Signing Away Rights? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 9th, 2009, 08:11 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Posts: 153
Signing Away Rights?

We have a standard clause in our contract that states that we retain the copyrights to all video that we shoot. We have one client that has asked that we sign over the copyright to them, and that they would allow us to use the video for promotional purposes.

My first reaction, was, why not sign in over? If it's the difference between getting the gig and not getting the gig, I'm leaning toward signing over the rights. In the short time I've had the business, it really hasn't been an issue and really, the only reason we want to retain the rights is for marketing purposes. Anyone have any bad experiences about signing over their copyrights to a client?
__________________
www.williamsmythvisuals.com
William Smyth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 08:22 AM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: North Conway, NH
Posts: 1,745
Hell no. The initial agreement was for you to provide something to fill a need they have. You are providing a service investing your time and talent. If they want to repurpose the material, they are getting additional value from it. If you sign over your rights you won't, plus it could show up in places and in forms you never intended, nor wanted. If they do a hack job on it, it could reflect badly on you. Again, hell no.

I just shot an interview with a nationally famous sports broadcaster. The agreed upon release was very specific about how and where it could be used as he didn't want bits of it showing up on YouTube. Can't say that I blame him.

Surrender your rights at your own peril.
Tripp Woelfel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 08:39 AM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Posts: 153
Good points, Trip. This is for a wedding, I can't imagine what they would re-use it for. Unless someone at the wedding becomes news worthy. I've had some clients concerned about embarrassing clips ending up on YouTube. I just explain that if I went around posting embarrassing clips on YouTube, I wouldn't be in business very long. That usually puts them at ease.
__________________
www.williamsmythvisuals.com
William Smyth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #4
Sponsor: JET DV
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 7,873
I would lean toward NOT signing off all rights to the footage. However, if the client desires, I *WILL* add a clause saying that the footage will NOT be used for promotional purposes - signed off by both parties.
__________________
Edward Troxel [SCVU]
JETDV Scripts/Excalibur/Newsletters
Edward Troxel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 11:19 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Willmar, MN
Posts: 1,400
Quote:
Originally Posted by William Smyth View Post
If it's the difference between getting the gig and not getting the gig, I'm leaning toward signing over the rights.
Well, there's the crux of the issue. Sure, we can call for you to stick by our lofty ideals and artistic integrity, but in the end you'll lose out on a couple grand for those ideals. If this date was far enough in the future, the odds are probably good you'll get another booking.

I might be tempted to pass on the booking just because this may portend more troublesome requirements from them in the future.
Chris Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 12:29 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Welland, Ontario
Posts: 311
I am with Chris.

In the end, if you need the booking and comfortable with singing away the rights, then take the booking. But it feels weird if you do not know why they want the copyright to the footage. I would politely inquire about their reasons and see if you can accommodate them.

For example, if they wanted the copyright so they can duplicate copies for the wedding party and immediate family, perhaps you can write into the contract that they do not have the copyright, but are authorized to produce more copies.

Obviously they have some concerns or some plans for the footage. As long as it is a reasonable concern/plan then I'm sure you can come to some agreement. If their ideasare not reasonable, then it's probably best to pass on the wedding.
Matthew Craggs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 12:30 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,125
I've never understood this. I'd estimate that over 90% of the material I shoot I cannot do anything with, as the client retains copyright as part of the deal. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to use some of it, but it doesn't work that way for my business. I suppose the wedding industry have just got used to retaining copyright, as this is what photographers always do, and wedding videos just followed suit.

I always wonder what use random wedding video would ever be, sitting on the shelf, apart from being used as examples/showreels to get more work. I've got all sorts of weird material like awards ceremony footage shot when the recipient can't be there in person - interesting, especially the out-takes, but they're not mine. I've got plenty of aircraft material too, freefall parachute stuff on the ground and in the aircraft, plus helicopter shots, but I've been paid for them, and it's just dead material.

I must admit that nowadays, I often don't even keep the media - giving an un-dubbed original to the client and forgetting it after the funds arrive. Only yesterday two big boxes of old stuff were dumped - I needed the space and decided that as I don't even have a hi-8 player any longer, why keep it.

There does seem to be some need to retain copyright that I don't quite understand. I can appreciate that maybe in a years time they may want some more copies, and being honest people will want the original firm to do them, but the reality surely is that if they want more, somebody will dub them for free, won't they?

Is the wedding of Bob and Jane of any value to anyone else?

I'm not knocking, just confused as to the benefit of copyright retention on a customised product?
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 02:44 PM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Willmar, MN
Posts: 1,400
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson
Is the wedding of Bob and Jane of any value to anyone else?

I'm not knocking, just confused as to the benefit of copyright retention on a customised product?
If Bob or Jane is an aspiring actor, or singer, or otherwise expect to become famous they might want to retain control of the footage. Imagine if you shot Anna Nicole Smith's first wedding or J-Lo's quinceañera? You'd probably have made a few dollars off that footage.

But more than likely, they read that hint in a bridal magazine from an author trying to sound smart and fill up a page.
Chris Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 03:34 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
I can comment as I have just received legal confirmation of my opinion regarding a video that I shot, edited, conducted all the interviews for, created the look and feel of...

