Wedding photographer Joe Simon learned about copyright the hard way recently after his video of Tony Romo’s wedding went viral on YouTube. He had used the song “Fix You” by Coldplay without permission, and was forced to take down the video and pay a settlement to avoid a costly lawsuit. David Walker of Photo District News has an illuminating article on the issue:
“It’s nearly impossible and I’ve never heard of a wedding photographer successfully being able to license a mainstream song for synchronized use,” [wedding photographer David Jay] says. “I’ve spent a long time trying to make it possible. Photographers want to pay a reasonable fee to use the music so when they can’t they’ll just do it anyway.”
The problem, Jay explains, is that you have to get a license from three or four different people, including the lyricist, the composer, and the recording artist and/or their record company. While rights licensing organizations such as ASCAP and BMI make it easy to license music for broadcast, they don’t offer synchronization licenses for “small” users like wedding photographers.