Who owns the audio ? - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 23rd, 2009, 04:13 PM   #16
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
If I'm hired by a company as a freelance cameraman, I do not expect to hold any copyright in the material I shoot. The industry uses a lot of freelance people and it isn't practical for everyone to hold copyright on material they shoot for other people. Although, if they are break the terms of such an agreement (ie I wasn't hired as such) I could use copyright as a means to apply pressure to obtain payment if required - although this seems to apply to the camera operator, not the DP if they aren't operating. This is different to stills photography, but the nature of how material is used is very different in that medium, a photograph is a stand alone "work", not a part of a larger whole which is the "work".

It's pretty common for you not to sign a contract on every job, usually it tends to be on dramas that you sign a contract. If you freelance for a major broadcaster such as the BBC in even accepting the work you need to agree that they hold any copyright. This used to informal, now it's a more formal arrangement.

This is different to you making a film or a company producing the film or video or shooting material for yourself.

But if a company or a producer hires a freelance sound recordist for a production they wouldn't expect the recordist to hold the copyright to the material and in paying them to perform that role they expect to be buying out any such rights. That's different to the recordist recording material as part of their own business, eg for their sound effects library and then production company paying for use of that material.

In practise, even directors hold very few rights. Although, this is written into their contract or letter of engagement because their creative relationship to the production is much more complex and can involve scripting etc..

Copyright is a complex matter and you should check with a lawyer if you have a particular issue.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 23rd, 2009, 04:24 PM   #17
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Freelancers and independent contractors are generally not employees of their clients and the simple fact that they are being paid does not in itself make them so. As I understand it, unless you're a regular full, part-time, or temporary employee acting within the normal scope of your employment duties or otherwise fall into one of the categories defined as work-for-hire in the copyright statues, for your work to be considered to have been created as a 'work-for-hire' you must have a written agreement and your contract must explicitly state that the resulting work will be created for the client as a 'work-for-hire' using those specific words. Absent that exact wording, the creator of the work owns the copyright. But in the case of a sound person, such as the question posed by the OP, the "creator of the work" would probably NOT be the sound recordist most of the time. The producer and director are directing his work, telling him what to record and how to record it and directing the performance of the talent. That makes them the creators and the recordist is serving as a technician acting under their direction. He does not have any direct creative control. It's much the same as a cameraman - the DP is the creator of the shot, not the camera operator or focus puller. So it's not an issue with below-the-line crew because they do not exercise direct creative control. And the above-the-line creatives such as the director or the composer of the score typically have contracts that make their work a work-for-hire so the production company owns the copyright to it.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 23rd, 2009, 04:59 PM   #18
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
He does not have any direct creative control. It's much the same as a cameraman - the DP is the creator of the shot, not the camera operator or focus puller. So it's not an issue with below-the-line crew because they do not exercise direct creative control.
Rather interestingly it seems that the operator holds copyright not the DP because the copyright is in the framing rather than the lighting. The DP being the creator of the shot framing would depend on the on set working relationships and some DPs can be pretty hands off.

In practise, a freelance DP won't be making copyright claims unless something goes wrong. I suspect the actual laws may vary in detail from country to country, although there is now a tendency to have a written contract or one of those by accepting this work you will be working under our terms of employment agreements, even if you haven't signed anything.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 23rd, 2009, 10:04 PM   #19
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
Who is an employee

This was referenced on anther thread some time back - worth reading the IRS's idea of who is or is not an employee in the film and video business.

http://www.mca-i.org/en/art/?9
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 24th, 2009, 07:19 AM   #20
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
This was referenced on anther thread some time back - worth reading the IRS's idea of who is or is not an employee in the film and video business.

IRS Guidelines - Film & Video Industry Contractors - 1-Feb-03: Media Communications article: contact Todd O'Neill
There can be variations between countries.

In the UK it can depend on the number of clients you have. For example in the UK, you may be freelance DP (or in the TV broadcaster's terms a camera person - a DP being someone who is head of dept. on dramas rather than a TV programme), but you only work for one or two clients, you could be PAYE (pay as you earn) as against the self employed Schedule D.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 24th, 2009, 05:49 PM   #21
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
There can be variations between countries.

In the UK it can depend on the number of clients you have. For example in the UK, you may be freelance DP (or in the TV broadcaster's terms a camera person - a DP being someone who is head of dept. on dramas rather than a TV programme), but you only work for one or two clients, you could be PAYE (pay as you earn) as against the self employed Schedule D.
Excellent point! While copyright law itself is reasonably consistent from country to country due to the Berne Convention, the definition of "employee" can vary extensively between jurisdictions and tax authorities. And even copyright itself can vary - for example, I was recently surprised to learn that here in Canada a portrait or wedding still photographer who is hired by someone to shoot a portrait or cover their wedding does NOT own the copyright to the resulting pictures but by law copyright belongs to the client. When I learned about copyright law in the States a number of years ago, the photographer would own the copyright as the creator of the photographs and the fact he was hired and paid by his client to make them doesn't change that. And to make it even more interesting, Canadian law explicitly addresses photographs made by still photographers but is silent on video shot by videographers.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2009, 04:49 AM   #22
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Posts: 105
A couple of points:

-Work for hire must be a "prior written agreement". Meaning the work for hire contract must be signed before any work is performed.

-You hold copyright the moment the image or video is created BUT you have very little legal weight when a lawsuit is filed if the copyright is not registered with the Library of Congress Copyright Office. If you file a lawsuit and you have not registered the copyright the most you can win (generally) is the fair market value that you would have licensed the works for. In order to win statutory damages (where the real money comes from) and legal fees you must have registered the works. In fact, most IP attorneys will not take a case unless the works have been registered.

