Why You (and Your Videographer!) Have Got to Legally License the Songs in Your Wedding Video



This post on Glamour’s bridal blog about a wedding videographer who freaked out when a bride of hers shared her wedding video on their site caught our eye this week—and gave us one of those “huh” moments.

The videographer was nervous because the wedding video in question was accompanied by a soundtrack with unlicensed songs—and then there it was, out in public, for all the world to see. Because the thing is, if all you’re ever going to do with your wedding video is weep at it with your family and friends on your couch and maybe pop it in the player every few years to wonder if you could still fit into your dress, then that’s fine. It doesn’t matter what songs are on it.

But in this day and age, that is very rarely all a bride is going to do with her wedding video. It gets emailed around, it gets posted on Facebook, on YouTube, on your videographer’s site, featured on heavily trafficked wedding blogs, which are basically online magazines—and if you are not covered to use the song commercially, then you could have problems. You never know when something’s going to go viral.

“Two friends of mine were sued a few years back for using EMI music that was copyrighted, because the video went viral, and guess who saw it? EMI,” says Dave Williams, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind Philadelphia’s CinemaCake Filmmakers. He says that this is a topic they deal with every week, because in short, most music cannot be used legally in a wedding video, and because of this, many videographers unknowingly put themselves at risk.

So how can you make sure you’re covered if you know your wedding video is going to get clicked on a gazillion times before your first anniversary? Talk to your videographer about how they handle the soundtracks for their videos. CinemaCake, for one, handles all that for the client—down to actually choosing the songs (which they license through services like Song Freedom) that will accompany footage of their Big Day. “We used to give clients links to the various services we use for licensing so they could go through and pick out their music, but what we found was that it was actually too overwhelming for clients to have that much choice,” says Sheryl Williams. “They like the fact that we do it for them—{the music} is part of why they fell in love with our films to begin with!”

In the Williams’ experience, if a client has had a particular song in mind they wanted for their wedding video that, for whatever reason—it’s not available through licensing companies, or it costs thousands of dollars for that particular tune—couldn’t be licensed, 99 percent of the time, says Sheryl, the client has changed their mind. “For the other one percent, they just understand that their film can’t be shown publicly for any reason.”

Something to think about before finalizing things with your videographer—or at least, before hitting “Upload,” “Send,” or “Post.”

Have any of you run into this issue with your wedding video? What have you decided to do? 

Like Philadelphia Wedding on Facebook

Follow Philadelphia Wedding on Twitter

Sign up for the Philadelphia Wedding newsletter

Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Philadelphia Weddings' guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.