Getting Permission

 

Music Publisher Contacts
Record Company Contacts
Film Clip Clearance Contacts
Television Clip Clearance Contacts
Books, Articles, Photos and Illustrations Clearance Contacts 


Sample Permission Letter For Music
Sample Permission Letter For Movies

To obtain permission to use a work protected by copyright, you must determine who is the copyright owner of the material you intend to use, contact the owner, and request the right to use the work in the territory and format you intend, and -- in some cases -- pay the owner a fee. Often the most difficult part of this process is finding the owner to ask permission to use the work. To make that a little easier, we have provided some information about researching copyright ownership for music, with addresses of record companies and music publishers, as well as film and television producers, publishers and other entities through which you might be able to clear rights. In addition, we have provided sample permission letters for you to use in drafting your letter to the copyright owners once you have identified them.

Music Publisher Contacts

Obtaining permission to use music is sometimes a little more confusing than obtaining permission to use other types of copyrighted works, because there are two different rights in any piece of recorded music: the rights to the song itself, which is what can be written on sheet music, and the rights to the particular recording. The songwriter(s) owns the rights to the song itself, but generally grants those rights to a "music publisher" to administer the rights. A particular recording of the song (what's on the CD) is generally owned by the record company that released the CD. If you want to use a recording of a song, you have to get permission from both the music publisher (to use the song itself) and the record company (to use the recording). Sometimes, people choose to make their own recording of a song. If this is what you want to do, then the only permission you would need to obtain is permission to use the song, which you would obtain from the music publisher(s). Also please be aware that songs can be owned by more than one music publisher. You need to obtain permission from all of the publishers who own copyrights in a song in order to use that song.

The easiest way to find the contact information for a music publisher is through ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. These organizations are called "performing rights societies;" their web site addresses are www.ascap.com, www.bmi.com and www.sesac.com. All songwriters and music publishers have to belong to one of these organizations, but membership is exclusive so each songwriter can be a member of only one of these organizations. If you go to the ASCAP site and you don't find the title you are looking for, chances are the song is represented by either BMI or SESAC. Also some songs are written by more than one songwriter, one of who may be with ASCAP and another with BMI and/or SESAC. Unfortunately, the performing rights societies will only give out the publisher information for the writers they represent. Therefore, if you want to use a song written by writers from different societies, you will need to go to each society's web site to find all of the publisher information. The label on the CD or cassette often indicates which performing rights society represents the writer of a particular song.

ASCAP's research tool is called the "ACE" system. When you arrive at the ASCAP web site, there is a menu choice at the top of the homepage labeled "ACE on the Web." When you click on this, it will give you a choice to "Query the Database;" choose this option. Next, you will see a box that says "Find." Make sure you put in the complete title of the song and highlight the choice that says "Title." When you find the song you are looking for, click on the publisher name(s) and you will find the contact information

BMI's research tool is called "HyperRepertoire Song Search" and it is at the bottom of the BMI site homepage. Type in the title of the song you are looking for and hit "enter." The default setting for this search tool is the song title. When you find the song you are looking for, click on the publisher name(s) and you will find the contact information.

SESAC's research tool is at the top right side of the SESAC web site's homepage. Click on the word "Repertory." This will lead you to a page about the "Terms of Usage" of the web site. Click on the acceptance line and this will lead you to SESAC's search engine. Type in the song title you are looking for and hit "enter." The default setting for this search tool is the song title. When you find the song you are looking for, click on the publisher name(s) and you will find the contact information.

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Record Company Contacts

The bigger record companies use centralized offices that "clear rights for" (another way of saying, "give permission to use the works of") the numerous labels that they represent. The smaller record companies are much easier to find. For the smaller labels, simply look at the address on the back of the CD or cassette.

The following is the information for the bigger record companies:

 

BMG Entertainment

8750 Wilshire Blvd

Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Labels: Arista Records, Bad Boy Records, BMG Records, BMG Classics Records, BMG Latin Records, Budda Records, CMC Records, J Records, LaFace Records, RCA Records and Windham Hill Records

 

EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets

5750 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 300

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Labels: Apple Records, Capitol Records, Chrysalis Records, EMI Records, IRS Records, and Liberty Records

 

Sony Music Licensing

2100 Colorado Avenue

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Labels: CBS Records, C2 Records, Columbia Records, Epic Records, 550 Records, Legacy, Loud Records, Sony Records, and Work Records

 

