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Old January 27th, 2010, 09:12 AM   #1
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What are my rights as a "filmmaker"?

For the past 3 years I've been filming live bands as a hobby. I do it for free and I post all my footage online for free. I generally get permission from the bands, labels, and promoters before filming/sharing, but usually bands in this niche genre don't have a preference.

I recently ran into a problem with a band that I filmed. I was given permission by the promoter and filmed this band (along with other bands who played the same event). The band in question is demanding that I provide them with a copy of my footage.

My (most likely naive) question is: what are my rights as an independent, non-profit filmmaker? Legally/philosophically speaking, who can claim ownership of such video? Clearly, the band has a right to royalties should I ever sell their footage; but am I legally bound to provide them with something I captured?

Can anyone point me in the right direction of some literature about this issue? I've started to become very interested in the concept of media rights and ownership in the digital age. In some ways, I feel as though the video I take can be considered a piece of art (which belongs to me). Do these questions fall under the umbrella of "media studies"? Are there particular areas of discussion/study that deal with the philosophy of media?
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Old January 27th, 2010, 12:25 PM   #2
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You do own the copyright on your footage unless you have transferred it to someone else. And unless you were paid by the band to film them, you clearly own the footage you shot. But what you can subsequently do with it is something else. If you show it in public, for profit or not makes no difference, you should have a (preferrably written) release to use their images. You also need a license from the copyright owner of the music itself - the musical notes and the words - to use it in your video soundtrack and unless the band itself is the composer/publisher of the music so they hold the copyright on it they can't give you that license or permission.

Unless there was a contract that says you are to provide them with a copy of the footage AFAIK you would not be obligated to provide them with a copy. But that being said, what's it going to hurt if you do so? Watermark it and make sure there's a copyright notice on it so they can't use it for publicity or commercially without paying you for it and be magnanimous.

Surpisingly, they don't have an automatic right to royalties from sales of your video. That sort of thing depends on what contracts you have and what conditions they impose in exchange for giving you the release that lets you distribute it publically.

The most reliable source of information is a sit down with an intellectual property attorney.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 10:26 PM   #3
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This is a very interesting area as many times, doing something for free creates more issues and perceptions than being hired with a clear objective.

Steve has covered the issue very well. Basically, you have all of the rights as long as you only use the footage privately. Once you step into the marketplace with the product your territory runs out. But you still own the copyright.

I would not think you are bound to do anything outside of respect their copyrighted image and or material.
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