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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old February 2nd, 2006, 01:29 PM   #1
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Ownership of Footage

I'm not sure if there is a recent post on this topic. I have done some "trade" work. Do I have a claim on the footage that I shot with my own equipment for a video presentation that a company will use to solicit sponorship and donation monies? In other words, I shot the video, I edited the foottage to produce a 5 minute presentation that will be produced in quantities of 50 discs at a time. I agreed to shoot the video, edit the video, and produce the first 50 discs. I don't want the company I'm doing work for to come to me and expect further work under the initial agreement, and I don't want them to reproduce the discs on thier own. I've already dealt with a few obnoxious requests from the company, so I'm anticipating further complications. Sorry for the long post, but of course when it comes to legal issues things can get complicated/long winded. Thanks for the info and knowledge.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 08:55 PM   #2
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but of course when it comes to legal issues things can get complicated/long winded.

Tom, it is my opinion, that unless there is a written contact signed by the interested parties, proving a meeting of the minds, acting in good faith, which states "all" the terms, including present and future, releases, production quanities, profits, licensing agreements, etc., then...

It is going to be one person's word against the other. leaving it up to a judge to sort out the intent, rights and appropriate law.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 10:52 PM   #3
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That is why every project needs a contract. Otherwise, contact a local lawyer to find out how ugly you can be.

Since I am not a world-famous producer, I always give my clients written permission to copy my work in it's entirety when all invoices are paid in full, freeing me from the aggravation of duplication management. I figure right now the more copies in circulation, the better for me. I am a producer, not a duplicator. But this is a business philosophy, and maybe does not suit you. The issue of copies is only the first hurdle. What happens when they want someone else to re-edit your footage next year? What if they want to use an exerpt on a TV show, or just show the whole five minute program?

You gotta have a contract. Or get a lawyer early-on if you are going to disagree.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 12:44 AM   #4
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I like your philosophy on the number of copies in circulation. I typically put a "Production" clip at the end of my work. Is there ever a time when it is inappropriate to do that? I suppose that I'm ok with copies being made as long as my company logo/name is somewhere in the video.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 01:34 PM   #5
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I have some experience with this, my lawyer says...

Unless I have signed away the rights to my work (through a contract or any other written instrument, i.e.: consent and release). I am the owner of what I shoot.

Duplications though, you may just want the PR... tag it and send it on.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 02:18 PM   #6
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Dave,

I guess that's why there are so many lawyers, so they can keep arguing these things endlessly and racking up the billable hours!

My understanding - I am NOT an attorney - is that, at least in my state, Oregon, a "work for hire" state, that unless otherwise written into a contract, any work for hire you perform, belongs to the person who hired you. In other words, if a company paid me to shoot footage for their video, then it's THEIR footage and I cannot use it unless I get written permission. That's why it is good to spell all that out in the contract to begin with.


Have fun!

Rob

P.S. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult your own attorney.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 02:27 AM   #7
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Thanks for the thoughts. I guess the problem really is that I was asked to shoot the footage, edit the footage, and produce this video. I agreed to do the initial work in exchange for a membership to the tennis club. That in and of itself is all good, what is bothering me is the potential for future expectations to continue to do work under the original agreement. I suppose I will just have to put my foot down and make them sign a "contract" if further work is being requested of me.
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Old February 6th, 2006, 10:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Rob Neidig
Dave,

I guess that's why there are so many lawyers, so they can keep arguing these things endlessly and racking up the billable hours!

My understanding - I am NOT an attorney - is that, at least in my state, Oregon, a "work for hire" state, that unless otherwise written into a contract, any work for hire you perform, belongs to the person who hired you. In other words, if a company paid me to shoot footage for their video, then it's THEIR footage and I cannot use it unless I get written permission. That's why it is good to spell all that out in the contract to begin with.


Have fun!

Rob

P.S. This is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult your own attorney.
Is that true? If so, I'm surprised that state law could supercee federal copyright law.
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Old June 28th, 2006, 01:10 AM   #9
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Ownership of Footage

I don't know if anyone is still paying attention to this thread, but I recently had some footage and edits of mine used in a commercial without being told it was going to be used. Is it unheard of to go to the tv station that aired the commercial and ask for a copy of the tape they used? I'd like to have it for my own records, and to show to family...kind of silly but to say hey look the video I shot and the edits I made created this commercial. If anyone is still listening and has any thoughts I'd appreciate the feedback.
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Old June 29th, 2006, 01:39 AM   #10
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what do you mean by "had some footage and edits of MINE used"
do you own the footage ?
is it the TV station that used your clips ? or did another company use the clips in a their spot ??
or were you hired or working for a company in the past that did the spots?

if it was another company ( not the TV station) that used your clips then i would say the TV station is NOT going to let you have anything ... they'll tell you to get a copy from the owner/ad agency/ whoever payed and submitted the spots ... they can tell you when the spots will air so you can tape it ...

if it was a company you worked for in the past then you go to them and ask for a copy ..

if you own the clips then you either tell give me a copy and/or send a do not use letter to them ASAP ..maybe ask for compensation ...
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Old June 29th, 2006, 05:51 AM   #11
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Take a look at:

http://www.artslaw.org/WFHIRE.HTM

NOTE that there are special exceptions relating to work for hire in the case of motion pictures or audiovisual works.

