Why use expensive staff? Why pay high copyright fees?

11/01/2012

If you come from a non-broadcast business, you may be shocked at the costs of making broadcast TV and the cost of hiring professional crew members. You may be frequently thinking;  “I can find you someone who will work for less than that.”  or “I know someone who can make that cheaper”.

You shouldn’t doubt that there is always someone cheaper, but it’s usually preferable to be interested in having someone more talented, someone with a track record in HD production for broadcast and someone with insurance and a proven ability to deliver on time and on budget safely. If someone is injured or fails to deliver, your production may have to bear the cost.

Handmade, home grown solutions often seem attractive and they are suitable for domestic use but often not for the specific requirements of high quality broadcasters.

You may hear comments like ‘why is the music so expensive – there’s tons of cheaper stuff on the internet?’. Well, it’s true, there is, but unfortunately it’s rarely cleared for broadcast. And even when it is, it’s never going to match up to a piece that’s specially composed to fit your beautifully, precisely edited show. Anyone can plaster a bit of music over a sequence but not everyone can see how much more effective it is to have bespoke music, underscoring the mood and drawing attention where the director wants it, The apparently cheap solution can become staggeringly expensive if copyright is infringed. A professional composer will be on their guard against accidental breaches of copyright. It’s much safer, as well as more creative, to compose specific programme music you know is clear of copyright issues.

The same is true of many other works of art required by programme makers, such as illustrations, book covers, posters, photographs, film inserts, scripts – all of these are much less trouble if specially created for the programme. Then and only then, can you feel safe that there are no copyright encumbrances coming back to bite you at a later, and much more expensive, date.

Another issue you may encounter is zealous,  but untrained enthusiastic volunteers ‘researching’ costs for you and then coming up with domestic/educational rates which look attractively cheap. Many copyright holders will allow schools, charities and home users to have a very cheap licence eg for a font, an image, a piece of music, a piece of film. But if you proceed to broadcast any copyright item of this nature you MUST be very clear that it is for broadcast so that the copyright holder can reflect that usage in the price. A font that costs £25 for a home user can become a £5,000 font if you want to use it for commercial purposes. Check before you use it, not after. You can’t take back a broadcast.

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