Does the NFDA music license allow the funeral home to record popular songs on to DVDs and video tributes?
No. The NFDA music license is a “performance” license that allows music to be performed. In order to record music to a DVD or video, a “synchronization” license is required. BMI, ASCAP and SESAC do not issue synchronization licenses. The only way to obtain a synchronization license is through the producer of each song which is to be recorded. This makes it nearly an impossible task for a funeral home to put multiple songs on a tribute DVD or video.
What are the penalties for copyright infringement?
For each song that is performed without a license, damages are set by federal statute at a range of $750 to $30,000. However, if the jury finds that the infringement was “willful,” the damages can be increased up to $150,000 per song. In addition, an infringer who loses the lawsuit will have to pay the attorney’s fees of the plaintiff.
Synchronization licenses are for video products (DVDs, YouTube videos, other web videos, and slideshows).
If you use an original recording belonging to someone else (for example an actual Beatles recording featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison) you will need a synchronization license to pay the composer for the right to use the composition (song), and also a master license to pay the artists for the right to use the recording.
Note that synchronization licensing can be challenging because, by law, synchronization rights holders maintain total control of their works when it comes to video. This means they can set any fee, take all the time they need, and reject the license outright. Many factors affect the response, including budget, use, and even the current workload of the copyright holder’s processing department. For this reason, it is important to temper expectations when requesting a synchronization license.
Synchronization licenses must be secured before distribution. However, because they are hard to get, we suggest making your request many months before your anticipated release date.