I googled "Oregon work for hire" and "Oregon copyright law" and could find no reference to Rob's idea that Oregon is a "work for hire state."

I too would be suprised if state law superceeded federal law in this case so I went to http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/ and searched for "work for hire" and this phrase apparently does not appear in Oregon statue. I searched the statues for "copyright" and the only reference I could find were in the generic disclaimers about copyright of the texts of the statutes.

May be time to find another attorney, Rob.

Send a letter to the TV station and tell them the commercial in question has uncleared material in it and to stop using the commercial at once -- you will soon enough get a response.
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Old June 30th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #12
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Ownership of Footage

My situation is that approximately a year ago I was asked to shoot some footage of an event. I did so in return for a complimentary membership to the country club where the event was being held. In any case, I also worked with a country club staff member to produce a promotional DVD, that has been used to promote the event for this summer. I obviously knew about the use of the DVD to solicit sponsorships and promote the event. About a week and a half ago I was watching tv and saw the commercial in question and it was part of the DVD that had been produced. I didn't know there was going to be commercial on the local channel. I'm not looking for any further compensation, I simply want a copy of the commercial to show to friends and family, as well as, proof my work was used for a commercial.
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Old June 30th, 2006, 01:05 PM   #13
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Peter,

Excellent information and links - thanks!

My reference to Oregon being a "work for hire" state came from a seminar I attended several years ago, put on by the local production industry trade group. The attorney who was presenting indicated that unless otherwise stated in a contract, a video produced for a company would be considered work-for-hire. I have not addressed that issue with any other attorney, though it seems that would be a good idea, but I always try to make sure my contract specifies who has what rights to footage I have shot.

I'll have to do some more checking next time I'm working with a lawyer on something.

THANKS!

Rob
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Old July 1st, 2006, 06:56 AM   #14
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This question of ownership of source material (whether it's video raw footage, negatives or original artwork) has been in discussion it seems forever.

The problems and/or facts are as follows:

1. The question only arises "after the fact". That is, after you have completed your project and someone is interested in using your footage for something out of your control. The word "control" or lack of, is what causes the emotion.

2. There may exist clear legal precedent of who owns the footage, but is it worth the legal costs and time to pursue the issue?
NOTE: There are a lot of posts giving advice of what the law says in different regions. Even if they are true, what are you going to do about it? After all, you caused the problem by not making it clear up front!

3. What policy should you enforce at the start? Do you have a policy? Are you prepared to enforce that policy on everything you do?

I feel that Bob Costa's post presents the first step in eliminating potential problems.
Know what it is that you do, make it clear to yourself and your client. You're developing a serious relationship with your client. When someone pays you money, it's no different then when you buy something. The policy, gurantee's or return policy can't be assumed. And they certainly can't be changed after the fact just because you want to.

I have been making a living from video and audio for 23 years. My policy (not for everyone I'm sure) is:
1. I never give or leave the raw footage with the client.
2. If the client requests it, I give it to them. I have built into my price the cost of shooting the raw footage anyway.
3. I'd rather keep the client relationship strong because they historically come back for other projects.
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Old July 1st, 2006, 09:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Neidig
Peter,

Excellent information and links - thanks!

My reference to Oregon being a "work for hire" state came from a seminar I attended several years ago, put on by the local production industry trade group. The attorney who was presenting indicated that unless otherwise stated in a contract, a video produced for a company would be considered work-for-hire. I have not addressed that issue with any other attorney, though it seems that would be a good idea, but I always try to make sure my contract specifies who has what rights to footage I have shot.

I'll have to do some more checking next time I'm working with a lawyer on something.

THANKS!

Rob
I'd definitely check that with an intellectual property or entertainment industry lawyer. As I understand it, "work for hire" only applies automatically to works done by someone in an employee status, ie, on the payroll, taxes withheld, all that stuff and whose job description of sets out that making of such works is part of their regular employment duties. If IBM hires you as a regular employee to be a staff photographer in their corporate communications department and in the course of your duties assigns you to take pictures of the office Christmas party, IBM would own the rights to the pictures as works-for-hire. But if you're a freelancer you're a self-employed contractor, not one of your client's employees, and work-for-hire does not apply UNLESS there's a written agreement stating that it does. If work-for-hire does not apply, you automatically own the copyright to the images and recordings you make (with a few exceptions spelled out in Federal law).

Perhaps the lawyer you mentioned was talking about the situation of, say, a videographer being hired by a production company as DP for a project they had in production. In that case he is an employee of the production company, not an independent vendor of a product or service, and the footage he shot would almost certainly be a work-for-hire and become the property of the production company. Of course, the written 'deal-memo' employment agreement would also most likely state that fact just so there was no confusion or misunderstandings.
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