Sue Matsuki
Helpful Insights* regarding use of Image

*This information is presented as a personal insight, and not intended to be use as legal advise. Please consult a lawyer for specific legal questions regarding usage rights.

When you record yourself on stage with anyone else, the pianist, band, Emcee or if say you tape an entire group show or record an entire show, you must secure permission to use everyone else’s image and performance in what I’m going to call a Performer’s Agreement.  Here are some protocol issues:

  1. When producing a CD from a live recording one still has to pay for all the rights to record each song and/or use that tune based on the number of CDs actually burned.
  1. If all of these tunes were written (words/lyrics) by you and/or you and a partner and you own the rights, this is not an issue if the two of you have your own share deal in place. You don’t have to secure or pay for the right to use your own tune.
  1. If the above is in place, the singers performing on the CD need to know that they are not liable for any rights. You will see this covered in the language of the sample Agreement I will suggest below.
  1. Singers and the band members MUST be allowed to view the DVD and/or hear the CD BEFORE anyone else so that they can “sign off” on the right to use their image. This agreement will cover you legally if you have their permission to sell the CD for a purpose (donation to whatever) but then you must NOT sell it for any other purpose that is not explicitly described in the agreement that they have signed off on in the agreement.
  1. Singers want to know that they will NOT be posted on You-Tube or other On-Line sites so, you will have to guarantee that you, as the producer, will not do this. You have no control of anyone else doing this but you will need to put a sticker or a note on the cover of the CD saying something like: “Duplication of this CD/DVD is strictly prohibited by law and unauthorized posting of any of these artists to any On-Line websites without specific permission from the individual artist is subject to legal action.”  Again, this will cover you if anyone else does it without your or the artist’s permission.
  1. IF you DO want to post anyone on You-Tube or Facebook, you must do a separate agreement very specific to what you plan to do. “I will publish your rendition of “SONG” on Facebook or YouTube under (whatever account or way you will post it).” You will need to get them to sign off on this as well.
  2. Bottom line? It’s just good form not to post any pictures, videos or recordings of anyone without their permission.

A non-legally binding sample agreement is presented below. Please use this as a guide only, and be sure to consult a lawyer for any and all legal matters concerning Usage Rights.



Dear _______________

I (Artist’s Name) agree to allow you to use my image (DVD) and vocal recording (CD) from the show called _______________ recorded on (date) at _________________ for the sole purpose of sales of 1,000 copies (or whatever number you’re printing) ONLY to benefit __________________ (name of organization your a donating to). I understand the following:

  1. I am not responsible for any rights or payments thereof for use of any of this music and that this is the sole expense of the Producer.
  1. I am signing off ONLY on the right to use my image/voice for these 1,000 copies for the benefit of the charitable donation being made to: _______________
  1. My image will not be posted to any on-line sites by the Producers unless agreed to by way of a separate agreement between myself and the Producers.
  1. By signing below I agree that you may use my image/voice singing (name of song) for the purposes stated above.

Then have them sign this paper and/or agree to it on Email so that you have a record from everyone giving you these rights for your files.


PLEASE NOTE: I am not a lawyer. I cannot tell you that this is all that you need to do to cover yourself. The above is NOT legal advice…it’s an issue of protocol AND it’s a sample or suggestion only of what you may or may not want to do to cover yourself if you plan to produce a show that you wish to record or create a record of. A quick chat with an attorney friend may be in order. Show them this draft and let him revise accordingly. Talk to your lawyer about minimizing the necessary paperwork. A Lot of legal papers to sign might scare the “you know what” out of people. A friendly 1-page thing is the way to go but just make sure all the bases are covered for what you intend to use these products for.

I cannot impress how important it is to ASK the people that have done a favor for you their permission to use their work in any public way you intend to use it. In fact, ask BEFORE they do the show so that they have the option to say, “no”. The other thing is this…many times we show up to sing after a long day at work and, if it is a benefit or a memorial, emotions are higher than under normal “glam” circumstance where hair and make up are in place and the voice all warmed up so, if any artist is unhappy with their individual performance they have a right to NOT want it made public.

Please always and kindly respect this issue.