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Old May 31st, 2010, 08:23 AM   #1
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Please Watermark Your Work!

I've been in the broadcast TV industry for 25+ years and I continue to be amazed at how many people post their videos and still images on the web without any sort of copyright protection. Here's my plea from a professional in the business to other pros, amateurs and hobbyists. Please watermark your work!

When you post your still images or video online you are giving it away to the world without any compensation and if you don't provide a watermark or copyright info others won't be able to trace your work back to you. Being in the business I can tell you that if someone says "Give me this for free this time and I'll hire you next time" is a bold faced lie. Why should they pay you when you are already doing the work for free and posting it on the web? When you upload your video or stills without watermarking you are giving your work away and I promise it is highly unlikely that someone will then want to pay you when it's already free for them to use. I know of at least one production company that does work for Discovery & History Channel that will, without hesitation, grab video off the web to fill in missing video in their productions.

Have you ever read YouTube's Terms of Service, item 6C? Here it is;
"For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Website. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable."

Simply put this means that anyone, anywhere can do anything with your video that they want and you won't be compensated one penny while they make money off of your hard work. These terms of service are basically the same for Vimeo, Veoh, Metacafe, etc. and the for the still photography sites where you upload pictures. All of them make money from advertisers and from your work. Most of you will never see a dime of the profit they make off your intellectual property.

I'm also amused when someone says to me; "They can't download my work. My settings don't allow downloads." Not only is this funny it's completely untrue. Simple rule - if you can see it or play it from the web there is a way to download or capture the image or video. There are tons of programs, add-ons and utilities for capturing web video, screen grabs, etc. Also, most of the online video sites poach each others videos while stripping the info from them. This means that while your video may have contact info with it on YouTube it won't on Metacafe after it's poached and there is no way to then find you as the copyright owner.

So what can you do? The easiest thing when posting your video or picture is to superimpose your website, name or email within the 4:3 title safe area (center of the screen about 1/3 of the way from the bottom or top of the frame). Do not put your watermark at the corners or at the very top or bottom of the frame. All you have to do to defeat this is blow up the image just a little and the watermark is gone. Will this stop all theft or misuse of your images or video? No, but it does provide you some protection and someone may actually see your image and want to pay you for it. The only credit that counts is your name on a check and 99.99% of us will not get famous posting things on the web. You've spent time and money on your equipment, software and skills and should get compensated for this but when you post on the web without a watermark you give your work away.

So please, watermark your intellectual property!
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Old May 31st, 2010, 09:02 AM   #2
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Great post Rick, I'm sure it'll give a lot of people food for thought.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 10:17 AM   #3
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Rick, I totally agree with you about protecting your work (even though my work is all over the internet with no watermarks!) However, the work usually ends up on YouTube or other sites because that's what the paying clients wants. They want to be able to promote their goods or services and probably would not like to see "PRODUCED BY FAMOUS DAVIS" plastered over the video.

One thing that does kind of ruffle my feathers is people (mostly the wedding video producers) that are adamant about protecting their work, yet unashamedly appropriate other peoples work (copyright songs) for their own financial gain.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 10:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
Rick, I totally agree with you about protecting your work (even though my work is all over the internet with no watermarks!) However, the work usually ends up on YouTube or other sites because that's what the paying clients wants.
Chris agreed. But if the client pays you for your work then it's not really yours because it was a work for hire situation. My main concern is with people who post their own, not work for hire, content and so remove much if not all of the monetary value of the their work. As an aside, I can sometimes get the client to agree that they should watermark their work to further drive customers back to their business. It's a pretty easy argument to make.

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Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
One thing that does kind of ruffle my feathers is people (mostly the wedding video producers) that are adamant about protecting their work, yet unashamedly appropriate other peoples work (copyright songs) for their own financial gain.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 02:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
But if the client pays you for your work then it's not really yours because it was a work for hire situation.
Not always...
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Old May 31st, 2010, 03:55 PM   #6
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While I completely agree with the main thrust of the Original Post, the youtube EULA quoted specifically states that the works can only be used as promotional materials for youtube...

Quote:
...in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof)...
These terms are in every form for every site on the web and entry forms for every Film festival I've ever seen. They allow the "free" service you're using (driven and paid for by promotional monies to offset the server, programming and bandwidth costs) to continue to operate.

By all means protect your work, but leave legalese interpretations to the lawyers (although the people who steal your works don't care what you signed as it's up to you to take them to court and prove that they've stolen it anyway).
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Old May 31st, 2010, 04:40 PM   #7
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Thank you Rick! I dont no if i protect my videos enough, i put my name and the name of the homepage in the corner of the right side on the bottom on youtube and even on my homepage. Thank you very much for your advice! (Sorry for my english!)

