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Taking Care of Business
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 09:20 AM   #1
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so, who owns what?

Here's the situation: I was hired by a National organization to produce a video on what the organization is all about, how it started, and benefits to its members. I had creative control, I came up with the name of the show, wrote the script (based on info they gave me) was the on-camera talent, shot, edited, the whole 9 yards.

Now that it's 99.9% complete they are thinking they want to turn it into a series of programs, using the same name but focusing on different issues for their members. They've raised the question of who owns the name and concept. The show is a news format so the concept is pretty open, but what about the Title? do they own it or do I? If I do, do I need to license it to them? that could be included in any future production agreements, but what if new leadership there decides they want a different Production company to take it over?

Or am I just thinking too much? (which has been known to happen)

and yes I will be speaking with an attorney, just want to get some thoughts from my video brethren.
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 09:42 AM   #2
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Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
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What does your contract say?
Was it work for hire or were you hired to produce?
Even attorneys disagree on the above depending on the details (and the client they represent), hence the court system otherwise an arbitrated/negotiated resolution.

If you didn't spell this out in a contract you likely took the "more expensive" route.
Even if your lawyers says your the producer and it's not a work for hire, their lawyer may say otherwise.

IANAL but if you're going to be neck deep in creating this has to be spelled out from the get go. Knowing that comes with being a business person though, not a lawyer.

Of course maybe you and the client can work all this out amicably which would be best but that should be a written agreement.
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Old June 3rd, 2009, 05:15 PM   #3
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Remember you can't copyright an idea, ie, a concept, so nobody "owns" that. If you want to use the same ideas Ken Burns used in making "The Civil War" series, knock your socks off. Titles are usually covered by trademark law, not copyright, so the exact title might be a trademark but if it hasn't been registered or in use for some period of time so a casual observer would associate it with the organization,it's pretty much up for grabs. On its face, it appears that neither of you owns anything other than the program that has already been produced.
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Old June 4th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #4
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A couple of points:

1. There is a unique animal called a business method patent that could, under some circumstances, cover a project like this.

2. Titles are not protectable in copyright.

Without knowing an awful lot more about what the OP is doing, it's impossible to provide an informed opinion.
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 05:21 PM   #5
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I'm resurrecting this thread since I want to use a title for a short video at the UWOL challenge on this site. The title in question has been trademarked a few times in the past, but is now 'Dead', and 'Abandoned' per the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
United States Patent and Trademark Office

I guess I'm in the clear...
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