Duane
Duane Burleson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 25th, 2009, 05:52 AM   #23
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Burleson View Post
A couple of points:

-Work for hire must be a "prior written agreement". Meaning the work for hire contract must be signed before any work is performed.

-You hold copyright the moment the image or video is created BUT you have very little legal weight when a lawsuit is filed if the copyright is not registered with the Library of Congress Copyright Office. If you file a lawsuit and you have not registered the copyright the most you can win (generally) is the fair market value that you would have licensed the works for. In order to win statutory damages (where the real money comes from) and legal fees you must have registered the works. In fact, most IP attorneys will not take a case unless the works have been registered.

Duane
Again, this varies from country to country, best check the local legal situation and any procedures required. For example the UK has an Intellectual Properties Office, but it doesn't have a copyright office where you register. However, there are other organisations which will offer that as a service either to their members (eg Writers Guild or BECTU) or for a commercial fee for a set period.

http://www.ipo.gov.uk/c-basicfacts.pdf

Copyright - BECTU

Last edited by Brian Drysdale; March 25th, 2009 at 07:14 AM.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 10th, 2009, 07:32 PM   #24
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Los Angeles (recently from San Francisco)
Posts: 954
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sweet View Post
Just out of curiousity, if I'm recording the audio myself with my own gear, and for an independant producer, that probably isnt backed up by heaps of paperwork, are the files anybody's and 'royalty free' because I've not copyrighted them, or do I have any legal rights to these recordings since I've captured them?
If you are truly an independent contractor (and owning your own gear is only one indicia and not necessarily dispositive), absent a written agreement to the contrary, you own the rights in the audio (though not the underlying material). You do not have to register the copyright to accrue rights -- you have those as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium, i.e. recorded. However, I would not assume that you are an independent contractor -- there are a number of other questions that would have to be answered first. If you are not an independent contractor, your employer would own copyright in the recording.
Paul Tauger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2009, 06:29 AM   #25
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Boyer View Post
As a employee (Editor) of 2 nationally distributed magazines all work I am paid for (even if there is no written agreement) becomes the property of my employer. If I am sent ad art components and create an ad, once we are paid all parts of the ad art become the advertisers property. If you are not paid you retain all of the copyrights (even if it is not in writing)
IANAL Mark, while you may well be right in your specific case about your employer owning the copyright to your work, you aren't quite correct in your explanation of the reason behind it. It all hinges on whether you are an employee and the mere act of being paid for the work DOES NOT make you an employee. Freelancers and contractors usually are not employees. If you are paid a salary or wage, have taxes and SSI etc withheld, work specific hours as set by your employer, at a required location and with their tools and equipment, work under your employer's guidance, direction, and supervision, etc (a bunch more IRS guidelines) then you are an employee and copyright to your work belongs to your employer as a "work-for-hire." But a freelancer hired to create a peice of work who works under his own direction and initiative, with his own tools, on his own timeclock, etc is not an employee even though he is paid a professional fee upon delivery of the completed work. Your lawyer isn't your employee even though you're certainly paying him for his work, right? In the case of the freelancer/contractor, the work IS NOT a "work-for-hire" unless there is a written agreement that says it is, using the exact words "work-for-hire." And if it is not a work for hire, the copyright remains with the freelancer or contractor who created the work. Of course, he may transfer the copyright to his client and making that transfer might even be a requirement for his getting paid but once again, the transfer of copyright MUST be explicitly stated in writing for it to be effective.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #26
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
I would hope that Paul T might comment on this, but I think we're confusing the concepts of employment and "work for hire".

I believe they're different animals.

Example - when I joined IBM in the middle of the last century, software was not patentable. Hardware was. Engineers on joining the company were required to sign an exclusive assignment agreement stating that all patents they received were exclusively assigned to IBM.

Patents were (and are) issued in the name of the "inventor", but pursuant to the assignment agreement, all rights belong to IBM. I don't recall hearing the term "work for hire", but that's not to say it wan't used - it was after all the middle of the last century so I think I could be forgiven for forgetting.

By the way, my father was an engineer and held many of the basic patents on the mechanisms used for the self-unloading systems on the Great Lakes ore carriers - the rights to all of which were assigned to his employer, even though it was his name on the patents, copies of which I think I still have around here somewhere.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2009, 01:56 PM   #27
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: San Mateo, CA
Posts: 3,840
While Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks are all "Intellectual Properties" - there are differences in how they are handled, assigned and how long 'ownership' can last. So lets not confuse Patents or Trademark issues with Copyright ownership and transferrence.

Paul Tauger (An IP attorney we are fortunate enough to have joined in the disicussion upthread) has pointed out that

--------------

If you are truly an independent contractor (and owning your own gear is only one indicia and not necessarily dispositive), absent a written agreement to the contrary, you own the rights in the audio (though not the underlying material). You do not have to register the copyright to accrue rights -- you have those as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium, i.e. recorded. However, I would not assume that you are an independent contractor -- there are a number of other questions that would have to be answered first. If you are not an independent contractor, your employer would own copyright in the recording.
Richard Alvarez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2009, 04:20 PM   #28
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tucson AZ
Posts: 2,207
I agree that it would be nice if Paul could set us straight - but it was only an example. I still think employment and "work for hire" are different animals.

There may be intersections (hmm - intersecting animals - not sure this is a fit discussion for kids) but I for one would like to be clear on the basics.
Jim Andrada is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:12 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network