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


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Old January 18th, 2007, 02:08 PM   #16
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Wedding Contract - Bigger is better?

Hi Nick,

Count me in with those with advocating the more comprehensive contract - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Actually, I'm surprised that some of our fellow videographers miss important aspects of their contracts:

- Date (including day of week) and location of wedding, completed by client and initialed (nothing worse than a date misunderstanding with "he said/she said" finger pointing)

- Force Majure clause (including car crash, hospitalization and sudden serious illness, unavoidable transportation problems, equipment stolen, and the like)

- Videographer liability (limited to client payment)

- Videographer's media rights of use spelled out (ownership, right to use elsewhere)

- Music - client personal property (responsible for copyright...)

- Entire Agreement clause (if certain aspects unenforceable, others still apply)

- Grandfather clause (potential updated prices/T&Cs/etc if customer changes contract)

- Lighting (especially cake cutting - client should initial this line item)

- Late payment interest

- Restrictions/disclaimers when client engages additional videographers (DJs, photographer w/camcoder, etc) as well as interference and obstructions by other vendors

- Final edit/approval process spelled out, re-edit revision requests frozen "x" days after receipt of proof

- Client responsible to maintain and archive DVD media; videographer does not warrant life of media - refer to addendum (client should be provided a handout explaining the proper maintenance and storage of DVDs, including the life expectancy)

BTW, items such as meals, parking fees/tolls, dress attire, etc seem trivial to me - great to dicuss but not contract biggies

Incidentally, don't assume forking over cash to a lawyer suddenly makes things better - they'll get the force majure, entire agreement, and liability limits right but be unaware of specifics of our trade. It's up to us to know our business and a lawyer can't be expected to envision most of what I've included above. We really need to spend time looking at best in class contracts by tops in our field and modify them to suit our needs.

Warm Regards, Michael
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Old January 18th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Nistler
Incidentally, don't assume forking over cash to a lawyer suddenly makes things better - they'll get the force majure, entire agreement, and liability limits right but be unaware of specifics of our trade. It's up to us to know our business and a lawyer can't be expected to envision most of what I've included above. We really need to spend time looking at best in class contracts by tops in our field and modify them to suit our needs.

Warm Regards, Michael

Michael, great post. Lot's of good clauses. And he's right - a lawyer can only draw up a contract with the information he has at hand - unless entertainment law is all he does, he's unlikely to know everything about your specific business - here, weddings.

So, I have 2 quick pieces of advice for this: 1) Try to find/get copies of other contracts that are commingly used in the trade. Feel free to modify them to suit your neeeds. Michael has given you a nice start; 2) If you can't find one, be sure to explain to your attorney exactly what it is you do, and about any past problems you've had or even heard about. Then, draw it up to the best of both your abilities. No contract is perfect, or can predict all conflicts, but a well thought out contract can prevent 95% of potential problems.

Clients often want more work done then the've actually contracted for, for instance, so a clause dealing with how many re-edits w/in a certain amount of time is a great idea.

john
evilgeniusentertainment.com
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Old January 18th, 2007, 05:05 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Nistler
...

- Music - client personal property (responsible for copyright...)

-...
Not to change thread topic but just FYI - this won't fly if the issue comes up. As the person actually making the copy when you lay down the track on your master, you're the one responsible for securing the necessary licenses etc and you're the one on the hook for any copyright violations. Even if the client owns the CD of the music they want you to use, it simply ain't legal. That's why if you take something covered by copyright over to Kinko's they'll refuse to copy it. The only way to legally protect yourself from potential problems is to adopt the same policy. A provision like you suggest in the contract won't do it. (I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice - sheesh, why are we so freakin' paranoid that that must be even said?)
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Old January 19th, 2007, 02:48 AM   #19
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Copyright and Contract Follow-up