Universal Music Enterprises

100 Universal City Plaza, Building 1440, 13th FL

Universal City, 91608

Labels: A&M Records, Decca Records, Def Jam Records, Deutsche Gramophone Records, Dreamworks Records, Geffen Records, Interscope Records, Island Records, London Records, MCA Records, Mercury Records, Motown Records, Phillips Classics, Polydor Records, Polygram Records, Rush Associated, Universal Records, and Verve Records

 

Virgin Records

338 N. Foothill Road

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

 

Warner Special Products

3500 West Olive, Suite 800

Burbank, CA 91505

Labels: Atlantic Records, Elektra Records, Giant Records, Maverick Records, Quest Records, Reprise Records, Rhino Records, Sire Records, Warner Bros. Records, and Warner Sunset Records

 

Zomba Enterprises

137‑139 West 25th Street

New York, NY 10001

Labels: Jive Records, Silvertone Records, Verity Records, and Volcano Records

 

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Film Clip Clearance Contacts

To obtain permission to use a film or a clip from a film, you should contact the copyright owner of the film. The copyright owner will be identified, usually in a full screen image at the beginning of the film, as well as in the copyright notice, which usually appears at the end of the end, credits of the film. If you have a video of the film, the copyright notice will also appear on the box and the videocassette itself. Information for most of the major film studios is listed below:

 

Columbia Pictures

10202 West Washington Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232

 

Dreamworks Pictures

100 Universal City Plaza, Building 477

Universal City, CA 91608

 

Fox 2000 Pictures

P.O. Box 900

Beverly Hills, CA 90213-0900

 

Paramount Pictures

5555 Melrose Avenue

Los Angeles, CA 90038

 

Touchstone Pictures/Disney

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

 

Universal Pictures

100 Universal City Plaza

Universal City, CA 91608

 

Warner Bros.

4000 Warner Boulevard

Burbank, CA 91522

 

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Television Clip Clearance Contacts

Figuring out whom to obtain permission from for a television show is similar to obtaining permission to use a film. The copyright owner will be identified in the copyright notice at the end of the program (at the end of the credits). Keep your eyes open because it may only be shown for an instant. Similarly, if you have a video of the film, the copyright notice will appear on the box and the videocassette itself. Information for many major owners of television programming is listed below:

 

ABC News

147 Columbus Avenue

New York, NY 10023

 

Buena Vista Television

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91321

 

Bunim-Murray Prods Inc.

6007 Sepulveda Boulevard

Van Nuys, CA 91411

 

CBS News

524 West 57th Street

New York, NY 10019

 

Columbia Pictures Television

9336 W. Washington Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232

 

Columbia TriStar Television

9050 W. Washington Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232

Comedy Central

2049 Century Park E., #2295

Los Angeles, CA 90067

 

E! Entertainment Television

5750 Wilshire Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.

15303 Ventura Blvd., #1400

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

 

Harpo Productions

Harpo Studios

110 N. Carpenter Street

Chicago, IL 60607

 

NBC News

30 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY 10112

 

NBC Studios

330 Bob Hope Drive

Burbank, CA 91523

 

Nickelodeon

1515 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

 

Paramount Domestic TV and

Paramount Network Television Prods.

5555 Melrose Avenue

Hollywood, CA 90038

 

Studios USA

8800 Sunset Boulevard

Hollywood, CA 90069

 

Titan Sports Inc.

PO Box 3857

Stamford, CT 06902

 

Twentieth Century Fox Television

10201 W. Pico Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90035

 

VH1

1515 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

 

Viacom Prods. Inc.

10880 Wilshire Blvd., #1101

Los Angeles, CA 90024

 

Walt Disney Television Animation

500 S. Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

 

Warner Bros. Animation

15301 Ventura Boulevard, Unit E

Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

 

Worldwide Pants Inc.

1697 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

 

Warner Bros. Television

4000 Warner Boulevard

Burbank, CA 91522

 

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Books, Articles, Photos and Illustrations Clearance Contacts

To obtain permission to use any part of a book, you should contact the publisher. The publisher will be listed in the copyright notice on one of the first few pages of the book. Often an address for the publisher is provided too. When requesting permission, be sure to include the ISBN number (which is how publishers identify the books), which usually appears near the copyright notice or on the cover of the book.

For articles, photos and illustrations appearing in magazines, the best place to start is the publisher of the magazine. The information for the publisher will be listed on the credits page of the magazine somewhere near the front. In some cases, where the writer, photographer or artist is not an employee of the publisher, they will retain the right to grant you permission, but magazine publisher will usually tell you how to contact them.

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