If I produce a video, should the production company be able to show it? at DVinfo.net

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Old December 2nd, 2010, 10:53 PM   #1
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If I produce a video, should the production company be able to show it?

If i produce a video, as in get the job, edit the video, decide what shots/set up the shots, but use a production company's camera and camera guy. should they be able to display the final product on there website?


I'm thinking no, only because it could look like they did everything. what should I do?
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 12:19 AM   #2
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I would say that YOU are the production company, you have just hired a Cameraman to shoot YOUR job, now, they can show the video to showcase their cameraman's ability (with your permission) BUT they must credit you as the producer/production company.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 04:05 AM   #3
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With your permission and credited, of course. If they're not willing to follow what I would consider common courtesy, might look for another camera guy.

I'd at least mention that you'd like credit.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 07:17 AM   #4
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Sounds like you are the creator of the work and thus would own the copyright. Anyone, including the company that provided the camera, needs your permssion to use it. Of course, if you are an EMPLOYEE of that production company it's a different story and they would own the copyright since you then would have created the video within the scope of your employment.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 08:01 AM   #5
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Whatever weaver says, but if you don't have one - the person who pushes button 'REC' is the creator and all the copyrights holder;
well, at least that's the way it is here in Canada :)
in any case i would recommend you always have a written contract signed by all parties, with everybodyís rights and responsibilities outlined clearly.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 08:45 AM   #6
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Dave, the answers to a couple of basic questions will answer this for you. What does your Release and Waiver Agreement state and what does your Contract with the production company say? These two agreements should state that you are the owner of the all copyrights since it is your idea and you are the author and creator of the project.

If you do not have Release and Waiver Agreements from every crew member working on your project, and a Service Contract with the production company you are using, you are missing some very important documents and I would not proceed with shooting the project until getting those signed documents.

Just my standard operating procedure whether I'm the owner of the project or just a crew member. In either case I make sure I have documented my rights as someone associated with a project.

-Garrett
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Buba Kastorski View Post
Whatever weaver says, but if you don't have one - the person who pushes button 'REC' is the creator and all the copyrights holder;
well, at least that's the way it is here in Canada :)
in any case i would recommend you always have a written contract signed by all parties, with everybodyís rights and responsibilities outlined clearly.
By that logic his camera operator owns the copyright. But a technician operating a piece of equipment under the direction and supervision of a creator who has decided what to shoot and how to shoot it doesn't gain copyright to the footage produced merely by pushing the button. By your argument the focus puller and the grip pushing the dolly would also have copyright.
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Old December 15th, 2010, 12:33 PM   #8
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By your argument the focus puller and the grip pushing the dolly would also have copyright.
Steve, grip person does not operate camera:)
And itís not my argument, itís Canadian Copyright Act,
In case youíre not familiar
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Old December 15th, 2010, 01:40 PM   #9
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I am familiar with the Copyright Act and have it on my screen right now. Nowhere in it does it say that a camera operator owns the copyright to a film or video he shoots by virtue of operating the equipment he uses. It does say the copyright is owned by the person that creates the final copyrightable work. The means the person who is responsible for the content of the intellectual property that is being created. In the case of a film or video, that person is the producer and/or director, the person who decides what shots to get, how they are to be framed, and how they are to be assembled into the final program. Only in the case of a videographer / filmmaker who is wearting two hats as both producer and cameraman who happens to be operating the camera as part of the process of creating the program would the camera operator own the copyright. Things are different for a still photographer where the person holding the camera is normally the one doing the creating of the intellectual content of the resulting photograph. But with film and video, the final show is the intellectual content and the person actually pushing the button on the camera may or may not have any responsibility for the content of the show - on a studio shoot, for example, they are technicians who point the camera where they are told to point it, focus on what they told to focus on, and push the button when the director tells them to roll the camera. Their role is more similar to the grips than it is to the director in that their function is to perform the mechanical operation of a piece of equipment and they have no responsibility for the content of the shot.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 01:29 PM   #10
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I do this a lot. Let's think this through:

1. CLIENT pays PRODUCTION COMPANY to make a work-for-hire.
2. PRODUCTION COMPANY then pays FREELANCER to create a work-for-hire in entirety or in part.
3. FREELANCER delivers the content to the PRODUCTION COMPANY.
4. PRODUCTION COMPANY delivers the content to the CLIENT.

