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James Emory December 23rd, 2004 05:11 PM

Exclusive video related to national security
 
If you were to shoot something that could be interpreted as significant to national security, would you lose the exclusive rights of the footage to the government thus allowing the networks to air it without paying a cent?

Example:

What if you were out shooting on vacation and you happened to catch a jet going down from a missile. I mean you got the whole thing. You call a news agency and they don't want to pay what you want. Could they inform the government about it and that there was a missile involved, possibly making it a threat to national security, thereby getting the footage confiscated by the government? Now in the government's pocession, is it now public domain where any news agency could get a hold of it and show it for free?

As sensitive as it is, perhaps the greatest example is of the different angles shot of the planes crashing into the twin towers. Do you think the networks paid those shooters for that footage or did it become government property where they could get it for free?

Another good example is if you shoot a UFO landing along with the occupants getting out and walking around. Could the same as above happen?

The bottom line question is if you shoot something that is very extraordinary, do you have the rights and complete ownership of the footage or can the government imprison you for not handing it over or take it away from you without any compensation?

Boyd Ostroff December 23rd, 2004 05:43 PM

If you did shoot a plane getting shot down would your desire for personal profit stop you from offering it to the government to aid in national security? "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country." I suppose that's a hopelessly outdated concept in today's world...

Keith Loh December 23rd, 2004 05:44 PM

Yes, Boyd but those TV news networks are then profiting by showing the footage.

James Emory December 23rd, 2004 06:07 PM

Boyd. I knew that question was going to be asked. You know, that is a really good question but that is what we do for a living, just like the still shooters who document war and other tragedies. Those pictures on the cover of Time and Newsweek weren't gotten for free. The emergency personnel for all of this crap were getting paid with OT. I don't hold that against them.

What Keith said is true as well. Those networks are informing us but they ain't doing it for free and believe me, they are charging other agencies for the use of that footage, IF they choose to share it. As you know, exclusivity is the key to top ratings and that's the only thing they care about.

The question remains though, could the news agencies use that as a strategy to get the footage for free?

Richard Alvarez December 23rd, 2004 06:16 PM

Hmm,

Someone help me remember the Zapruder timeline...

He shot JFK's assasination on his 8mm camera...

Did he send it to the govt, or to Life magazine first?

The govt CONFISCATED the original negs.... and only recently returned it to the family... wasn't there a lawsuit involved in getting it back?

This is a similar concept no? I just can't remember the details.

James Emory December 23rd, 2004 06:18 PM

Great example Richard.

You know I wouldn't mind as much if the government got it and it really helped give them the answers. I just would not want those news agencies to be able to get it for free. Now that ain't fair!

Rhett Allen December 23rd, 2004 06:25 PM

Boyd - Do you really believe ANY news channel airs anything because they have the interest of the country at their hearts? NOPE! It's all about ratings and advertising dollars, nothing more.

As for the initial question, I am not sure how that would work but from a few friends I know who do some freelance news shooting, it happens pretty fast. They have the numbers to major networks they can deal with directly because then it gets passed down to local markets. (unless it's a minor local event)
If you had something like an alien landing you could probably get a very good price for it because the networks know if they turn you over to the government it will disappear and they can't show it either. (I bet you could get millions from "The Inquirer" for it)

Remember the 9/11 pentagon building crash? Did you know the plane flew past about 20+ surveillance cameras (traffic and other). The government came by and collected (confiscated) the tapes (even from local convenience stores) and none has ever made it to your local television.

Public domain is a relative term.

Personally I'd play fast hardball, tell them first XX dollars gets it exclusively, but then it depends on how big the event is as to how much bargaining power you have. The more experience you have also helps you learn "WHO" to talk to and when.

Pete Bauer December 23rd, 2004 07:41 PM

I'm neither a journalist nor a lawyer, so my comments fall squarely in the category of "layman opinion."

The 5th amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees, in part, "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." It isn't that the government can't legally take your property, but rather you must be compensated justly for it. However, the US government and subordinate governments have before, and will again confiscate personal property without any compensation. (In other words, "So sue me," says Uncle Sam!). In such a case, though, you could probably fight the good fight in court once the government gave your exclusive footage to the commercial media for free...I'm sure a good lawyer could help you claim a pretty high dollar value based on the major media use of your footage. Just got to get the court to agree! ;-)

I suppose I make sport of bashing the media as much as the next guy, but I've also been in countries where a free press doesn't exist. Sometimes we forget the value of the media until we read articles such as this one:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/...in575343.shtml

I don't really have a problem with news people doing their job enthusiastically and wanting to get paid for it. I'm a doctor and I get great joy from helping people get well and live well -- but I still expect my employer to pay me for the work I do. Any of you rather not be paid for your work, no matter how much you may enjoy it?

So, if I was in that position, what would I do? I'd do what I wanted with MY copy and contact the appropriate government officials to turn over "their" copy to them.

If I felt it SHOULD be seen by the public, I'd get a copy "out there" before giving a government official the opportunity to declare it secret at his/her whim. And yeah, that can happen FAST!

Personally, though, if I did perceive it to be harmful to release the video, I wouldn't do so...but then, anything financially I'd get out of a deal like that would be a windfall, not my next paycheck or a stepping stone in my career. Not saying it would be right to put people at risk because of such a situation -- I think newsies that do so violate their own purpose as created by our constitution and legal system -- but I can understand the additional pressure.

But, I'd always keep my "ace in the hole" copy!

James Emory December 23rd, 2004 10:56 PM

Thanks Peter. I'll refer to your post in court when my time comes.

Richard Alvarez December 24th, 2004 09:43 AM

I seem to recall in the Zapruder case, That Life had the rights to the images, and sold them around for a while, the government kept the negative as part of the "Investigation". If I recall the case correctly the Zapruder family was suing for the just compensation of the negative, and the govt was claiming they could simply pay for the cost of a roll of film. Then the suit became about the value of the images... etc. etc. The family finally got them back from the govt in the end.

Hayden Rivers December 24th, 2004 02:47 PM

<<<-- Originally posted by Richard Alvarez : the govt was claiming they could simply pay for the cost of a roll of film.-->>>

Unbelieveable. You'd think the US government could afford $1-2 million to keep the negatives and appease the Zapruder family.

Pete Bauer December 24th, 2004 05:46 PM

Hayden, I think its not a matter of appeasing them, but rather fairly compensating them for something of great value that the government took from them (all that eminent domain stuff).


Hey, most importantly, Merry Christmas to EVERYONE!

Dylan Couper December 25th, 2004 03:30 PM

Hayden, James, and Pete
I pruned all our recent posts out of this thread just to clean it up so we can get it back on track. I'd have emailed you about it (as we normaly do) except you have your emails turned off (except Pete).

And yes, I made a copy of your posts. :) Feedback noted and appreciated.

Thanks guys!

James Emory December 29th, 2004 04:00 PM

I have good reason to be concerned about news agencies. I have had one to pull a fast one on me before after I gave them the details on a breaking story. They said, "we're just going to send a crew to cover it" and offered me 50.00 for any of my footage used. That is bullsh!t! Well, they just cut their own throats because they will no longer be the first in line to be called if at all when something goes down and I will not hesitate to remind them of that. These folks have strategies and will do anything they can to get something for nothing.


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