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Waving copyright

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Nicolae Ciobota
Waving copyright
on Feb 20, 2013 at 5:05:08 pm

hi i never came accross a agency asking me to wave all my copyright and intelectual propertry on my footage i filmed, all the files i generate be it animation, graphics and video edits.
i m not sure about it because if i give up all my rights i can be subject to abuse?
in such if i create a graphic for this agency and than make a similar looking animation they can sue me for copyright infrgement?
also they are asking me for the source file for final cut and after effects.

any advice appreciated

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charles meadows
Re: Waving copyright
on Feb 20, 2013 at 6:14:10 pm


Waving copyright is pretty standard fare where we are. If you have produced a video for an agency or a client then the copyright belongs to them as they've paid for it. Waving your rights to the footage shouldn't infringe on your rights to film and animate in your style, even if you create an animation that looks similar, you just won't be able to use the particular footage you did for them without their written consent.

"There's no point in filming if you don't have fun"
Charles Meadows
Creative Director
Incubate Productions South Africa

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Bill Davis
Re: Waving copyright
on Feb 20, 2013 at 6:34:52 pm


Lawyers (including the ones who work for our clients) are there for one reason and one reason only. To protect the rights of their clients the best they can. One way that is manifest, is that when you get a contract, the commissioning parties legal team has often written in legal terms that grant EVERYTHING in ALL circumstances and FOR EVER to the commissioning party.

It's just the way things have evolved. Their job is not to protect your rights, it's to secure the rights of the client.

So you generally have two choices.

A. Accept their conditions and do the work, and take the money.

or B. Become an equally powerful party to the negotiation and therefore gain the leverage to change the terms more toward your favor via contract modification.

Generally, that's pretty rare. So you're left with either playing by their rules or not playing.

I find some solace in this reality.

As the works' fundamental author - I've exhibited the proven ability to CREATE valuable content out of ideas and effort. Even when THIS project is gone, you'll still be left with those skills and abilities. So in a sense, you'll gain personal value on each project you complete which is NOT tied to the files you send them or the rights you relinquish to any work. (In fact, typically, that work will age and often become obsolete!)

Your skills, on the other hand, will simply continue to evolve and improve.

And eventually, if I can become good enough, the market will reward THAT and you'll possibly acquire the power to modify the terms of future deals.

For what it's worth.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Nicolae Ciobota
Re: Waving copyright
on Feb 20, 2013 at 7:13:39 pm

hi and thank you for the insight but it is slightly more complicated. we have given this agency huge discounts, have not charged for media or storage.
we have not even thought about copyright and intelectual property.

one thing we re definetaley not prepared to sign is that the agreement is retrospective. that can put us out of business because if the request all the material we shot for last two years it will take us months to transfer.

we re not only been in business for 28 years but also we own high end equipment.

i never been asked before to sign this kind off agreement.
it does not look right to me as they ll be having all the power at our expense.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Waiving copyright
on Feb 20, 2013 at 8:41:15 pm

The client is asking you to contract as a work for hire, meaning you WAIVE your rights to anything to do with the footage once you've been paid: all ownership becomes the client's. This is fairly standard stuff.

Retrospectively? No. Don't do that. See Walmart Vs. Flagler Video.

Work for hire is assumed in US practice unless any kind of contract in writing exists to the contrary.

The fact that you didn''t budget for expenses and under-charged them is a problem, but not the client's problem. In the future, you'll have the contractual language spelled out in advance. But now you have a choice to negotiate a one-time buyout price for all the materials and settle things.

If you don't come to an agreement, you own the shot footage and your edited master, but you won't likely have the right to peddle them anywhere else but to that client. The client can get nothing, or everything.

My non-lawyer advice is to pick an amount that you can live with, sign over the footage, and settle. Get this behind you and move on.

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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Waiving copyright
on Feb 21, 2013 at 9:20:46 am

As much as you should give your client the final production, this may not necessarily involve the source project files and materials.

For-example if you're contracted to deliver a video production, and you have delivered the video, including signing over the copyright. It is in my opinion entirely OK for you to say to the client that the project structure and execution is proprietary to your workings, and that to disclose those would have an adverse impact on your business not included in your contract for producing a video.

