El Paso

License requirements could change how marching band performances are recorded

New license requirements could change...

EL PASO, Texas - Bands across the borderland are now having to reevaluate how their performances are recorded, and where they can be shown.

Music licensing company Tresona has told the Universal Interscholastic League (UIL) that anyone who records a band playing must have what's called a synchronization license if they want to share that recording. That license covers the band's choreography.

"We're in new territory and we're trying to to make sure that we have the definitions. We're feeling our way right now," Socorro I.S.D. director of fine arts Don Rominsky said. "We have to respect the copyright laws."

Rominsky said this had never been an issue until this year. He said schools have certain rights, because they can record performances for educational purposes -- but not commercial purposes.

"Make sure that you're sharing it with family, friends, with people at the school. Education is fine, but make sure that it does not wander into one of those commercial sites," Rominsky said.

Tresona states on its website: 

"Permission to video record a performance or add music to video is granted through a Synchronization License. You need a Synchronization License whether you are simply adding background sound to a visual presentation or video clip, or if you are video recording a performance or song."

UIL announced that it would no longer be selling copies of performances of marching band competitions across the state. Instead, the organization will be live streaming the performances on its website.


Tresona executive vice president Larry Mills tells ABC-7 the need of a synchronization license is nothing new. In a letter he explains:

Synchronization licenses have existed since audio-visual recordings became available, and are not new to the music industry. Indeed, they form an integral revenue stream for composers, music publishers, and other rights holders.

Mills also disputes Rominsky's claim that it is ok for individuals to share these performances on their social media accounts.

The use of a video for social media posting, résumés, applications, display to the public, showing to third parties outside the ensemble (e.g., friends or family), competitive edge, and so on are all non-educational purposes and are strictly prohibited (contrary to what was stated in the news report).

Section 107 of The Copyright Act states:

 The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

Mills said that Tresona is willing to work with schools. 

Synchronization fees for educational establishments typically run into the price range of $100 per musical composition recorded. In April of 2017 the music publishers and Tresona began to offer schools the ability to film all their ensemble performances, as many times as they want, and to cover the synchronization licensing for the whole school for one annual fee.

The company provides an on-demand streaming service called The Scholastic Performance Network (SPiN). There's an annual fee of $1,000 for high schools.

Schools can film the performances and upload them to SPiN. Mills said music teachers are provided with a free account than they can access for classroom use. Anyone else who wants to watch a performance would have to subscribe to SPiN for $25 a year.

Mills said Tresona approached UIL about SPiN back in April, but said UIL declined to purchase the service because of "various other pressing matters, and the recovery effort after the devastating hurricane in southern Texas."

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