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Old November 20th, 2009, 11:51 AM   #1
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can a client tamper with the edit without director's/producer's consent?

Hi, I have a lagal/ethical question.

Here's the scenario: I made a music video for a friend, I did the concept, shoot, edit, master. Handed it to him. He was very happy at that time.

He's then gone and omitted the title slide with my name and logo on it and also removed the scrolling end credits and put in his own text without my consent or approval and uploaded that version to his youtube and facebook page. Its even uploaded in the wrong aspect ratio! I'm furious!

What my question is that can a client even do that? True, its HIS video and he can do whatever he wants with it. But does he also have ownership of the edit????

There were no contracts or written agreements signed so I can't take him to court or anything, but I don't want to look like a fool when I tell him that he cannot change the edit when ethically and legally he can.

Any insights to this issue?
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Old November 20th, 2009, 03:11 PM   #2
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US laws regarding 'work for hire' will probably differ from those in Pakistan. You will need to ask someone specifically versed on Copyright Law in Pakistan. (And while people here might offer their opinions, NO ONE is going to give you legal advice.)
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Old November 20th, 2009, 04:10 PM   #3
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copyright laws vary, ethics do too... it appears to be enethical offhand, but at least he was nice enough to remove your info before uploading it in a botched way... so it's not coming back on you for bad work...

I would suggest the place to ask the question might be YouTube and Facebook, both of which are probably better versed in international copyright issues than anyone here, and I can only suspect they might assist in removing the "offending" video, since it sounds like you aren't on communicating terms with the "friend"?? If you are, a pleasant phone call and short conversation would probably be in order to see if you can resolve it, if you want it posted in it's original form, etc.

I'm going from the tone that you feel he is representing your work as his own, at least as far as the edited video, and I *suspect* since it's hosted on YouTube servers in the US, it would be a violation of international copyright law... but I could be completely wrong...
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Old November 20th, 2009, 06:02 PM   #4
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Under US and Canadian law, you still own the copyright and when he publishes it without your permission, whether he claims it as his own or not, he is infringing. The fact he paid you to do the shoot does not automatically make him the copyright owner unless you had a written agreement with him that spells out that the video was made as a "work for hire." Without the written contract, it is not a work for hire and copyright remains with the actual creator of the work. While most (though certainly not all)countries are signatories to the Berne Convention and their copyright laws follow similar general principles, as they say the Devil lies in the details so your only answer at this point is to consult with an attorney who is versed in the details of Pakistani intellectual property law. While I would say your client's behaviour is outrageously unethical, that doesn't mean the law in Pakistan would agree with me.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 09:38 PM   #5
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Steve, I disagree.

First of all, it sounds like a work for hire. If it is, and unless there was a specific requirement to include the Producer's name, logo, etc., he can do what he wants.
Also, because it's an Audio-Visual work, the rights are different than some other works, so I don't think the copyright is retained.

This is all based on American law, and my knoweldge and understanding of it given that I am not a lawyer.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 12:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
First of all, it sounds like a work for hire.
Work for Hire is ONLY Work for Hire if it is STIPULATED that it is Work for Hire.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 04:09 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the comments guys. Actually the whole scenario is that I did this music video for a friend who is working with the offender and starring in the video as well. My friend had come to me not asking for a formal budget for a video but saying that he could only afford a certain amount and what could I do with that. Like an idiot I pulled in favours left, right and center. Got the backup dancers for free, a friend to choreograph, another friend to do hair and makeup, a friend's house as the set. I shot and edited the video myself, I was doing all the lighting myself - all this to get a good product out. All the money my friend had went into equipment rentals and nothing was paid to anyone, not even myself. There was no contract, no agreement, no written letters or anything of the sort. I find it offensive that he took out all the end credits that thanked all the people who worked in the video for free and put in his own facebook page address and youtube address. He is not passing off the video as his own work, he just thought the end credits didn't look good or didn't have mention of his own details so he took the entire thing off! This is offensive to me and to everyone that's worked on the video! He maintains that he's added everyone's name in text in the description of the video on youtube, but that's not the same as being in the body of the video itself! If only he had discussed it with me I could have modified the end credits in any which way he wanted. And yes, he DID see a sample before so he could have said something then, but no.

I don't know what the laws are. A lawyer would probably say that since there's no written contract there's no case. I just wanted to know whether I should kick myself for not getting into a written agreement with a friend or whether I can really go down hard on this offender. Things are getting ugly and if I ever see him again I'll...

...well, that's another story altogether.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 05:23 AM   #8
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So you helped out a friend with a free production and now you are upset because your end credits are not in the Youtube video. We wouldn't have seen your credits if it had been played on MTV anyway. Ali, you need to get over the big head and get on with your life. Come on it was a freebie! Use this as a learning experience and move on.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 09:01 AM   #9
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Have you tried simply talking to the guy? Tell him what you told us - that you did all this work for nothing and all you want is proper credit.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 11:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
Ali, you need to get over the big head and get on with your life. Come on it was a freebie!
David, I COULD NOT DISAGREE MORE and actually find this response to be inflammatory. This SHOULD have been considered "contra" work and Ali got NOTHING in return for his contribution to making this a success.

Does this happen EVERY DAY? Yes. Should it? NO!
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Old November 21st, 2009, 11:43 AM   #11
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That's the rub! It does happen everyday, but usually only once to each person who suffers it!

