Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to not get the Rights to a Doors Song in 3 Easy Steps

Have you ever been fiddling around with a trailer for your thesis film and thought, "eh, what the hell, let me throw "Break on Through" in here until I get an original piece of music from our composer, just for shits and gigs."? Have you then thought, after hearing how weirdly well the song works with your compilation of clips, "Well damn, that sounds pretty good! It's probably completely impossible to get the rights to this song, but what if I tried anyways?" If, for some overly coincidental reason, you've had those exact thoughts, this short, fairly unhelpful blog post is for you.

1. Find a Loophole.

The first step in not getting the rights to a Doors song is to find a semi-shady legal loophole, cause god knows you're not going to get it any other way. The best way to go about doing this is to find the contact information for whoever owns the rights to the song you'd like to use. Turns out, ASCAP has the rights, but you should be able to find an email address to contact a third party at. Using this email address, explain how you'd like to use "Break on Through" for free - since you won't be making anything that even resembles a profit off of this project - and that the only use of the song won't be in the actual film, just in the promotional trailer. Be polite, but then also include this crucial statement: "If we don't hear back from you within a few days, we'll assume that the answer is yes, and will include the song in our trailer." Gotta love those loopholes.

2. Fill out an official request.

After a bit of time has passed, you should get an automated response from the owners of the song, asking you to please click on an additional link to fill out a request to use the song. "Ok," you'll think. "Now we're getting somewhere. Maybe I can use this after all." Don't worry, that's just the false hope. You will not get the rights to this Doors song.

But you keep trying! You fill out the whole form, explaining again how it's a non-profit student production. You offer to show them the content of the trailer and explain what the overall film is about. Butter them up a bit, and say that you think the song really exemplifies the tone you're going for in the trailer, blah blah blah, all that good stuff. Then submit the form, and keep your fingers crossed!

3. Get rejected.

Pretty self-explanatory, really. You will get an official looking email from Kim Stockemer, the Director of Copyright and Licensing for Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. that basically turns out to be a cease and desist letter. She'll include some copy and pasted line about how they carefully deliberated and seriously considered the proposal, but unfortunately won't be giving you the rights to use the song.

And that's it! That's how you (pretty predictably) can find yourself getting absolutely no rights to using a Doors song in a movie trailer. Hope that saves a very niche portion of you a couple minutes of your time.

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