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Rob McWilliamsrights!
by on Mar 17, 2008 at 10:19:55 pm

Say you produce a corporate video. Who retains rights to field masters, edited master and graphical elements? Producer or client after final payment?


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Greg BallRe: rights!
by on Mar 18, 2008 at 2:51:53 pm

Usually the client, unless you've made an agreement with them otherwise.

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John BaumchenRe: rights!
by on Mar 18, 2008 at 9:56:33 pm

Some information I found on the web regarding this subject.

The owner of a copyright is the author unless the work is prepared by an employee or by an independent contractor as a work made for hire. Where a work is created by an employee, the employer is the copyright owner. Where the work is created by an independent contractor as a work made for hire, the person or company that hired the independent contractor is typically the copyright owner.

Work for hire is a concept of intellectual property protection outlined in Section 101 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In most cases, the person who creates a copyrightable work—such as a story, poem, song, sculpture, graphic design, or computer program—holds the copyright for that work.

A copyright is a form of legal protection which gives the holder sole rights to exploit the work for financial gain for a certain period of time, usually 35 years.

In contrast, the copyright for a work for hire is owned by the company that hires the person to create the work or pays for the development of the work. The creator holds no rights to a work for hire under the law. Instead, the employer is solely entitled to exploit the work and profit from it. The concept of work for hire is different from the creator transferring ownership of a copyrightable work, because the latter arrangement allows the creator to reacquire rights to the work after the copyright period expires.

There are two main categories of copyrightable materials that can be considered works for hire. One category encompasses works that are prepared by employees within the scope of their employment. For example, if a software engineer employed by Microsoft writes a computer program, it is considered a work for hire and the company owns the program.

The second category includes works created by independent contractors that are specially commissioned by a company.

In order to be considered works for hire, such works must fall into a category specifically covered by the law, and the two parties must expressly agree in a contract that it is a work made for hire.

"If you show up to a job where somebody tells you what to do and when to do it, and for that you're rewarded with a paycheck, then your work product is classified as a work for hire and you don't own the copyright on it. Instead, it automatically becomes copyrighted in the name of the company," Michael Bertin explained in the Austin Chronicle. In the situation of independent contractors, he added, "There are two criteria for works for hire. It has to fit into one of nine specific categories, and there has to be a contract stipulating that it's a 'work for hire.' If one of those two elements is missing, then the work in question is not, repeat not, a work for hire."

I should also point out that I am not a lawyer and this should not be construed as legal advice.


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John BaumchenRe: rights!
by on Mar 18, 2008 at 10:11:27 pm


Here is a website of an article written by an Attorney on the subject as if you were doing the hiring of a work for hire contractor.

I think it sums it up pretty well that a work for hire has to be a specific agreement.

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Philip HowellsRe: rights!
by on Mar 28, 2008 at 10:41:08 pm

Those of us who work in an international environment also need to remember that copyright law varies from country to country. This makes clear an explicit Terms of Business even more important.

That way we make it clear that our client gets copyright only in the programme material and anything else we shoot or create remains ours.

We've had this since the incident some may recall when a still photographer doing a day's work for a local authority in California heard a bang and simply as a reaction snapped a 727 that had collided with a Cessna or some other small plane crashing in flames. The dramatic pictures were syndicated around the world and earned the local authority thousands of dollars - the photographer got his day's fee.

Best regards

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