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Re: Making a video for a client who plans on using it to sell (commercial use)

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Mark Suszko
Re: Making a video for a client who plans on using it to sell (commercial use)
on Jun 2, 2017 at 7:51:52 pm
Last Edited By Mark Suszko on Jun 2, 2017 at 7:53:09 pm

You are getting paid under the system known as "work for hire". That means, you get paid for the initial work you did, but nothing further; the guy that paid you has bought the use of it from you for the one-time fee. That's kind of standard except where there is a different agreement in a written contract. Without a written contract, Work for Hire is the default a judge would decide in the USA.

Whatever it is you want out of these projects, if you want a continuing piece of his action when he sells the finished products, then you need to write up a contract for that, specifying the percentages and amounts and the payment schedule, etc. This situation of yous is very similar to my first business deal in video marketing: We made a video on how to cook deep dish pizzas from scratch, from a kit of ingredients supplied by my customer. The customer sold the video along with the kits to restaurants that wanted to get into the deep dish pizza business. We took a small amount up front, with a contract that said we'd get a percentage of each unit sold. What I didn't find out until later was that the client was making and selling more copies of the tape without telling us about it or giving us out cut. It got ugly, we had to go to small claims where we won and cleaned out his bank accounts to make up the shortfall.

The only reason we won though was that we had it in writing, exactly how the deal was structured, and we had proof the contract was real because some money had already been exchanged and was traceable. Contracts, to be valid must pass three tests, and that money changing hands, called "consideration" is a major test of if a contract is valid or not. It doesn't need to be a lot of money. This is why you see scenes in movies and TV of a lawyer asking the guy for a dollar to make the contract "binding". Sometimes, a dad will sell his kid the family car, again, for a dollar, to make it a valid transaction legally.

Getting back on track with YOUR situation, you could estimate the most that this guy will make, and base your one-time fee up front off of that - it makes for a clean transaction and little work afterwards. But you may guess wrong.

I don't know what your faith tradition is, if any, but I'm partial in these instances to point to the Gospel of Matthew, ch 20 verses 1-16. It's the story of the vinyard owner who hires some workers to harvest the grapes in the morning for an agreed wage, (work for hire) then hires more people later in the day. The Owner, at days' end, pays everyone the same wage, regardless of time put in, and this outrages the guys that worked all day who see the ones that worked only an hour at day's end got a sweet deal. The owner asks the upset guys: "Did you get exactly what we agreed?" They admit yes, they did. "Then", says the owner: "How and how much I pay the other people is my business, not yours." There are about twenty layers to this parable that refer to all manner of issues, (specifically, that God's redemption was for everyone, not just the Hebrews) but some days, I just like to look at that surface story and point out that getting upset that someone else got a great deal, when you were yourself treated fairly, is just jealously and not righteous.

Make the squarest deal you can with this partner, get it in writing, prove thru check writing and cashing that there was consideration of any amount you want, just to make it legal. The contract or deal memo should detail what will happen when, how much goes where and to whom, and how the deal can be broken or ended, and who owns what when that happens. Tell him it protects you both and avoids messy arguments when the rules are written in advance of the game.


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