Grin and share it?

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - URBANJUNGLE - ⁄ by Malissa Rug­gieri

ca­pa­ble of tak­ing and be­cause their place­mat­size screens are more than a bit ob­tru­sive when po­si­tioned midair for op­ti­mal record­ing.

Still, what most con­cert­go­ers may not re­al­ize is that the two-minute video they posted of Steven Tyler rock­ing Dream On might be break­ing the law.

“In gen­eral, the per­son who owns the copy­right in the mu­si­cal com­po­si­tion em­bod­ied in the video has the ex­clu­sive right to pub­licly per­form it, re­pro­duce it and dis­trib­ute it,” said Mar­garet R. Mar­shall, share­holder and en­ter­tain­ment at­tor­ney at the At­lanta branch of Green­berg Trau­rig law firm.

Dif­fer­ent types of civil li­a­bil­i­ties ex­ist un­der the Copy­right Act, in­clud­ing ac­tual and statu­tory dam­ages and at­tor­neys’ fees.

And, said Mar­shall, “Un­der the Copy­right Act, it could be on a per in­fringe­ment ba­sis.”

Makes you think twice about all those Face­book posts, doesn’t it?

But Mar­shall pointed out that while those who record con­certs and slap them on a pub­lic so­cial me­dia site are likely in­fring­ing, at a min­i­mum, on the mu­si­cal com­po­si­tion copy­right, “Is the artist go­ing to go af­ter ev­ery­one? No, it’s prag­mat­i­cally im­pos­si­ble.” She also noted that while yes, artists’ pub­lic per­for­mances and/or dis­tri­bu­tion of their mu­si­cal com­po­si­tions would be copy­right in­fringe­ment, of­ten times le­gal is­sues may only arise when the work is dis­trib­uted com­mer­cially — un­less other cir­cum­stances are in­volved.

While some concert at­ten­dees who don’t record con­certs of­ten view the prac­tice as both self­ish and in­con­sid­er­ate, there are those who find no harm in record­ing a song or two — of­ten cit­ing a keep­sake as their rea­son.

“It’s no dif­fer­ent than tak­ing pho­tos,” said con­cert­goer An­gela Oliver. “If you were at any pub­lic event — a rel­a­tive’s grad­u­a­tion, a po­lit­i­cal rally, a sport­ing event — would you not want to cap­ture that ex­pe­ri­ence with a snap­shot? Some peo­ple can’t af­ford to reg­u­larly at­tend con­certs, so if some­one gave them a ticket or they won it and might not get a chance again (to go to a show), why not shoot a few sec­onds of video to pre­serve that mem­ory?”

But what about the artists? How do they feel when they look out from the stage and are greeted, not by peo­ple singing along to a hit song or in­ter­act­ing, but by the backs of thou­sands of smart­phone cam­era lenses?

“I find it very, very strange,” said Ed Robert­son, lead singer of Bare­naked Ladies.

“I think peo­ple are far more en­gaged with their gad­gets than the place they’re in and the ex­pe­ri­ence they could be hav­ing. I love the Foo Fight­ers and went to see them. Dave (Grohl) goes out on this long stage, and it’s just a sea of peo­ple hold­ing up phones and cam­eras. Why don’t you make eye contact and not worry about tweet­ing about it? I hope the nov­elty of this con­nec­tion and tech­nol­ogy will wear out and peo­ple will re­al­ize that the authen­tic ex­pe­ri­ence is so much more re­ward­ing.”

Fred Schneider of the B-52s is equally baf­fled by fans’ pri­or­i­ties and has found it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult over the years to main­tain their at­ten­tion.

“It’s ob­vi­ous that peo­ple don’t even care if you’re singing or lip-sync­ing up there,” he said. “I get so an­gry with that and think, ‘Why am I up here?’ We will take down any­thing we don’t like from YouTube. It’s a self­ish (prac­tice) by fans. It’s all about them. We’ll have peo­ple hold up iPads dur­ing the show, and I’ll stop the show and say, ‘Put that away and just get out.’”

Other artists, such as Richard Marx, a vet­eran singer-song­writer and tour­ing pres­ence for more than 20 years, said he com­pletely un­der­stands fans’ in­fat­u­a­tion with want­ing a dig­i­tal sou­venir.

“If I could have done that all of the years I was go­ing to con­certs, I would have,” he said.

In this ev­ery­thing-must-be-re­ported-within­sec­onds world, the record­ing and post­ing of concert footage some­times has an­other in­ad­ver­tent ef­fect: The el­e­ment of sur­prise when go­ing to a live show is all but de­stroyed.

Years ago, fans didn’t even have a clue what songs might be played at a concert un­less a friend at­tended an ear­lier date and re­ported back. But sites such as now pro­vide nightly set list up­dates for most ma­jor artists, while acts with the in­clu­sive jam-band men­tal­ity, such as the Dave Matthews Band, will keep a live run­ning set list on their web­sites dur­ing each show.

Of course, fans have the op­tion to ig­nore these sites, just as they can dis­re­gard any YouTube post­ings that ex­pose the plane burst­ing into flames near the start of Roger Wa­ters’ The Wall show.

Footage recorded at con­certs and posted on YouTube is sub­ject to a se­ries of copy­right rules and safe har­bours. The user up­load­ing the con­tent is re­spon­si­ble for as­sur­ing that he has the rights nec­es­sary to post the con­tent. How­ever, Mar­shall noted, “un­less a rights holder prop­erly ob­jects, YouTube has sys­tems in place to rec­og­nize pretty well this type of copy­righted ma­te­rial, and they’ve fig­ured out ways to mon­e­tize it. If they can’t fig­ure out a way to mon­e­tize, they may just block it.”

While there is some re­signed ac­cep­tance over spec­ta­tors record­ing video dur­ing con­certs, there are some artists who are tak­ing the tech­no­log­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion as a chal­lenge. “It’s just part of the show now,” said coun­try star Ja­son Aldean. “If I see some­one talk­ing on a cell­phone dur­ing a show, I’ll stop the show and ask who they’re talk­ing to and re­mind them, ‘Hey, there’s a concert go­ing on.’”

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