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Old August 27th, 2005, 03:33 PM   #1
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Release for set photographer

My friend is going to be our set photographer, and I was wondering whether there is a boilerplate release form somewhere so we can use his photographs as we wish?
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Old August 27th, 2005, 05:23 PM   #2
 
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There is. Do a web search.

If you're hiring him to shoot stills of your production, they are your stills do with as you please. That's a given, under the circumstances.

Jay
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Old August 28th, 2005, 04:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
There is. Do a web search.

If you're hiring him to shoot stills of your production, they are your stills do with as you please. That's a given, under the circumstances.

Jay
Not quite. The creator of a copyrightable work owns the copyright unless it's created as a "work for hire." But the act of paying someone to do the work does not in itself make it a work for hire. And unless this is a work for hire situation the photographer owns the copyright just like we own the copyright on a wedding video we might shoot. Work for hire can happen in a couple of ways. The first would be if the photographer was Jay's employee - paid a wage, taxes withheld, working under Jay's direction and subject to his supervision and control - and the photographs were created as part of his regular job duties. The employee taking the pictures at the photo studio in Sears would be a classic example. The other way it happens is if there is a valid written contract with the photographer that explicitly contains the words "work for hire" as applicable to the photographs being created. But as I understand it, other than under those circumstances a "work for hire" situation does not automatically exist even if the photographer is a paid contractor. If you hire a photographer to shoot stills on set, to shoot your wedding or take your portrait, to cover a news event, or to photograph the latest Paris fashions for your magazine, the photographer owns the copyright to the work unless they assign the rights over to you in writing or their employment contract spells out explicitly that it is a work for hire. That's how it comes about that Avedon owns the rights to all his editorial fashion work and not Vogue magazine even though it may have been created on paid assignment for them. For it to be automatic, they have to truly be a regular employee in every sense of the word.

But even if there's a written agreement saying that the photographs are made as a work for hire, they still might not be. It depends on where and how they are being used and the law specifically states what uses the work of an independent contractor can be put to and have the work considered work for hire. Found an interesting web site that disusses it in detail (copyrighted so I can't reproduce it here but here's the link -- http://copylaw.com/new_articles/wfh.html)

By the way, the same situation applies to our work as a videographer for our clients. We automatically hold the copyright on all video we create unless we explicitly assign the rights to the client in writing or our contract with them specifically states it is their propperty and was created as a work for hire, using those exact words. (And even if you assign all rights, after 35 years or so you can regain them on demand without payment by formally asserting your rights as author of the work.)

Last edited by Steve House; August 28th, 2005 at 05:25 AM.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 06:53 AM   #4
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Good lord, why does this stuff have to be so complicated? The photographer is my friend, and will do it for free. The issue is being able to the pictures for distribution, like on posters and DVD covers.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 09:47 AM   #5
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Just have him sign a one paragraph or even one sentence note saying he gives you permission to use the pix for any purposes. If you want to make it even more official, just include the phrase "In exchange for one dollar and other valuable consideration" and pay him a dollar. More of an issue than his permission to reproduce the pix is to get signed releases from any recognizable persons appearing in the photos and the owners of any recognizable locations or property, especially if they're going to be published, used commercially for such things as DVD covers, or used for advertising.
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Old August 28th, 2005, 12:21 PM   #6
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More of an issue than his permission to reproduce the pix is to get signed releases from any recognizable persons appearing in the photos and the owners of any recognizable locations or property, especially if they're going to be published, used commercially for such things as DVD covers, or used for advertising.
By recognizable I presume you do not mean "famous", but "whose identity is distinguishable", so throwing them out of focus would be sufficient?
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Old August 28th, 2005, 03:45 PM   #7
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By recognizable I presume you do not mean "famous", but "whose identity is distinguishable", so throwing them out of focus would be sufficient?
Yes, as in "identity is distinguishable" - but I'd be careful on relying on their just being out of focus. A people-shaped blob a mile away I wouldn't worry about it but an out-of-focus person up close could be an issue. For advertsing and commercial use, if you can tell it's a human, you need a release AFAIK.
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Old August 31st, 2005, 08:43 AM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by Emre Safak
Good lord, why does this stuff have to be so complicated? The photographer is my friend, and will do it for free. The issue is being able to the pictures for distribution, like on posters and DVD covers.
It's not complicated, unless you make it so.

That being the case, you work it out with him. Done! Why else would you have him photograph your shoot if you couldn't use the photos?

Jay
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Old August 31st, 2005, 02:01 PM   #9
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Why else would you have him photograph your shoot if you couldn't use the photos?
The issue is not between us; it is between me and the distributor, if I ever get one :) Won't they insist on seeing a release?
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Old August 31st, 2005, 02:25 PM   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Emre Safak
The issue is not between us; it is between me and the distributor, if I ever get one :) Won't they insist on seeing a release?
IF you get one, I'm sure you and your friend will cooperate with one another. Why are you making this so complicated?

"Just do it!"

Jay
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Old August 31st, 2005, 02:26 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Emre Safak
The issue is not between us; it is between me and the distributor, if I ever get one :) Won't they insist on seeing a release?
Possibly - so it would only take 5 minutes to locate a simple one on the Net and type it up, both of you sign it, and you hand him a dollar bill as payment to make it a binding contract. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Like a parachute, it's better to have one and not need it than need it and not have it.
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