A graduate of Villanova Law School, Steven C. Beer is an entertainment attorney and author of a book entitled Your Child’s Career in Music and Entertainment: The Prudent Parent’s Guide. Steven C. Beer’s work as an author extends to his current position as a legal contributor to Documentary Magazine, in which he recently highlighted the risks filmmakers take when they procure festival licensing rather than full licensing for songs in a film.
A festival license for a song included in a documentary film is much more affordable than a full license, but the end result of failing to fully license a song may have far-reaching consequences. When a documentary screens at a major festival and receives a positive response, distributors may express a desire to purchase the film under the condition that the film is delivery-ready, meaning that the creator of the film has secured the rights to use all songs included in the score.
Considering that a well-placed song has the potential to make or break the creative atmosphere of a scene, a film without full licensing may signal to a distributor that the costs associated with procuring the film as it was shown at the festival may be too high, and may reduce a distributor’s interest in purchasing the film. Furthermore, in the event that a film is picked up by a distributor, the additional cost of full licensing after an initial investment in licensing for the festival incurs a much higher cost than simply purchasing the full rights to a song in the first place.
Learn more about music licensing in documentary films by reading the full article at http://www.documentary.org/column/legal-faq-facing-music.