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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:15 AM   #1
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Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

I live in Oregon, and I made a video for a former client. That client has had the video re-editied by someone else and used in another production. Do I have any recourse, as I did not relinquish my rights to the video?

Thanks, in advance.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:17 AM   #2
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

Absolutely naff' all you can do about it.

Did you have a signed contract saying you have exclusive rights to all material filmed?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #3
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

I did not sign a letter retaining my rights. In the U.S., my belief is that you actually have to sign your rights away. Ownership is assumed unless signed away. That's what I've heard, anyway.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:27 AM   #4
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

No legal advice here, but did he pay you for the footage?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:29 AM   #5
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

They paid for the original production. (Don't think I broke even in the deal.) Just did it in the hope of future work - which they gave to someone else.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:34 AM   #6
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

As James says it depends on whether your contract stated that you had exclusive rights to the use of the video. There seem to be extremely varied opinions on a client's rights to video use, but my own views are quite clear on it. If a client asks me to film a production for them then I quote a price for the work, time, equipment and my expertise. Once that production is complete, then I consider that as I have been paid for my work, that it now belongs to the client and they can do what they wan wih it.

If on the other hand, I have produced a finished product at my own expense, and someone wishes to use it, then there would be a contract for payment on the type of useage, as I would own the rights to the work. For repeat use, such as broadcast etc, I would expect royalties to an industry standard level.

As an analogy, if I pay a builder to build a house for me, once completed, I expect to have full rights to do as I wish with it. If he builds a house for me to rent, it would still be his and I would only have rights that we have agreed between us.

Others may well have different opinions :-)

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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:40 AM   #7
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenn Christenson View Post
I did not sign a letter retaining my rights. In the U.S., my belief is that you actually have to sign your rights away. Ownership is assumed unless signed away. That's what I've heard, anyway.
Lesson learnt i'd say ...

They paid you to carry out some work so as far as they're concerned they have as much rights to using it any way they seem fit like yourself.

I would write a contract saying the work you produce can't be modified in any way what so ever unless you give written consent or its a breach of copyright.

You can pull out the same line now if you want too ... however as a lawyer would say ... "how much money do you have, to be right?" either way you'll have to contact a lawyer to take it further.

Just write a polite email saying they aren't allowed to use your work like that. If they're worried and concerned about the law, they might stop.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:48 AM   #8
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

Did you have a contract with the client? If so what rights did you grant in the contract?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:49 AM   #9
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

They put the work on Youtube, so, I was just thinking of giving it a copyright flag.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 11:56 AM   #10
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

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Originally Posted by Chris Medico View Post
Did you have a contract with the client? If so what rights did you grant in the contract?
There was no contract.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

why do people speculate on things that are available free from the official sources?

U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law: Chapter 2

first paragraph,.

unless you have a contract that states it was a work for hire, you have original rights to the property. the only real question is what do you really expect to get out of making a stink out of it?
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:42 PM   #12
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

As I told them, I wanted a fee for use of the video in this new production. I'm looking for them to remove the elements I created - unless they're willing to compensate me for their use.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:44 PM   #13
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Levine View Post
unless you have a contract that states it was a work for hire, you have original rights to the property. the only real question is what do you really expect to get out of making a stink out of it?
That's not what it says actually:

In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright.

The employer (the person who paid the shooter) is considered the "author", and owns the copyright.
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Old August 16th, 2013, 12:45 PM   #14
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

Kenn,
I am not a lawyer and even if I was I would not give you legal advise on the internet BUT I can tell you that I was once in a similar situation and here's is what MY lawyer told ME. "You %^&!!@#@@@$$%%$%&()_+_+&^%$#@!!@#$%%^^&^&&" FOOL! How many times do I have to tell you that WITHOUT a contract or SERVICE AGREEMENT you have no claim to ANYTHING."
Now this was my lawyer talking to ME and I'm sure you can imagine that he explained to me in no uncertain terms that a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on so here are a few things that my attorney told me to consider before pursuing any further action. (in no particular order of importance)...

1) What do I expect to accomplish by taking further action of any kind?
2) Would it be worth the hassle?
3) Would I be harming my reputation?
4) Would it stand up in court?
5) Can I prove to a legal certainty that I did the work?
6) Can I prove to a legal certainty that I am now or have been harmed by the former client posting the work on the internet?

Again I am not a lawyer but I believe these are some of the things you might want to consider before moving ahead with any type of action.

Just sayin'!
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Old August 16th, 2013, 05:33 PM   #15
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Re: Former Client Using Video w/o Premission

I am a lawyer, although intellectual property rights is not my field As a lawyer, the first thing I would do is have you sign an agreement that says I will research the issues of your case with. That agreement would set out the terms of my employment, hourly rate, and so forth. Then I'd say " Please pay me a retainer." before I start.

Second thing is that oral contracts, unless they violate the statute of frauds, are as binding as written contracts. So don't let anyone tell you they aren't. The issue with oral contracts is always a matter of proving up the agreement. One of the best ways to prove up an oral contract, is to confirm the oral agreement by simply memorializing to in writing to the other party, indicating that is how you have agreed to work. That would act as convincing evidence of the agreement of the parties.

First things that I would look at as a lawyer is the law of the state in which the project was performed. There could be statutes specifically on point, as well as case law interpreting the statute. That failing, there is always a body of "common law" that covers most contract situations.

I have seen people indicate on this site and others that the video, unless otherwise stated in writing, is the property of the shooter. While that may be a general rule in many jurisdiction, your particular state or area may have a statute that states otherwise, or a case law that interprets a general rule. There are always exceptions to general rules, and as lawyers, we are taught to ferret those out.

When I actually shoot for another party and I turn over the raw footage to them, I assume they are receiving it with all rights in return for whatever compensation I got. If I want to protect any rights, like using it for my own puposes, I will get that in writing.
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