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Taking Care of Business
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Old August 21st, 2014, 04:56 AM   #1
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who owns what?

Just had a call from a writer friend who completed shooting on a shot film only to have everything go pear shaped. I have to go with her tomorrow to 'get the footage'

The director, a young man of 'vast' experience insisted on being both director & DOP and getting someone to operate. both the writer & producer contributed a couple of grand for lighting etc, but nothing was ever formalised. no contracts of any sort - they did get release forms from the actors.

The director/DOP now insists it's his company that is the producer or co-producer and he wants control.

The writer & producer have decided to pull the plug on the whole affair and simply want their footage back. To my mind the director has no hold on the footage (apart from the fact that it's physically in his control)

It was shot on his camera & lenses but still, without a contract or agreement of any sort. To my mind he hasn't got anything to give him a hold on the data (the USB drive it's supposed to be on was purchased by the writer)

any suggestions comments? I think I'm only along for the threatening factor anyway.
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Old August 21st, 2014, 06:21 AM   #2
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Re: who owns what?

You'll want to consult an attorney familiar with copyright issues in your locale but a quick read of the framework of copyright in Australia indicates it is very similar to America where the person operating the camera or their employer holds the copyright of media generated by the camera.
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Old August 21st, 2014, 07:14 AM   #3
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Re: who owns what?

yea - I had a feeling this was going to get messy.

I helped out on sound and even before I met the guy I knew something was up - old age intuition or something but these kids just think it's all wine & flowers till the shit hits the fan
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Old August 21st, 2014, 07:19 AM   #4
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Re: who owns what?

One caveat, Chris. While the person pushing record generally owns the copyright (Have you seen the selfie taken by a monkey?), IF they were hired for that purpose, and copyright was not otherwise negotiated in the contract. For instance:

As a wedding DJ, I used to work for a company. When I left, the owner tried to stop me using photos and video that I had taken at my dances. He claimed he owned them. The law says I did, since I took the footage, AND it was NOT part of my job duties, and I supplied my own camera.

Whether or not, Paul, the copyright will be an issue will depend on Australian law. I would hope you won't have a problem since he "director/DOP" was hired for that purpose, so it would be silly for him to own the footage. Hopefully, despite the lack of contracts, your friend has *something* in writing that can help if it continues to be a problem.
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Old August 21st, 2014, 07:25 AM   #5
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Re: who owns what?

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Originally Posted by Robert Benda View Post
One caveat, Chris. While the person pushing record generally owns the copyright (Have you seen the selfie taken by a monkey?), IF they were hired for that purpose, and copyright was not otherwise negotiated in the contract.
The OP indicated there was no contract in the first post. I was answering in context with how the question was framed.

You are absolutely correct where there is a contract those rights can be shifted as needed by the project. In situations such as this where there is no contract the rights goes to the "default" party which from what I read looks to be the camera operator or their employer where the camera op is a direct employee of a company.
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Old August 21st, 2014, 07:59 AM   #6
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Re: who owns what?

there are no contracts anywhere - D agreed to be director and B agreed to be DOP, both unrelated but approached by the writer/producer. D then insisted on taking the role of DOP as well and B agreed to be operator (reluctantly). The camera belongs to B and the footage has been downloaded to a USB drive owned by T ( the writer) but in D's possession.

D now refuses to sign a contract from the producer and had countered with his own contract.

I'm suggesting that he hand the drive back - he cannot go ahead to complete and release the film without the agreement of the writer producer, I'm not sure if she can complete & release the film without D's approval.

"we got on so well, I didn't think we needed to bother with the paperwork" - J*@%S H C*&@#T!
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Old August 21st, 2014, 08:32 AM   #7
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Re: who owns what?

I think that is going to be stuck in limbo until someone relents.

I recommend talking to a lawyer before any more communication with the other parties occurs. You may have legal remedies for getting the physical drive back. You wouldn't want to tip your hat there and give an opportunity to delete footage on the drive before returning it.
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Old August 21st, 2014, 10:21 AM   #8
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Re: who owns what?

Chris is right.

I"m hoping that, inspite of no contract, the implicit understanding, combined with the camera and actual operator being another person will mean the law is on your friend's side.

*a nice reminder that contracts are important, no matter how low key the job, and never let one person have all the copies.
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Old August 21st, 2014, 01:29 PM   #9
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Re: who owns what?

Just another reminder that a Service Agreement or Contract is 110% imperative regardless of the type of work involved.
As my lawyer(s) have always told over the years...."if it's not in writing....it isn't!"
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Old August 24th, 2014, 01:07 AM   #10
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Re: who owns what?

The way I see it, absent a contract, 'B' would probably have the best claim
as it was his camera and he was operating it (this would be the case in the US anyways).
Could you get him on your 'side' before you go to the lawyers? It might help
your chances once lawyers get involved.
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Old August 24th, 2014, 10:36 AM   #11
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Re: who owns what?

the writer ended up giving in and it will go ahead now, I can see it costing more money and still ending up messy but at least she's learned a lesson
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Old August 24th, 2014, 11:05 AM   #12
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Re: who owns what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Mailath View Post
the writer ended up giving in and it will go ahead now, I can see it costing more money and still ending up messy but at least she's learned a lesson
You mean, it everyone is back on the job? Be sure to get a copy of that footage :)
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