My story was similar - worthy cause who wished to sell a few DVDs to generate some money for a good cause. My ex-business partner thought they were 'nice people' so didn't bother to do the usual contract - he felt that as a good cause, there really wasn't a need. Until - it was being shown on one of the high number satellite channels over and over again, with our business name removed, and a new name inserted as editor - which was probably the person who top and tailed our video!

There's little point pursuing legal remedies, UNLESS they are making big sums from it which would have been yours. If the only thing you're cross about is the lack of credit, then the cost of legal action makes this unviable.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 01:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
Steve, I disagree.

First of all, it sounds like a work for hire. If it is, and unless there was a specific requirement to include the Producer's name, logo, etc., he can do what he wants.
Also, because it's an Audio-Visual work, the rights are different than some other works, so I don't think the copyright is retained.

This is all based on American law, and my knoweldge and understanding of it given that I am not a lawyer.
I am not a lawyer either but it has been discussed here and in other forums a number of times and my understanding is this ... While it may not be relevant to our OP in Pakistan, under the law in the US and Canada the only time (with a few exceptions defined in the law that don't apply here) a work such as a video program is a work-for-hire is when either the shooter is an actual employee acting within the scope of his regular job duties (a staff camera-man at a TV station, for example) or when there is a written contractual agreement that explicitly states the work being produced is made as a work for hire. The agreement between the producer and his client must be in writing and it must state that the program being created is produced as a work for hire, and assign copyright to the client. If there's no explicit writing making it a work for hire, the program is not one and copyright remains with the producer. What the client gets for paying the producer's fee is a license to use the material - anything further rights requires a writing that says so.

As for weird exceptions, I was surprised to learn a while back that here in Canada, our copyright law lists as an exception portraits shot by a professional studio photographer, explicitly assigning their copyright to the party contracting to have the picture made. Most of my knowledge of copyright law was acquired in the US prior to my moving North, and under US law it belongs to the photographer absent written agreement to assign them to the client.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 07:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
I am not a lawyer either but it has been discussed here and in other forums a number of times and my understanding is this ... While it may not be relevant to our OP in Pakistan, under the law in the US and Canada the only time (with a few exceptions defined in the law that don't apply here) a work such as a video program is a work-for-hire is when either the shooter is an actual employee acting within the scope of his regular job duties (a staff camera-man at a TV station, for example) or when there is a written contractual agreement that explicitly states the work being produced is made as a work for hire. The agreement between the producer and his client must be in writing and it must state that the program being created is produced as a work for hire, and assign copyright to the client. If there's no explicit writing making it a work for hire, the program is not one and copyright remains with the producer. What the client gets for paying the producer's fee is a license to use the material - anything further rights requires a writing that says so.

As for weird exceptions, I was surprised to learn a while back that here in Canada, our copyright law lists as an exception portraits shot by a professional studio photographer, explicitly assigning their copyright to the party contracting to have the picture made. Most of my knowledge of copyright law was acquired in the US prior to my moving North, and under US law it belongs to the photographer absent written agreement to assign them to the client.
Also add in the concept of "Moral Rights" which is based on the British system of law. As Pakistan in a former colony it probably has a similar legal structure.

Also I don't think that "exception" is as clear cut as it may seem. I'd have to go look at my notes from the Canadian Entertainment law class I took last fall. I believe the photograph can become the property of the client but the negative (unless deemed a work for hire) remains the copyright of the photographer. Also with moral rights, even with a work for hire, the client would not be able to alter or destroy the photograph without the photographers permission.

Like I said I'd have to recheck my notes regarding that exception you mentioned.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 11:56 PM   #14
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Hello all,

I am not a lawyer and would caution that in matters regarding copyright issues a lawyer specializing in intellectual property should be consulted. But, a friend of mine just went through some copyright issues and I was very surprised to find that, at least in the U.S., the use of "Works Made For Hire" is greatly misunderstood, even from lawyers not specializing in IP.

According to Section 101 of the Copyright Laws of the United States, a work made for hire must be a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or it must meet two other conditions. The first is that it must fall into 1 of 9 specific categories of works listed, and second there must be a written agreement specifying that it was a work made for hire. Most people think that just because they say in a written contract that something is a work made for hire that is will be binding. My friend found out that that is not true. If the work also does not fall into one of the nine categories, the clause in the contract is not valid and in order to transfer copyright, it must be done as prescribed under Section 2 of the Copyright Laws. It was a a somewhat expensive lesson to be learned but one I'm very glad I found out about without having to be the one paying for it.

If there are IP lawyers out there on the board I'd be interested to hear their thoughts and again, there's nothing like reading the actual letter of the law to totally confuse yourself and blast open your eyes at the same time.

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Old November 22nd, 2009, 02:26 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Denny Lajeunesse View Post
... I believe the photograph can become the property of the client but the negative (unless deemed a work for hire) remains the copyright of the photographer. Also with moral rights, even with a work for hire, the client would not be able to alter or destroy the photograph without the photographers permission.....
Copyright, the right to make and distribute copies of the intellectual property, is separate and distinct from the ownership of the physical object containing the intellectual property, such as a photographic negative or a cassette of video tape. When you buy a CD in a store you own the physical object of the disk but you don't own any of the rights to the music on the CD, other than a license to listen to it. So the photographer cannot publish the portrait he made in a magazine or sell copies in an art gallery without the client's permission but he does retain ownership of the physical object of the negative he exposed in the camera and with which he made the print.
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