I have created a generic TV commercial that I want to license to dentists in separated local cable markets. Because the ad is made completely with stock footage, I don’t think I can copyright it. Is there some legal mechanism that will allow me to protect/register the ad so that I can license it out? The only thing I can think of is to register a detailed script of the commercial with the Writer’s Guild. Any thoughts?
Depending upon the agreement you signed when buying the stock footage, you may or may not be able to use it as a syndicated spot. I use Pond5 footage fairly often, and their agreement states something about it, although I'm not a lawyer:
b.Licensee may provide access to Licensed Content to no more than ten (10) Authorized Users either sequentially or simultaneously, provided that such access is used solely for the purpose of creation or reproduction of Works for Distribution made by or on behalf of Licensee. If more than ten individuals will have access to the Licensed Content, or if Licensed Content will be used in Works not authored by Licensee, additional licenses must be purchased.
Now the above looks to me as if it might pertain to what you're talking about, but I strongly suggest that you contact the legal department of the stock footage company you're using before you try to protect it as your own. You most certainly should put Metadata tags in the production, as well as put a watermark on it, once you establish just how it can be used.
I still have no new info about copyright/registration of my commercial, but I did receive some feedback from Pond 5, (yes, that’s the company I’m using too), regarding the clause of the license agreement that you cited, and I thought you might find it useful.
“The clause about the Licensee providing access to no more than 10 Authorized Users, is referring to access to our raw, unmanipulated content that you download from Pond5. That clause is to prohibit buyers from uploading content to an office intranet to make it available to everyone in the same company.
The work that you create with the Pond5 content, which is the "Work for Distribution", may be distributed as widely as you wish, and can be viewed and sold as part of a "work for distribution" an unlimited number of times. “
Thanks Tom - that's good to know. So it sounds as if it should be no problem for you to sell a syndicated version of the spot you've created. But be careful to watermark it so that it won't get ripped off while you're marketing it.