Copyright issues bring?downfall to student videoBack on Sept. 10, 2009, UQAM produced a large-scale video where members lip-synced a song and that song was later dubbed over the audio. That video was produced during their integration week by 172 communication students, and only a day later they released their lipdub video. That YouTube video turned viral, gaining international acclaim on its way to amassing over 10,000,000 views.
Soon, other university student groups followed suit. On March 26, 2011, the University of British Columbia created their lipdub video, which starred Juno-nominated, Vancouver-based Mariana’s Trench. That video was released less than two weeks later on April 8, 2011 and also exploded virally.
Videos have been produced at many other of Canada’s university’s including, University of Victoria, Queen’s University, McGill University, University of Montreal, York University, University of New Brunswick, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Guelph among others.
On Oct. 1, 2011, hundreds of University of Waterloo students gathered together on campus to produce their own lipdub video. Since that day of filming almost six months ago, many University of Waterloo students have been waiting anxiously to see what the lipdub team has created to represent their school.
Many wonder what has prevented the release of the video, and are frustrated at the lipdub group and the university’s administration. Finally we know that the release of the video will be put on hold for good.
According to Bud Walker, associate provost, students, it all comes down to copyright. Though the video finished post-production in December, the students were unaware that they were breaking copyright laws until it was shown to the administration.
When Lipdub approached the administration for final clearance, it became apparent that they had several songs that needed copyright clearance.“We knew pretty early on that that’s what they needed,” Walker said. “(But) we didn’t want to get too involved.”He maintained that Lipdub is a student endeavour, and unfortunately the organizers gathered the wrong information pertaining to Canadian copyright laws.“Their understanding was, based on the research that they’d done, that if they took portions of a song, they wouldn’t need to get copyright clearance,” Walker said.
The group was mislead by a website that claimed if they only used small portions of songs, as opposed to one or two full songs, they would not need to get copyright clearance. This information turned out to be an interpretation of American copyright law and not Canadian. The Lipdub team now faces a situation where they need to get clearance on the 11 songs they planned on using.“Getting copyright clearance is a huge endeavor,” Bud Walker said. “If you have one song that you can’t get copyright clearance for, the whole video is useless.”Getting the copyright clearance to one song can be tricky, considering everyone involved has to clear it, according to Walker. From musicians and writers to producers and anyone with rights to the song, all the individuals involved must give clearance. Considering the multiple songs involved with the UW video, it is a challenge that is not worth the time and resources pursuing.
Posting the video would be a breach of Canadian law. The University’s Administration, which had given the Lipdub team $10,000 to help produce the video, has a direct stake in the consequences of the video being released and could easily be held liable in any legal action, which could cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a risk that they simply cannot take. However, Walker still believes that those involved in creating the video have done the best they can.“They’re good students,” Walker said. “I have to give them a lot of credit, they attempted to do something totally in good faith.”Although it is a shame that Waterloo’s Lipdub will not be released, the efforts of the students involved should still be recognized. Their intentions were genuine, and it is unfortunate that the video will not make it to YouTube.
The Lipdub organizers were unavailable for comment. However, on March 29, Lipdub and Bud Walker released a? joint statement on Lipdub’s Facebook, which stated they regret that the video cannot be made public in its current form.“We have seen the comments in Waterloo’s social networks and can understand how frustrating this is for some of you… However, we need to respect those who hold the rights to the music used in the video. We believe the students involved in the video deserve to see the final product and are working together to determine a way to do this,” the statement said.— With files from Brent Golem and Robert Savoy.