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Amateur Cinematographer's Recording Licence

Following Janet's session at the Practical Evening last Tuesday (12th Sept 2017), I decided to follow this up.

If you make a video or audiovisual show, and give it a soundtrack ripped from a CD or download, you are probably violating the copyright of that sound clip. To be allowed to use that sound recording for these sort of purposes, you need the copyright owner to grant you a licence to do so. For example, when you buy a CD or a DVD, all you own is the physical bit of plastic, you don't own the content - that is owned by the copyright holder. What you have bought is the right to play that track or watch that film in private. Here "private" means so that only you or your immediate family can enjoy it. You cannot even legally copy it - not to another computer, or to an MP3 player, a make a backup DVD ... or use it as your AV's soundtrack! To play it to other people or to copy it legally - you need the copyright owner's permissions.

The laws of copyright allow artists, writers, composers and film makers to treat their work rather like a possession which they can sell or rent out to others. This is how such people make their living. They can also refuse anyone else the right to use it. So, if your video or audiovisual features anyone else's work you need to make sure you have their permission to do so.

Getting that permission is generally rather difficult and expensive. TV companies and the like employ numbers of people full time to do such things. However, the Film & Video Institute (IAC) has reached agreements with the relevant bodies to allow amateur photographers/cinematographers to use certain copyright materials for non-commercial purposes. IAC has negotiated special arrangements with the various licencing bodies allowing the use of both Library music and Commercial recordings in members’ sound tracks for their video, film, and audio visual presentations.



MCPS protects the Rights of the Composer and permits the licensee to record (dub) musical works owned by its members which have previously been released as a sound recording on condition that the recordings are privately used only:

a) For exhibition to friends and relations in private
b) On amateur movie, photographic or video club premises where admission is free or where a charge is made for club funds
c) For public exhibition when such is promoted for the raising of club funds or for bone fide charitable causes
d) For not more than TWO public exhibitions held annually in addition to those in (a) and (b) above
e) For exhibition at annual amateur movie, photographic or video festivals attended by competitors and friends
f) Exhibition to judges in amateur film, photographic or video competitions
g) For inclusion, as clips and short videos, in YouTube - provided there is no financial gain and no commercial advertising is attached. Such clips may be "embedded" in IAC and club websites so long as they are hosted by YouTube.

The licence clears FOR ALL TIME dubbings made within the twelve months of the licence.


In normal circumstances the record companies do not permit their commercial products to be re-recorded or dubbed. The BPI licence issued by IAC on their behalf permits the copying of recordings made by leading manufacturers. The BPI licence permits an unlimited number of copies of recordings to be made within the conditions of the licence during one year from its date of issue.

It should be noted that Copyright in the recording is separate from any other Copyright attached to the material recorded. Even if the material is free from any other Copyright the RECORDING itself is Copyright to the recordist or the record manufacturer.

The BPI licence covers the RECORDING PROCESS of all recordings made by leading manufacturers and its conditions are as follows:

a) The original recording used by the licensee must be his/her personal property and purchased through regular retail channels
b) The names of all instrumental groups, bands, orchestras, choruses, solo artists and/or performers shall NOT be identified in subtitles or credits etc.
c) All other Copyrights e.g. Composer, Performer, shall be cleared before the recordings are copied or dubbed
d) That no copies of the sound tracks on which the recordings reside be used for any other purposes whatsoever.

Applying for the licences

To qualify for these two licences you must be a member of IAC, the Royal Photographic Society, the Scottish Association of Movie Makers, or the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. You join PAGB by joining an affiliated club - and PPS is one of these - so our members qualify.

Download the application form here: http://www.theiac.org.uk/join/forms/Copyright_Licences_Form.pdf

The current fees (2017) are £7.13 for the MCPS licence and £1.41 for the BPI licence, making £8.54 in total (incl. VAT).

Note that these licences are fairly limited to club functions and photographic competitions. They don't give you the right to perform your AVs in public. If you want to do that, there is an additional Phonographic Performance Licence, but that is only available to IAC members - so you would need to join IAC as well as purchase that particular licence.