Unless specified otherwise, the CLIENT owns the content at all stages. This is why it is called a work-for-hire. You don't have to be an employee for this to apply.

If the PRODUCTION COMPANY works it out with the CLIENT to use some of the work for their portfolio, they have every right to display the work you helped them make. Similarly, if you (FREELANCER) work it out with the PRODUCTION COMPANY to display some of the work in your portfolio, then you have the right to display the work. Until the CLIENT changes their mind. =)

You can also flip this whole scenario. In your case, it sounds like you (ONE MAN PRODUCTION COMPANY) hired the "production company" (really just a freelance organization and rental house) to augment what you were providing the CLIENT. So... they need permission from you, and you would need to get permission from the CLIENT. If there are PERFORMERS (etc) involved, the CLIENT may need to get their permission before giving you permission to give the "production company" permission.

Keep lines of communication open and always arrange for proper credit.

Good luck!
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Old December 17th, 2010, 04:47 PM   #11
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I do this a lot. Let's think this through:

1. CLIENT pays PRODUCTION COMPANY to make a work-for-hire.
2. PRODUCTION COMPANY then pays FREELANCER to create a work-for-hire in entirety or in part.
3. FREELANCER delivers the content to the PRODUCTION COMPANY.
4. PRODUCTION COMPANY delivers the content to the CLIENT.

Unless specified otherwise, the CLIENT owns the content at all stages. This is why it is called a work-for-hire. You don't have to be an employee for this to apply.

...
Generally true, except for the very first bullet point and the statement "client owns the content in all stages." Only under specific circumstances does the client ever own the copyright. Ownership of a copyrightable work falls to the author of the work by statute. CLIENT hiring PRODUCTION COMPANY and paying their fee does not automatically make the resulting work a "work-for-hire" on the part of the production company UNLESS the contract specifically spells out in writing that it is. Without the wording of "work made for hire" or words to that effect in the engagement agreement, the production company, NOT the client, owns the copyright to the resulting work since they are the author of the work. What client gets for the fee they have paid is a license to use the resulting intellectual property. As the author of the work, PRODUCTION COMPANY retains ownership of the copyright unless they explicitly transfer it to the client in writing (under the copyright statute, all assignments of copyright MUST be in writing). FREELANCER, OTOH, is not the author since he is working as a temporary employee, subject to tax withholding, etc, of PRODUCTION COMPANY. As an employee, his employer is the legal owner of the work he produces under their direction. It is PRODUCTION COMPANY that controls the content produced and the method of its production. But PRODUCTION COMPANY is NOT an employee of CLIENT even though they collect a fee for the production. Payment of the fee to the production company is not what makes it a work-for-hire but rather the existence of a written instrument that says it IS a work-for-hire. If that contract provision is missing, the client does not own the content.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 06:32 PM   #12
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I don't want to go too far off the subject but there seems to be a very common misconception about means to convey rights with respect to "works made for hire". This is a very important article that should be read:

Work For Hire

I have also seen this very situation played out in legal venues. In short, just writing in an agreement that a work is being made for hire is not sufficient. Most of the work that people are doing that is discussed in these forums cannot convey rights under section 201 (b) which covers ownership of copyrights. Most of the work does not fall under one of the nine required statutory categories for it to be considered commissioned work. A friend of mine was the victim of this mistake and seeing her go through that opened my eyes very wide. I discussed it with a copyright attorney and he confirmed that the Works For Hire provision is intended to be used for a narrowly defined type of work.

The attorney I spoke with made a very good suggestion and the article linked above echoes it. Any agreement you enter into should contain specific copyright assignments, even if it is a work for hire. Don't simply rely on your agreement containing a line that says "this is a work for hire".

Of course this is applicable for US Copyright Law and I don't know if it is the same in Canada.

I've raised this on other discussions regarding copyrights but I think it is important enough, and seems to be a very incorrectly used method of trying to convey copyrights, that it warrants repeating.

-Garrett
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Old December 18th, 2010, 07:00 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
I don't want to go too far off the subject but there seems to be a very common misconception about means to convey rights with respect to "works made for hire". This is a very important article that should be read:

Work For Hire

I have also seen this very situation played out in legal venues. In short, just writing in an agreement that a work is being made for hire is not sufficient. Most of the work that people are doing that is discussed in these forums cannot convey rights under section 201 (b) which covers ownership of copyrights. Most of the work does not fall under one of the nine required statutory categories for it to be considered commissioned work. ...

