I'm thinking of making videos, not exactly wedding videos but something similar (imagine videos of birthday parties, births, etc).
I need songs for them, but don't know what is the law re copyrighted music. I've seen wedding videos on youtube with famous songs - can they do that? (I don't think they're paying directly to the owner of the rights, like a TV or movie producer would do).
Is there a blanket license I can buy for that? Can I use the songs anyway? What happens if I do that? Can I be fined/arrested/something else?
Please, let me know how you deal with this.
I know there are copyright-free songs available, I have used them before, but they don't work as well. I really need well know music.
You're not meant to use any music that is within copyright for any purpose without hainung permission, using it for monetary gain is likely to see you found out and fined/arrested more quickly. You should seek permission from the artist or producer for each piece and really for each time you want to use it anew. It's likely to cost you a very pretty penny if you want to use current, popular artists.
I'm a freelance film editor and the truth is, as Mogz says, you shouldn't be using copyrighted music on anything, unless you're willing to pay. Which will be huge fees/a massive hassle and overkill for what it sounds like you want to make.
A lot of what you see on YouTube - I'm guessing things like that famous one where the massive American bridal party started grooving down the aisle - isn't commercially shot, it's someone's camcorder or phone and the music is in the background. Which is a legally grey area.
The copyright covers the act of electronically copying the music, ie the minute you digitise a track into your edit suite or equipment, you are liable to pay.
There is no way your clients will pay the fees for current pop songs - it's thousands per use, which would make the cost of your videos unattainable (from what you've described). Jonny has given you some good advice about where to get cheap or free music. Doing this illegally risks very high fines.
I had a cousin who used to make wedding videos and IIRC he used to pay an annual fee to some copyright body or other to cover use of music -- I don't remember the details and he's dead now so I can't ask.