.  If we are working on a film and the director has an especially close relationship with us or the composer, we are in a position to propose a collaboration.  Less often, I have found music from forums I frequent.  In general we offer free exposure and a couple of DVDs of the finished clip.  This has worked out well for both parties.  Here are a few of the composers we have worked with:

Kevin Jackson John Dickson Josh Jones Geoff Zanelli

Recently our website has become in need of a major upgrade graphic wise.  Many new films have been released, and now it's time to promote the work.  So once again we are updating the demo reel(s) for the studio.  And the search is on for music.  This time I didn't want to ask the same composers for more work.  I don't like to piss them off by asking them too many times, so I decided to try a new resource.  The creative commons license scheme.

If you don't know what the cc license is, I recommend you google up Laurence Lessing. He is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the School's Center for Internet and Society.  Creative Commons is an attempt at reforming the badly needing reform copyright law.

So I go to the CC music resource page.  At first it seemed like treasure trove of good music.  Everywhere I looked was free music for taking!  Until I started looking at their license closely.  There are 6 possible licenses the music can have.  It turns out I can use two of them.  The other licenses are too restrictive or require me to turn over ownership over copyright that I don't have.  After a couple of false starts (subatomicglue, I'm looking at you) we are finally having some success.

I still want to have a personal connection with the musicians, so I don't just grab some tracks and start editing.  Even though I can use the music without notifying the artists, I still make sure to start a correspondence with them to get their input. A couple of guys have been very nice; others haven't wanted to do this.

More to come...