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Old May 31st, 2010, 04:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
Chris agreed. But if the client pays you for your work then it's not really yours because it was a work for hire situation. ....
This is not true. A 'work-for-hire' is not automatic just because you are paid - unless otherwise stated in their contract, the work of an independent contractor is generally NOT a work for hire. The only time it is automatic is when the person creating the work is doing so as a bona-fide full-time W2 employee acting within the scope of their regular job duties. If that's the case, their employer owns the copyright to the works they create. But in the case of, say, a videographer creating a training video for a client, even though he is paid for the work, the videographer owns the copyright unless he has a contract with his client that states explicitly in writing that the resulting work is a work-made-for-hire, using the exact words, and transferring copyright to the client. OTOH, if said videographer directs and hires a camera operator to run the camera at his direction, the camera operator is an employee and the footage he shoots is a work-for-hire. It's all about who is the CREATOR of the intellectual property in the video and not just who's pushing the buttons on that camera after someone tells him where to point it and when to roll,.So if you are hired as a creative to make a work for client, you own the copyright, NOT the client, unless your contract says otherwise.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 07:23 AM   #9
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Guys, lets not lose site of the forest for the trees.

The point here continues to be that if you are going to post your video or images on the web, whether on your personal site or others, be smart and watermark your work.
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Last edited by Rick L. Allen; June 1st, 2010 at 08:47 AM.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 08:34 AM   #10
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No doubt that when some play loose and fast with the video site EULAs that content producers lose out. I like the quote in your sig, Rick. :)
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Old June 1st, 2010, 08:39 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
This is not true. A 'work-for-hire' is not automatic just because you are paid - unless otherwise stated in their contract, the work of an independent contractor is generally NOT a work for hire. The only time it is automatic is when the person creating the work is doing so as a bona-fide full-time W2 employee acting within the scope of their regular job duties. If that's the case, their employer owns the copyright to the works they create. But in the case of, say, a videographer creating a training video for a client, even though he is paid for the work, the videographer owns the copyright unless he has a contract with his client that states explicitly in writing that the resulting work is a work-made-for-hire, using the exact words, and transferring copyright to the client. OTOH, if said videographer directs and hires a camera operator to run the camera at his direction, the camera operator is an employee and the footage he shoots is a work-for-hire. It's all about who is the CREATOR of the intellectual property in the video and not just who's pushing the buttons on that camera after someone tells him where to point it and when to roll,.So if you are hired as a creative to make a work for client, you own the copyright, NOT the client, unless your contract says otherwise.
Didn't read all that, life's too short! I think it's obvious what Rick's point about work for hire is really about - in the filming industry, if you are hired by a producer on a daily rate basis to short for them, then the material belongs to them, I assume that's what he meant.
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Old June 1st, 2010, 07:42 PM   #12
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Didn't read all that, life's too short! I think it's obvious what Rick's point about work for hire is really about - in the filming industry, if you are hired by a producer on a daily rate basis to short for them, then the material belongs to them, I assume that's what he meant.
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That's not what he said. Try reading it all, it only takes a few seconds. Life IS too short, and too important, to go about it operating on incomplete data. He said that if one is paid, the person paying owns the work, end of story. That's simply not true. If you are hired by a producer to operate a piece of equipment under his direction, he's the creator and you're a technician and the Producer owns the rights, true enough. But if you're hired by XYZ Corp to create a training video, or ABC firm to make an advertizement, or Mr & Mrs Z to make a video of their wedding, where YOU are the creator of the intellectual property, the simple fact of your being paid does not lose you your copyright rights. You are responsible for the content and you own the rights (and the obligations) that go along with that.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 07:54 AM   #13
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Just to clear things up since this thread is getting side tracked. Most of the work I do as a freelancer is for broadcast and cable networks and for my corporate clients is "work for hire." So my original post was in written in that context. Does that apply to everyone or every situation? No, there are always exceptions.

But back to the point. If you post your work online or post work you do for someone else, whenever possible, be smart and watermark your work. There are too many unscrupulous or uninformed people out there that will steal, borrow and/or misappropriate your work. Don't make it easy for them.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 11:00 AM   #14
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Unfortunately, most film festivals (and even broadcasters) that demand the right to broadcast short films submitted to them not only do a lousy job of restricting access by geographical location (thereby killing all potential sales in other territories for the filmmaker), but they won't allow watermarks. So while they let you keep all ownership and copyrights, your short film is pretty much rendered useless.

It's a take-it-or-leave-it situation. Even Canada's largest broadcaster demands the right to air online, and they're vague (at best) about IP blocking.
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Old June 2nd, 2010, 11:02 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
Just to clear things up since this thread is getting side tracked. Most of the work I do as a freelancer is for broadcast and cable networks and for my corporate clients is "work for hire." So my original post was in written in that context.
I got what you meant, semantics aside. I don't think there's a single client out there who expects you to keep copyright of the work they're hiring you to do.
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