Here’s a case that vidders might want to keep an eye on. Vimeo is being sued by a number of record companies–EMI, Capitol, Virgin–over audio tracks, which “are too often unlicensed copies of full songs.” You can read more about the case at arstechnica.com: Vimeo sued; have staffers uploaded infringing content? While the suit seems to want to leave some space for transformative works–as the article notes, EMI is “careful to say that it is ‘not seeking to stifle creativity or preclude members of the public from creating original, lawful audiovisual works,'” it also wants to stop usage of “the entire musical work deliberately and carefully synchronized into the video.”
Obviously we at the OTW disagree with the implication that the use of music “in careful synchronization” is automatically infringing. Music can be an interpretive tool, and vids are a form of speech: they show, they demonstrate, they make arguments. In a vid, music is not a “soundtrack”; it is an essential part of the argument and creates a new–intricate, and richly meaningful–whole.