Another copyright question

So, I'm making a movie that is intended to be a tribute to a very famous musical artist. I would love it if I could cover one of their songs, but there's no chance in hell I could possible acquire rights. Earlier today, it occurred to me that perhaps the way around this is to have two of my characters silently lip-sync one of their famous songs. Most people would probably never figure out what song they're lip-syncing, but I think my target audience would.

I feel like this would fall under fair use, as it's being transformed to something else, and the audience would never hear any of the music. I feel like I could just make a bad-lip-reading in order to legally say that they're actually lip-syncing a different song, haha.

I need to consult an attorney, yes of course. No need for disclaimers here. I just wanted to quickly seek some other people's opinions. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

indietalk

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Even if so your film would suffer. It's like saying, we can't get real looking guns so we'll just use these Nerf toys.

You want the real song so bad you're willing to compromise story (and make it silly).
 

indietalk

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A musical as a tribute to a famous artist (let's use Prince as an example). I don't know how you pull that off w/o any Prince songs. I don't understand the silent lip syncing. Unless someone had headphones on but then still you'd still want to hear the song bleed through or the person sing a little.

You can always write is as a spec script, and don't hold back. Make sure the artist's in question's rights are actually available.
 
If an artist's song is involved in a film, they are entitled to rights.
But their song isn't in the film.

IT, I know it sounds weird, but I've got a vision and the way I see the scene in my head I actually think it's going to be really cool. And yes, it's a huge challenge to do a tribute to an artist without using their music, but I've got a way of doing that that I think will work. I mean, who ever said art was safe? :)
 

indietalk

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That's good. Then I guess you'd like an answer to your actual question lol.

Legally I have no idea.
 
But their song isn't in the film.

IT, I know it sounds weird, but I've got a vision and the way I see the scene in my head I actually think it's going to be really cool. And yes, it's a huge challenge to do a tribute to an artist without using their music, but I've got a way of doing that that I think will work. I mean, who ever said art was safe? :)
As I've been thinking about this idea for years, I agree :) Done properly, it could be as iconic as the Wayne's World Bohemian Rhapsody scene, but completely silent :)

What song are you planning to (not) use for that scene?
 
That's good. Then I guess you'd like an answer to your actual question lol.

Legally I have no idea.
:lol: I appreciate your honesty. We talk about talking to lawyers all the time on here, and I think this is one instance when it is especially true. I think I'd be okay, but I also think there's some grey area.

As I've been thinking about this idea for years, I agree :) Done properly, it could be as iconic as the Wayne's World Bohemian Rhapsody scene, but completely silent :)

What song are you planning to (not) use for that scene?
I'll PM you the answer to your question because I don't want anyone to know until they see the movie. One of the more important aspects of this idea is that I want the audience to have an "a-ha" moment, and then after that "a-ha" moment they will be able to "hear" the song in their head.

Yes, I think it's going to be a very fun scene, and I plan to do the entire song. The reason they're silent is because they're listening to it on their headphones in a library. They're gonna be dancing, pointing at each other, just having a fun time.

I got some good news today when I tested out the concept on a couple of people (by performing it myself). It took them all of ten seconds to know which song it was. It's a very recognizable tune, with unique rhythm patterns, and a fun back-and-forth between the lead and the backup vocals. The backup vocals are so prominent that it's practically a duet.
 
Interesting idea, are they just mouthing the words while emiting no actual sounds? I think you really should check with an entertainment attorney on that but from where I am sitting it might could fly, but then again, I am NOT an attorney.
 
Interesting idea, are they just mouthing the words while emiting no actual sounds? I think you really should check with an entertainment attorney on that but from where I am sitting it might could fly, but then again, I am NOT an attorney.
For sure, there's enough grey area that I definitely need legal advice. But yes, they'll only be mouthing the lyrics with no actual sounds. And the scene would take place in a library, hence the silence. But lots of dance and movement so that the audience can "hear" the song in their head.
 
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