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Taking Care of Business
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Old January 10th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #1
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Ownership of work for hire?

I worked with a client for about 2 years and over an absolutely stupid thing that went wrong in a presentation (the last 6 second of a 17 min presentation not playing in their banquet, error from the person in charge of playing the video) they are replacing me with another company. They are pinpointing the error on me telling me that I didn't prepare the file right!!!! anyways

I have all the original files, clips, spfx in folders. I told them that as curtsey i will save these files on an external HD so they dont need to rebuild the project if need to modify. and i will hold on to it for later you just pay for the HD.
What they are demanding me now is to give them that HD so anyone can modify it and can work with the files. Why should i give thme the original file that i designed and put so much work into and have somebody else modify and sell with their name on it?

Yea it was begining of my work and the relationship was great so no contract Shocked but do they have the right to fry me ?
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Old January 10th, 2006, 03:53 PM   #2
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If you designed the file it's yours, no?
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Old January 10th, 2006, 04:00 PM   #3
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If the verbal agreement did not involve delivery of the project file, then they don't have any rights over it. Make it clear to them that the only deliverable was the video, and that the project file remains your property. Maybe they will reconsider their decision. If not, offer the project file, but for a price. They'll have to decide whether they want to pay you for it or pay someone to redo it from scratch.
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Old January 10th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #4
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Sounds like your client got a new friend that is new to video production and thinks they can save money by going with some kid.

The file is yours you created it. Not having a contract actually screwed them this time. From now on get it in writing especially if it's your mother inlaw.

Good Luck.
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Old January 10th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #5
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Yup, it's very common for the videographer to own the rights to the raw footage, and then sell that footage back to the company. The files themselves are essentially the raw footage, right? At the very least, even if you were to hand them the raw footage tapes for free the project files, music, graphics, etc are yours. No reason to hand over organized project files that you created.

I would go back and forth with them until they start talking a lawsuit. I'm betting they have the resources to go to court while your company may not. If it were me I'd probably back down at a lawsuit because I don't have the time, energy or money to put up with it.

Explain to them that it will be faster and more affordable for them to pay you for changes in the future products based on these files. You built the files so you know where everything is. Explain that soemone else would have to learn your entire workflow before being able to use the files at all. good luck and let us know what happens.
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Old January 10th, 2006, 05:37 PM   #6
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i would look up the content ownership for "work for hire" situations... a lot of the time it belongs to them, because you got paid to do it, but i don't know if that has to be specified in the original(nonexistant in this case) contract.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 03:49 AM   #7
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only if specifically mentioned in a contract do i give up my source files. and it will definately cost them. if your name is on the source materials and they are handed to someone else, you are now associated with that person. if they do work that is substandard or just downright bad in the future with that material, your name is on that project.

by handing over your source materials, you are giving them license to make you look bad.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 07:32 AM   #8
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If the tail end being cut off was the fault of the person running the playback equipement, those missing 6 seconds would be on the tape/DVD/CD that they played, right? Wouldn't a viewing of the program materials that you delivered to them prove conclusively that you did your job properly and aren't responsible for their employee's screwup?
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Old January 16th, 2006, 07:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
i would look up the content ownership for "work for hire" situations... a lot of the time it belongs to them, because you got paid to do it, but i don't know if that has to be specified in the original(nonexistant in this case) contract.
I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV.

That being said, as I understand itr, for a work to be considered a "work for hire," the person producing it must either be a regular employee doing the production in the course of the performance of their regular job duties - ie, a cameraman for a TV broadcaster - or if they are an independent contractor, they have been hired under a contract the specifically says in writing that the resulting work will be the employer's property created as a work-for-hire.
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Old January 18th, 2006, 08:13 AM   #10
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Dan,
You have some interesting information given here but I suggest that you go back to the start, that is the meeting when you agreed to provide a completed 17 minute presentation to be played at the client's event. You did agree to provide a finished product, that means anything and everything that you determined to create that finished product. As a result you also agreed to a price or some type of compensation. The contract or agreement was established.
As a result of a "problem" you are now evaluating an entirely different set of circumstances and it has also become emotional.
You can't go back an "rework" the deal after the fact (you wouldn't want the client to request 600 dvds of a project if you hadn't discussed it in the initial meeting).
Yes, yes it can be said that you own this and they own that but if ends up in court the judge will want to know how this started and what was the original agreement.
I have seen this happen many times over the years and what you must consider is the bigger picture. Perhaps you can consider it a mistep in the path of your career.
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Old January 18th, 2006, 09:25 AM   #11
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It would seem to me, not that I am an attorney either, that the only thing the client is entitled to, is the raw material. The job was for a completed work, which you provided. Not knowing where exactly the error came from, it is possible they are breaching their agreement. After 2 years on the project, I would not hand over any work I had done, other than the raw footage, unless I was paid for that time and work.

I had done a web design for a client, and redid their entire site. After simply asking about claims they did not have a legal right to the works in question, I was dropped, and someone else had their name on my design. Screw that. Give them the footage, let someone else get the pleasure of doing the job.
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Old January 18th, 2006, 09:42 AM   #12
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You could claim the project files were deleted to make way for another project...
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Old January 18th, 2006, 09:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Swinnea
You could claim the project files were deleted to make way for another project...
To make way for a paying client's project ;)
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Old January 19th, 2006, 10:31 AM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Swinnea
You could claim the project files were deleted to make way for another project...
With all due respect, Patrick, telling an untruth is *never* the answer to a problem, it only compounds it. Honesty is *always* the best policy.
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Old February 15th, 2006, 02:55 AM   #15
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well patrik that's what happen,
little by little their files are being deleted. I offered them that i will make a back up HD with everything BUT i will be the only sole company accessing this HD and it will not leave my office all i will charge you is the price the of the HD. They were offended! LOL
I know the director after 2 years an absolute perfectionist to the max level i be you for the level of the work he wants and for the amount of work he will put anyone under no one will give them the product i gave them and if they do i would loooooooove to see the bill.

I'm glad i'm learning this stuff and improving my contracts little by little. for a 23 year old in business (officialy) for 8 month i'm doing pretty well thank g-d.
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