Music rights when releasing tv shows on dvd

I spent years wondering when they were finally going to release Daria (an old MTV spinoff of Beavis and Butthead) on DVD. Well, the DVDs were finally released last year (I’m just now catching up with them via Amazon Prime), but they’re missing a *lot *of the original music on the show. For anyone who didn’t watch it regularly, this show sampled from TONS of popular music–at least 10 song clips per episode, for 5 seasons. There was always a different song playing during the credits, as well, which often reflected on the content of that episode. It’s still a good show, but the missing music is *very *noticeable. It added a lot of flair and occasionally even social commentary, even though the show itself has nothing to do with music at all.

I’m wondering, why was it OK to play the music while the show was airing on MTV (and later on “The N”), but not OK to play it on the DVDs?

Posting here because I think this falls under more of a legal category, but if a mod wants to put it in Cafe Society, that would be ok too. :slight_smile:

I’ve heard rumours that “The Chris Isaak Show” (one of the funniest shows on tv for a while) hasn’t been released on dvd because they played so much copyrighted music on the show.

Because the original music rights contracts provided for typical broadcast uses (original airings, reruns, syndication, possibly foreign runs), but did not account for possible video/DVD sales. This issue has affected the DVD release of dozens of shows, especially those like The Wonder Years and Quantum Leap that depended on period music to set the tone. The costs of securing DVD music rights for older shows is prohibitive, and makes some shows unreleasable without music substitutions. Joan of Arcadia was released with the opening credits (“What if God was One of Us”) played only once on each disc to reduce the costs for the song – payment was required for each individual use.

Current shows don’t have this problem, as music rights for the DVDs are negotiated at the time of purchase.

To Cafe from IMHO.

It’s often more trouble than it’s worth to find copyright holders of old songs, especially if the show isn’t expected to sell many copies.

Older copyrights can be a bitch to sort out. Songwriters die and their catalogs may change hands several times over the years, or no one owns the copyright because the last owner died or went out of business and didn’t transfer the catalog. Songs can be credited to a band rather than to an individual, and no one associated with the band bothered to keep track of who actually wrote the song. There may have been bad blood between partners that can result in one partner giving permission and the other refusing. There may have been lawsuits. The point is, there are a zillion reasons why it’s sometimes not worth it, even if it’s possible. And since rights negotiations are about royalties, it may be just too expensive to use the song.

WKRP in Cincinnati was another show, what with being set at a radio station, that was strongly affected by this sort of restriction.

And in a related situation, Peter Schickele’s Schickele Mix, a very entertaining, educational and insightful PBS radio show with 200 episodes recorded, is unreleasable to non-PBS markets for much the same reason.

Copyright laws are the kiss of death to archivists.

Malcolm in the Middle is another classic example of this.

The Muppet Show is another one. The fact that they’ve managed to release three seasons’ worth is almost miraculous; but even those three have cuts due to music where they couldn’t get the rights (or, perhaps, couldn’t get them at a sane price).

And Northern Exposure is another example. They had a LOT of songs on that show.

Right along the OP’s lines, I think one of the most damaged shows for this reason was Beavis and Butthead itself. I mean, the clips where they were watching the music videos and making comments about them… that was more than half the show, right there! That was the real reason anybody watched, in my opinion.

That’s also why I haven’t got the DVD collections; there’s no point, when all you get is the cartoons. Which were, ok, pretty funny in themselves… but that’s NOT the show I remember so fondly.

Married With Children is another example. They released the first 2 seasons on DVD with the original “Love and Marriage” sang by Frank Sinatra, but whoever owned the copyright wanted more money for the rest of the seasons so they just replaced with an instrumental song that sounds somewhat like the original.

MTV shows were a little special when they aired. MTV used to have the rights to freely use any of the music that was on their channel in other MTV productions, so Beavis and Butthead didn’t have to worry about permission royalties when it first aired. If Daria was from the same era, I bet they had the same deal when it originally aired. So, in case you’re wondering how they were ever able to use so much music to begin with, that’s why.

All good points, thanks for the info!

I think it’s really silly, because there is a huge black market for bootlegs due to these restrictions. I mean, I’d have happily paid for a box set of Daria DVDs back in college (a time when I was disinclined to pay for ANY media–I liked the show *that *much). But if I wanted to see the original show during the decade between going off the air and the time the DVDs came out, my only option was to bootleg it. “The N” censored the shows to make them tween-appropriate, so that wasn’t an option either.

And now they’ve been released *years *too late, they’re musically neutered, and my desire to purchase them any longer is zero. Nobody wins in that situation. The consumer either has to do without completely or bootleg (which entails breaking the law, feeling guilty, and making do with an inferior product); the tv producers don’t make any money; the music rights-holders’ songs aren’t listened to.

blagh, I say

Its becoming more common now to secure the air and DVD rights at the time of the original contract.