Direct the New Modest Mouse Video

Rather than paying for an editor, Modest Mouse‘ label Epic is tapping the power of a horde of internerd hipstards through a contest sponsored by Apple. Download the provided footage of Modest Mouse rockin’ out against a green screen backdrop, make movie magic, and upload it to Apple by May 22. The winning clip will be the official advertisement music video for Modest Mouse new single “Missed the Boat.”

Modest Mouse at Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR

I’ve been looking at some of these user-generated content contests with a more critical eye of late. The attention economy is all well and good, but Epic and Apple are into the economy economy — you know, the one with cash money exchanged for goods and services.

Who owns the rights to your finished piece? Epic presumably owns the original source footage, and you own any additional content created and then composited in. So does that mean that you’re entitled to a cut every time someone downloads the video from the iTunes Music Store? What about sales of Modest Mouse retrospective DVDs that might include the video?

I’d say read the fine print, but in this case, there is none — I couldn’t find official contest rules beyond what was on the site, and the link on the page to Apple’s “Terms of Service” link is broken. I did, however, find the official rules for a similar contest sponsored by MTV for Modest Mouse’ single “We’ve Got Everything.” (Did every director they called refuse to work with them or something?)

There was the boilerplate about how all the content in submitted clips had to be the work of the entrant, none of the work could have been used commercially in the past, and any subjects appearing in said work had to have signed releases, etc. But what struck me was the submitted videos were “work for hire,” with all rights held by Sony BMG.

At least in the MTV contest, the work for hire pays — the winner won’t receive any royalty checks, of course, but he or she will get a Sony HDR-HC5 camera (which retails for $999 at B&H). So, exciting foray into mashup culture and media democratization, or way to get both advertising and publicity for free?

I’m leaning towards the latter.

Photo of Modest Mouse recent performance Portland’s Crystal Ballroom by Jesse Millan.