I am currently a Karaoke Host (legal) and would use my equipment and CDG collection to provide individuals the opportunity to record themselves for personal use. I plan to build a studio in my home and charge for my services. What Licensing, if any, would cover me in this business?
You are creating sound sound and video recordings without having the licenses that you need to do so. You need the owners of the copyrights in the musical compositions (songwriters or their publishers) to provide you with mechanical and synchronization licenses for use of the composition. Further, most karaoke operations make use of master recordings, which are altered to remove the original vocals. You need a license from the owner of the master recording to use it to create this "derivative" work. THe persons who record these songs in your home studio would need similar licenses before they could uses these recordings for anything other than personal use---for example, the persons who record these songs could not post their recordings on You Tube (legally), and could not even use them as demo recordings for purposes of auditions.
By the way, ASCAP and BMI have nothing to do with this. The licenses you need are from the copyright owners in the compositions and master recordings. ASCAP and BMI provide licenses to establishments that operate public karaoke nights (bars, restaurants, etc), but the people make and sell recordings for karaoke use must have licenses from the songwriters and record labels (owners of the master recordings). I can assure you that most legitimate manufacturers of karaoke tapes and systems obtain such licenses. It would be very dangerous to operate your proposed business without the proper licenses---if you achieve success you will likely be sued (or at least receive a demand for payment of substantial royalties.) My clients in the music industry are hungry for revenues, and they will go after you if you operate this business and get on their radar screen without obtaining the proper licenses.
The business that you are proposing is one that runs the risk of getting you sued. ASCAP and BMI only have to do with the performance of a song, not a recording or synchronization as you propose. The main problem is that you are operating a business in which you are making sound recordings (download or DVD) of a copyright registered composition and in effect(no matter how you word it) you are selling them. Even if you try and contract your way out of it with the customer, you may still be secondarily liable for contributing to copyright infringement. This service requires among other things, a mechanical license from the owner of the copyright in the composition. Additionally you are putting it together with a video which requires a synchronization license. Even if you had a legitimate legal defense it doesn't mean that a copyright owner will not file a lawsuit against you.Its not advisable to set up this type of business without proper licensing.You should consult with an entertainment attorney before doing anything.
I agree with Ivan - legally, you run afoul of copyright laws. But you could craft a reasonable release form where your clients would guarantee that this would be for personal use only, that if they post it online anywhere then they are responsible for any infringement actions, and that they will indemnify you against any lawsuits. That indemnification will not be perfect - it's only as good as, and only goes as high as, that person's monetary value (wealth/insurance/property). So ultimately, this is a risk question - are you comfortable enough with the risk of being sued under this scenario (probably remote, but not zero), that it's worth the business initiative and incomes gained by it?
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To the extent you have a license with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC to operate a Karaoke establishment, the license gives you the right to "publicly perform" the songs in question.
However, if you want to now make videos with the licensed songs, you would two things that you likely don't have at present: (i) the right to make a "derivative" work using the Karaoke recordings that you have (since you will be adding a new vocal track); and (ii) the right to "synchronize" the songs to picture.
The license to make a derivative work is called a Master Use License, and you would have to get that license from the owner of the master recordings in question (or the company that distributes the Karaoke recordings that you use), unless the Karaoke recordings that you use come with such a right attached.
The license to use the song composition (versus the recording) with picture is called a Synchronization License, and you would have to get that license from the owner/publisher of each song. ASCAP/BMI/SESAC are not in a position to negotiate these licenses.
As indicated, it would not be a simple (or inexpensive) endeavor to obtain the licenses you would need to operate this business with the required licenses. And, to operate it without the required licenses would leave you open to ever-increasing liability for violations of Copyright law.
Any answer or other information posted above is general in nature and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the posting attorney, and you are urged to engage a qualified attorney who is licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.
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