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client wants raw footage

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dewan edwardsclient wants raw footage
by on Nov 19, 2008 at 2:28:56 am

A month ago a client asked me to convert the promo dvd I did for him to a flash file to place on their website. I gave him a price for the conversion as I thought I should get some form of compensation for this. I never got an email back. I don't know if I asked for to much or if I made a mistake of asking for anything at all. I received another email recently asking if I could send there web designer the raw footage as he wants to edit somethings for the website. If they want the raw footage fine, but I believe I should be able to get paid for my tapes. This is my real first client and first time dealing with something like this. What is some normal steps that one would take in a situation like this. I thought of just asking them of what they wanted and do it for them at a fee as I already have the footage.

I could use some advice



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Mark SuszkoRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 19, 2008 at 4:55:43 pm

The time to set your policy is before these jobs happen, and the time to tell the client is befoer the project starts. Afterwards seems to the client like you are making stuff up and making excuses. They tend to makea lot of assumptions unless you lay down the rules up front. This guy asssumed once you made the product, the additional flash encoding should be free, for example.

If you have not been paid for anything but they want to see raw footage, give them raw footage with a time code window burned across the top right third. This is good enough to review and make decisions, but is proof against piracy of your work.

I may be cynical, but it sounds like they want to rip you off and not pay. If you cave in easily, you will always be their punk and never get their respect... or more importantly, their money.

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John Grote, Jr.Re: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 19, 2008 at 5:15:33 pm

My question to you is, did they pay you for the shoot? As long as they paid for the shoot, they own those tapes. Now if for some reason, they owe you money for a file conversion or something else, then you have some collateral. If not, other than charging a fee to ship the tapes back to them, what do you expect or think you are due? Did you have contract stating that the tapes are owned by you and there would be a fee to release them?

The way I see it if you are paid by someone/company for a shoot, those tapes/footage a property of the client, unless other wise stated. This goes for work tapes, submasters and masters that have been created in the edit suite. You need to charge for these at the time of service and not months after the edit.



J. Grote, Jr.

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Bill DavisRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 19, 2008 at 8:17:29 pm

I'm not an intellectual property attorney, and since I'm not, I'm not qualified to provide any legal advice on this matter. However, I believe that ownership of the rights to video footage are more complex than this discussion might lead people to believe.

Ownership often hinges on whether the job was "work made for hire" or not. That is a LEGAL definition under title 17, and has a lot of aspects that aren't obvious.

If the work WAS classified as such, then yes, the ownership rights typically vest in the commissioning party. However, if the work was NOT done as work made for hire, then the "creator" of the work holds those rights intrinsically unless subsequent arrangements are made.

Personally, I treat ALL work I do for my clients as WMFH=. And I gladly send masters or work tapes or whatever to them if and when they request it. But as another poster indicates I ALWAYS charge for my time and work and this status applies only after their bills are paid in full.

Just be careful of listening to advice about "rights" from anyone other than those professionally qualified to weigh in on such issues, or you can find yourself faced with very nasty surprises.


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Mike SmithRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 20, 2008 at 9:44:27 am

Smile sweetly, tell the client you are happy to send copies of source material, but you will have to charge for the tapes and transfers. You delivered what you were contracted to - they paid you. Now they want more. They are not working for nothing - and they are lucky if you haven't wiped or reused the tapes - there will be a lot more of that as solid-state location filming media become more widespread.

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dewan edwardsRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 22, 2008 at 5:16:01 pm

Hi all. I was contracted to shoot and edit a promo vid that was orginally suppose to be 5 min then was changed to 15. I did it with no extra charge as I wanted to get some gigs in just starting out. I believe the contract stated the tapes would belong to me. I have had some personal health things come up so I haven't checked to make sure. I will try to see I can perform what the want at a fee, if not I will charge them to send the tapes out.


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Robert SmythRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 23, 2008 at 9:08:17 pm

An easy way to avoid all this is to determine what the "deliverables" are before the project begins... what will YOU hand off to the client for the project to be considered "complete".

I'm with Bill though... its actually better, I think, if you treat the tapes as theirs... that way you can give them the tapes, and when they lose them 6 months later, its not your fault and you'll get another shooting gig!

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Stephen SmithRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 26, 2008 at 4:21:03 pm

It sounds like you have already lost the client. Making them mad will make sure you lose them as a client forever. Take the high road and you will be surprised to find out how many clients will eventually come back

I've found that most companies retain the rights to the tapes. Every time my family gets a picture taken by a professional they always retain the rights to the "negatives". I've personally found that it is easier to just let them have a copy of their footage and move on. You got your first gig and they got a video, you have a stepping stone to the next big gig.

Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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John BaumchenRe: client wants raw footage
by on Dec 8, 2008 at 4:06:30 pm

Unless your agreement with the client SPECIFICALLY states that the job is a "Work For Hire", then you as the videographer own all copyrights to the tapes, (or negatives if you are a photographer). The client only gets the final product, finished video or prints. They do not own anything else.

Absent any specific language in the contract stating who owns the material, it is the person who creates the work that owns the rights, i.e., the videographer/photographer.

If you are employed by a company full time to do video work, then the company will most likely own the footage unless there is an employment contract in place that says otherwise.

I find it amazing that people on these forums who are professionals don't know the laws that have a significant impact on their business and potential for profitability.

I would suggest that if you have any questions regarding copyright laws, to check out the link below. It's your lively hood and you should be aware of your rights.

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nick edgarRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 11, 2010 at 6:28:35 am

im curious, as we are having dilemas with some footage at the moment, the man i question took video footage of a street art festival, and subsequently has alot of people on tape that do not want to be identified, for their own reasons, he was not hired and did it as a voluntary action for the festival, and has not been forthcoming with the raw footage, and now after 6 months and us now starting to badger him, he is dragging his heels and will not give us the tapes to veiw, but rather his (edited?) version. do you have any idea where we stand? this is potentially a volitile situation, and want it sorted but with out seeking legal help ,are not sure of the first step...?

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grinner hesterRe: client wants raw footage
by on Nov 27, 2008 at 7:52:38 pm

I just drop it in a bag and call a courior.

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Tracy PetersonRe: client wants raw footage
by on Feb 9, 2009 at 6:25:24 am

I'm all for protecting your rights, but there's a time to fight and a time to just be a friendly neighborhood video dude.

This sounds like one of those times. If they want to hand it off to someone else, let them. Fighting for your rights, when there's little payout, simply isn't worth it.

If they owe you money, withhold the tapes, but if they don't, the only way this can go if you don't, is to piss of your only client. If you have lost them, like you think you may have, at least you can get a good reference.

Tracy Peterson

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