Some Internet pundits argue that the DVD of TV shows should be allowed to have the music that were in the original broadcast, rightholders and existing contracts be damned. That’s just a bunch of unfounded entitlement. Just because you want something does not give you the right to it. Chosing to control the rights you own, setting your own high price for the right to use your music, that’s not a crime.
It is, however, often a shame. I just Netflixed disc 5 of season 3 of 21 Jump Street, the cops-going-undercover-as-teens series. No, I’m not zooming though this series. It had some good stuff, it had some other stuff, but having seen most of it when it first aired I don’t really need to review. I just wanted to watch the best episode, the high point, the one I recommended to others to try to see if they might like the show. “High High” is one which fans might refer to as Jump Street meets Fame, as the gang (still including Johnny Depp at this point) go undercover at a performing arts high school. It all builds with good rhythms to this slow-mo basketball scene set to the Rolling Stones’ “Monkey Man”, really the central moment not of plot, but of theme.
Except on the DVD. Stripped of the right music, of the music that it was edited around, of music with an impact, the scene seems pointless and limp, basketball played to a generic tune. No emotion there.
I don’t hope that changing the law is the answer, but it would be nice if the industry developed some standard, accepted guidelines for payment, one that makes using the appropriate music profitable for all involved.
(I do wonder if the broadcast version of this episode as played in syndicated reruns still has the music in place. I’m also wondering whether online streaming of shows is covered as a “broadcast” in the old contracts, in contrast to downloadable versions that would clearly be the sale of a recording and thus not covered under the original recording deal.)