Promotional picture of Pretty Girls Make Graves for Élan Vital. Taken by Dan Monick.
The popular video website YouTube is hosting a "Make Our Video" contest for the Seattle indie rock band Pretty Girls Make Graves in order to promote the band's upcoming album Élan Vital. Entrants are directed to download the album's first track, The Nocturnal House, and create a music video based on it. While the grand prize winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City and $1000, the terms of the contest might be a bit hard to swallow:

Winners (or the parent/guardian if the Winner is a minor) will be required to sign a contract assigning all worldwide copyrights and unrestricted exploitation rights in perpetuity in their treatments and films to Matador, and in return will receive a production budget of $1000 and appropriate credit whenever the film is projected or otherwise displayed as full and complete consideration for all rights granted and any and all exploitations (if at all) of the film by Matador or its designees, it being understood that Matador will not be obligated to use the film in any manner. All entries and requests become the property of Matador.

While the chance to win $1000 and go to NYC in order to see Pretty Girls Make Graves is pretty enticing, the loss of control over any content I would have made for the contest is too much. Matador could have made the losing entries revert back to their original owners or even have released them under a Creative Commons license.

If I wanted to make my own music video for "The Nocturnal House" without entering it in the contest and show it publicly (but non-commercially), Matador's licensing policies would make it prohibitive to do so:

A worldwide festival license generally costs $500 for the master use, with a term of one year; this amount may be negotiable based on the nature of your project. Student films which will only be shown on your campus may be available for $250, depending on the band involved and the length of use. Please describe any request for a discounted fee in the "financial proposal" section. Although fees are somewhat negotiable, they generally conform to the framework described above.

Even if I could afford the exorbitant licensing fees, the terms of Matador's license time limits my film. While the video itself would probably exist a year from now, my rights to show it would expire.

Of course, it gets even better.

Please note that as a record company we control the master recording rights only. In addition to obtaining a master use license from us, you are also required to obtain a synchronization license from the publisher of the song before using it in your project. Publisher information for a song can generally be found by doing a title search on or; however if you are having trouble finding the publisher of a song please get in touch with us.

While I was able to find a number of PGMG songs on BMI, no tracks from Élan Vital were listed.