-Garrett
AFAIK it's the same here north of the border. The claim was made in one post that the guy who pushes the button on the camera always owns the copyright to the footage shot. Not true - by the discussion on the link you posted the guy who pushes the button may well be making a work-for-hire, if his agreement says he is, since he is making a contribution to a film or audio-visual work. A cameraman employed by a TV station or a freelance camera operator hired by a production company for a specific shoot does not own copyright on the footage he shoots during the course of his employment, for example. In the case of the freelancer, he is operating under the supervision of and at the direction of the production company. But the PRODUCER, ie the production company, does own the copyright to the work since he/they are responsible for the actual intellectual content. Another post implied that the client automatically owns the copyright because he paid to have the video produced. Again, not true. Paying a professional independent contractor's fee in echange for him performing a service does not make the professional an employee of his client simply by virtue of the money changing hands - the other elements of the IRS/CRA definitions of "employee" also enter into consideration. If the contractor is the author of the final work, delivering a completed product that he created for the client to the client, he will own copyright unless the employment agreement states he is creating a work-for-hire and/or he transfers copyright in writing.
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Old December 18th, 2010, 10:51 AM   #14
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AFAIK it's the same here north of the border. The claim was made in one post that the guy who pushes the button on the camera always owns the copyright to the footage shot. Not true - by the discussion on the link you posted the guy who pushes the button may well be making a work-for-hire, if his agreement says he is, since he is making a contribution to a film or audio-visual work.
I agree which is why I've gone under the assumption that the camera operator could be interpreted by a court as having copyrights over the specific material they produced (i.e specific footage they captured). So, the agreement they have to sign prior to working on the project should contain a "works for hire" clause as well as a release and transfer of all copyrights to be safe. Remember, the law states that in order for the work to become a work for hire, a written agreement between the parties specifying that the work is a work made for hire but be executed.


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A cameraman employed by a TV station or a freelance camera operator hired by a production company for a specific shoot does not own copyright on the footage he shoots during the course of his employment, for example.
In the case of the cameraman employed by a TV station, it is apparent that the work automatically becomes a work for hire. But in the case of the freelance camera operator it would not be a work made for hire unless "the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire." (that's a direct quote from the legal text). So, unless their is a written agreed prior to execution of work, the freelance cameraman may own the copyrights. Or, at least there seems to be some room for his claim.

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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
In the case of the freelancer, he is operating under the supervision of and at the direction of the production company. But the PRODUCER, ie the production company, does own the copyright to the work since he/they are responsible for the actual intellectual content.
This may be true under some kind of precedence, but the freelance jobs I've gotten working for a producer or production company have made me sign an agreement with a copyright clause, and I do the same when I hire someone to help me on my shoots. Maybe this is redundant but it cannot hurt.

The point I'm trying to convey is that there have been cases where people have gone under the assumption that they own the copyrights under the "works for hire" section and have discovered that they did not, either because the nature of the work did not qualify as a work for hire or they did not even have it in writing. I think the most important thing is to have written agreement of who has what specific rights.

As with all legal "stuff" I make my usual disclaimer, I'm not a lawyer so if you have any questions regarding the law it's usually a worthwhile dollar spent to consult one.

-Garrett
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Old December 18th, 2010, 11:22 AM   #15
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In the case of the freelancer, he is operating under the supervision of and at the direction of the production company. But the PRODUCER, ie the production company, does own the copyright to the work since he/they are responsible for the actual intellectual content.
[
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Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
This may be true under some kind of precedence, but the freelance jobs I've gotten working for a producer or production company have made me sign an agreement with a copyright clause, and I do the same when I hire someone to help me on my shoots. Maybe this is redundant but it cannot hurt.
The thing that complicates this is that just because the production company hiring the camera operator chooses to call him an independent contractor, and just because the freelancer wants to be treated as an independent contractor, that doesn't actually make him one. If he works under the direction and supervision of the employing producer, is answerable to them for the quality of his work, works when, where, and under what conditions that the production company specifys, uses the production company's equipment, is paid based on his time rather than a fixed fee for the product regardless of the time involved, etc he is legally an employee even though the term of his employment is only for the one specific job. His choosing to call himself an independent contractor does not in itself make him one. The production company ought to be witholding taxes, social insurance, unemployment, etc and again, their failure to do that still doesn't suffice to make him a non-employee independent.
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