Steve,

Yes, your Kinko analogy is correct. But not to be coy, that's *IF* they know something is copyrighted. Like Kinkos, the videographer need to take reasonable precautions; that's the whole idea of the contract clause - if the customer understands it's their obligation to get appropriate releases, it's not the responsibility of their vendor to audit their client's credentials/agreements, particularly when the product is for their personal use. Obviously, the gravity of the vendors responsibility increases when the product or service is not for personal use, such as when the client is a business planning to resell media on a "for profit" basis. Steve, I accept you may have a different view on the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 - written in 1789 and updated in 1905, a "few years" before wedding videography became popular). But the simple reality is, if the customer wishes to use their favorite personal selection instead of one of the hundreds of choices from the videographers royalty-free library, the customer *WILL* find a client that will meet their requirements. Finally, for those interested in this always controversial topic, I recommend reading the January 2007 Videographer "What Is Legal?" series by Mark Levy.

Back to contracts, I hope my prior bullet items aren't taken by others to be comprehensive - they're just some of my hot buttons frequently overlooked. If you belong to WEVA, begin by taking a look at their "Contract, Business, & Legal Issues" forum and "In the Biz" audiocast (Show 2 (5/22/06). Other sources include (best first):

http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/Read...ArticleID=9840
(Buy her Wedding Videography Manual and EMAIL Jenny for her template)
http://wedvidtalk.com/ourpodcasts.cfm see audiocast 2006-08-05
http://www.videouniversity.com/wedbook.htm
http://www.videouniversity.com/forum...orum=16;guest=
http://4evergroup.org/xcart/product....8&cat=3&page=1
http://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Kit-Du...e=UTF8&s=books
http://www.findlegalforms.com/xcart/...at=1112&page=1

But watch out for over-simplifed templates like this one:

http://www.mediacollege.com/video/we.../contract.html

Or top google searches for "wedding video contract" that are lacking:

http://www.davisvideopro.com/pdf/wed...racts_cere.pdf
http://www.rusyniak.com/video/2006%2...20Contract.pdf
http://www.artisticvideo.com/contrac..._Agreement.pdf

Improved online reference contracts look more like this:

http://www.monstercrayons.com/consum...edding_tos.pdf


Warm Regards, Michael
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Old January 19th, 2007, 04:53 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Nistler
Steve,

Yes, your Kinko analogy is correct. But not to be coy, that's *IF* they know something is copyrighted. Like Kinkos, the videographer need to take reasonable precautions; that's the whole idea of the contract clause - if the customer understands it's their obligation to get appropriate releases, it's not the responsibility of their vendor to audit their client's credentials/agreements, particularly when the product is for their personal use. Obviously, the gravity of the vendors responsibility increases when the product or service is not for personal use, such as when the client is a business planning to resell media on a "for profit" basis. Steve, I accept you may have a different view on the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 - written in 1789 and updated in 1905, a "few years" before wedding videography became popular). But the simple reality is, if the customer wishes to use their favorite personal selection instead of one of the hundreds of choices from the videographers royalty-free library, the customer *WILL* find a client that will meet their requirements. Finally, for those interested in this always controversial topic, I recommend reading the January 2007 Videographer "What Is Legal?" series by Mark Levy....
Warm Regards, Michael
But your customer isn't the one making the copy of the music and then sellling the copy - you are. Even if the customer has obtained all the necessary sync and mechanical rights licenses, he can't transfer them to you, only the copyright owner can do that. The only exception would be if the client is also the copyright owner. So the onus is on you to obtain the licenses and that can't be waived by any agreement between you and your customer - 2 people cannot create a contract between themselves that is binding on a third party, the copyright owner in this case, unless that third party also is a signatory to the contract.

You might be able to get your customer to endemnify you in the event of legal action against you for copyright infringment but that's another matter. In that case, Big Music Label sues you for infringment and after you've lost your business and all your assets, IF you have enough spare change left over to hire a lawyer, you invoke the contract clause and sue your customer to try and recover the money you had to pay out because you acceeded to their desire for you to use copyright music. But the odds are against you winning - I've been told most courts view that as a violation of the "Clean Hands" principal, ie, in order to seek relief you must come to court with clean hands having done no wrong.

There's a "sticky" at the top of this forum that references the Media Law Project website and their publications regarding copyright, Fair Use etc. They're well worth a read.
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