Q: I’m a documentarian. If I were to record a live show as part of a documentary — audio and visual — am I free to use it even if there’s live music being played in the background?
A: Look, I’m no math magician, but one of the things I always liked about math is that it’s a world of definitive answers. In my simplistic view, the world to a mathematician is one big black and white cookie. It may be a complicated black and white cookie, but it’s black and white nonetheless.
I, for some reason, chose to be a lawyer. In the world of law, nothing is black and white. It’s all grey. And if we’ve learned anything from grey goo, May Grey, people who spell grey “gray,” and Grey’s Anatomy, it’s that grey sucks.
Unfortunately for us lawyers, most people assume that the law is black and white… that there are simple yes and no answers to legal questions. But there rarely are. Lawyers are paid big bucks to always find a counterpoint to every point raised by their opponent — and counterpoints usually exist. To make matters worse, sometimes legality and reality diverge. Even if you find yourself on the right side of one of those rare black and white legal situations, it may not matter unless you’re willing to pay a lawyer to enforce your rights, or defend you, in court. Proving you’re right, even when it’s painfully obvious that the law is on your side, can be an expensive endeavor, especially if the party on the other side has money and a bad attitude.
Continue Reading Q&A: What Copyright Rules Apply if I Record a Live Show for My Film?