The reason I won't turn over the raw footage (or rights to same) to the client is because I want to continue to control how and where my intellectual property is used AND to ensure that my images and workflow remain at the high quality that I strive for. I shoot in a wide gamut setting in camera. I want to ensure (among other things) that uncorrected footage doesn't start appearing on YouTube, Facebook, whatever AND that shots that were never intended to be used (like zooming in to focus etc.) cannot be used. I have set a standard for my work. I have NO interest in someone's nephew re-cutting my footage for a viral video or corporate PowerPoint.
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 04:50 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,125
That's good Shaun, although I'm surprised you had to get legal opinion on that one - I'd always understood that copyright was automatically yours, unless you decide to assign it to somebody else, as I do.

I have to admit that in a few cases, I do do a half-way house. I assign them the copyright for a period - often 3 years (this is what I do for composed music that I know I can use again). So they can use my music for whatever they want, in any territory without the need for specific permission for 3 years. After that, I can use it again. It doesn't seem quite that useful to me for video work.

I quite understand you wanting to retain artistic or quality control. I'd not really considered that. I'm afraid I assumed these products were all one-offs, but with a common approach, as in similar techniques and looks, just different people in each one. As such, it made sense to my non-wedding mind that you'd not really be too bothered what people did with them. I've seen so many on youtube anyway that I assumed (which I must stop doing) that you guys were ok with this kind of thing.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
Paul: **I** wasn't the one who had to get the legal opinion... I was challenged on it. It's still a contentious topic so I can't go into specifics but indeed, all the discussion that has taken place on DVI about IP rights remaining with the originator IN THIS CASE held true.

Addendum: I SHOULD clarify: in MY case, I'm not talking about a wedding but the underlying motive for wanting to retain remains the same regardless.
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 05:21 PM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Posts: 153
A follow up... We told the couple, we really don't sign away the rights and they ended up being cool with it. They just wanted to be able to show it whenever they wanted, make dubs of it for family members. I told them I wouldn't stop them from doing that. So, it's all good. Frankly, they can make as many dubs as they want, if they pass them out, I look at it as free advertising. I hate making dubs anyway.

To clarify, this is a wedding shoot. I would never sign away any rights to any other type of project. I don't see any monetary value to the edited DVD. Unless, somehow they become news worthy. Even if that were the case, I wouldn't ever try to make any money selling videos of past clients. We're trying to go after high end clients, the last thing I would want is them worrying that I'll try to sell their video should something happen.

Thanks for everyone's input.
__________________
www.williamsmythvisuals.com
William Smyth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 09:27 PM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
I respect that a couple would be conscious of copyright in the first place... that's actually a very good thing IMO.

Generally my feeling is that once I deliver a final DVD, I have no problem if they want to make a few copies. My main concern is my final discs are 100%, with printed full color faces and look pretty snazzy, and any copies won't have that typically... but I usually throw in a few "test" discs that have minor things I'm not quite happy with but are fine for 99.99 percent of the viewing public - I figure they can use them, and they aren't fully printed, just sharpie "demo" labelling...

You can simply include a license for use of the final video if there's a question, and retain the copyright, or vice-versa assign them the copyright, with you retaining licensing rights for whatever purpose you might have... I for one don't usually want to see the disc ever again once I've finished editing/tweaking/finalizing it... except for maybe a demo reel, I don't see much use for the finished product - as others have noted, I see the wedding video as having a pretty limited audience!

If they want to distribute a few copies around so all their not yet married friends want to utilize my services in the future, I'm good with that too!
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #14
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,212
This is a tricky subject for us in the UK to comment upon because we, as the authors of the work, have the luxury of being granted copyright by law automatically. However, it is a subject we include in our company terms of business for this reason.

Many years ago a photographer working for a local authority in California was taking snaps of a new township development or similar. He’d quoted a daily rate plus materials.

Suddenly he heard a bang, looked up and saw that a light aircraft had collided with a 727 which was crashing in flames above him. Working on instinct only he banged off a few frames before the plane disappeared from view and crashed.

His pictures were syndicated around the world and he received worldwide fame as the photographer - but just his daily fee for the photos. All the profit from the syndication went to the client who’d hired him - on a daily rate plus materials.

We immediately had our lawyers devise a clause which excluded from the client all rights including copyright to any material not shot expressly for their project. It is still in our wedding production terms. God forbid we ever find ourselves in that awful position but it would be ten times worse if the client got the benefit of our quick thinking.

Finally, a small point which might help someone, unless you are legally trained in your jurisdiction, always have your ToB checked by a lawyer. The money it costs you will be well spent if you ever have to rely on the Terms in court.

Last edited by Philip Howells; October 9th, 2009 at 11:21 PM. Reason: layout
Philip Howells is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 12th, 2009, 08:20 AM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Posts: 153
Philip, it actually works the same way here in the states. If you're a photographer or videographer and you're working as a freelancer, unless you sign a contract with your client, you retain all rights to whatever shoot. In the situation you mention, the only thing I can think of is that the photographer must have had a contract with his client.

It's a bit different if you work for a company full time as a paid employee. I have worked at several television stations here in the states, anything I shoot while working for them, belong to the station. The stations also used freelancers, they were all required to sign contracts.
__________________
www.williamsmythvisuals.com
William Smyth is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:26 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network