Where on the other hand, if the agency hired you to make an FCP project and After Effects templates, then you should hand those over for them to have.

The Devil is in the Detail.

All the Best

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid

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Bill Davis
Re: Waiving copyright
on Feb 21, 2013 at 7:49:46 pm

[Mark Suszko] "The client is asking you to contract as a work for hire, meaning you WAIVE your rights to anything to do with the footage once you've been paid: all ownership becomes the client's. This is fairly standard stuff.

Not sure Mark,

Presuming the OP is in the US jurisdiction, in the absence of any signed document to the contrary, the provisions of US Code Title 17 should apply...

And that clearly specifies that the rights to any creative work belong to their "creator" unless otherwise agreed.

Essentially, without a written document to the contrary, there is no presumptive "work for hire" relationship.

(Anyone with specific legal training or more up on modern case law, feel free to correct me, but this is the way I've known it for my entire career.)

Now it's absolutely true that you risk blowback and reputation if you contest ownership rights, but if they're TRULY being obnoxious about wanting the moon, the stars, and a pound of flesh to boot - and you don't feel that you somehow agreed to provide them with all THREE in your original discussions, then I suspect the OP does have at least SOME legal standing to withhold creative source material she feels isn't part of the actual deal.

(Also, OP, remember that the moment you send them anything beyond the finished work you feel they are entitled to by virtue of the original agreement - including any source files or original art - it's GONE. You can't get it back. So be careful.

I'd work hard to find common ground with them. But if you've been in the industry this long, the presumption is that you know the difference between an incompetent or pushy client - and one that is actually being completely unreasonable.

Good luck and let us know how things shake out.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Nicolae Ciobota
Re: Waiving copyright
on Feb 21, 2013 at 8:55:37 pm

well said Bill well said.
this is a pushy client. in fact is not tge client is a director they appointed recently. she loves power and she is trying to excersize it.
they are being more thsn unreasonable they are bullying not just us but graphic designers and other suppliers.
i think is end of line but they might back off as i have some legal training and they trully need us

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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Waiving copyright
on Feb 23, 2013 at 4:22:51 am

Just as a matter of course, I would not even consider providing any of your working projects (After Effects templates, Premiere Pro projects, Photoshop files, etc.). Number one, the client no doubt doesn't even know of their existence; number two, they don't deserve to have them, and they'd just take them to the next poor sap who wants a job worse than they want the headache which will come with it.

I think you need to tell the director to walk east until her hat floats, then inform the client of her unprofessional behavior - there's no place for that in any professional field.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media

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Paul Trunkfield
Re: Waving copyright
on Feb 21, 2013 at 11:34:19 am

Hi, If you have had a good working relationship with this client and they ask for all the source material i would tell them that you would be willing to do his for them but due to the length of time it will take to transfer it (months) then you will have to bill them for it. Mention the huge discounts you have already given them and that you would like to continue working with each other in the future.

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Nicolae Ciobota
Re: Waving copyright
on Feb 21, 2013 at 12:48:29 pm

hi and thank you all for the great advice. is much appreciated

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Mike Smith
Re: Waving copyright
on Feb 24, 2013 at 12:35:26 pm

The client cannot impose anything on you after contract - retrospectively - and if they want you to sign something now about work already completed or under way then they likely know that your contract / agreement does not include what they are asking for. But of course you want to be nice to your client as much as you can - though not at the cost of giving away the store.

If you supplied footage or programmes as contracted and they now want the source files, my own inclination would be not to supply, and certainly not at no extra cost. The only reason they could want those is to build on or modify your work without paying you for it: if not contracted to, why would you help with that?

Any change of terms - new signature - would have to be acceptable to both parties.

So you could smile and say no, not in our agreement.

If they want extra from you, you can either supply it at extra charge to cover the additional work and materials in copying or supplying masters as well as the additional intellectual property rights not contracted for, or simply not agree to the change of terms. Or you could you could tell them what extra costs they are causing you and extra rights they are asking for, but offer them as a freebie.

This may limit your chance of more work from this client.

And perhaps it was a mistake to give the huge discounts and not to charge for media and storage ...?

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