Purple Haze Jimi Hendrix movie can’t use his music

Movie About Jimi Hendrix… Won’t Use Any Jimi Hendrix Music Due To Licensing Issues

By Stephen Pate and Mike Masnick, Techdirt –  Ah, the insanity of music licensing.

There’s apparently a biopic of Jimi Hendrix being made, starring Andre Benjamin (better known as Andre 3000 from Outkast) in the leading role. 

Of course, with a Hendrix biography, you’d think that the real star would be the music — but in this case, there won’t be any original Jimi Hendrix music in the entire movie, because Hendrix’s estate has said that it won’t license songs unless it has some sort of say in the production.

The producers don’t want that, so they didn’t even ask to license the music.

The film, instead, will make do with new versions of cover songs that Hendrix did along the way.

This is, in many ways, ridiculous.  Part of the point of recording and retelling our cultural heritage is the use of the actual music that made it happen.

Even the Hendrix estate finds the moviemakers’ position confusing (though, it doesn’t indicate if it would license the songs without creative say in the flick).

Part of the problem is the ridiculous setup of music licensing today.  You can do a cover song with compulsory licenses (i.e., without permission), but that’s only for audio.

Doing video gets you into sync licenses and other issues that require permission.  And this is what you get in a society that locks up culture: a movie about Jimi Hendrix that features exactly none of his original music.

Tell me about it Blue Christmas

Mike Masnick makes a perfect point that I had to learn the hard way. Two years ago, we recorded Blue Christmas as a fund-raiser for the Schizophrenia Society. We also recorded the video at a Christmas party.

The song was licensed from Universal Music through CD Baby/Limelight without a problem, but we never got permission to release the video from UMG. We even renewed our license when more people listened to and downloaded the song that expected.

It took months to find the person who would grant permission. We wrote dozens of people. One publisher’s agent wished us the best of luck.

Even talking to the exact person at Universal who could release the song was to no avail. She didn’t want to talk to us unless we had mucho dollars, which was obviously not the point of a fund raiser.

Lesson learned – you can cover other people’s songs legally but don’t try to make a video unless you live outside the law.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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