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Copyright...who owns the footage

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Kevin Gonzales
Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 9, 2010 at 2:01:14 am

I do a ton of corporate video where I am the producer/director/editor. If a client hires me to make a video for them and those are my roles, I technically on the rights to the video, correct? Is there any documentation on this I can pull from. Quite hard to find.

thanks;

Kevin Gonzales
http://www.12point.net


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Noah Kadner
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 9, 2010 at 3:52:05 am

I'm not a lawyer but ownership is typically defined in your contract. If you get the rights to your footage it should be spelled out. If not, generally speaking on works for hire the person paying keeps the footage. You would certainly not be creating the expectation in the average corporate client that when they hire you they are giving you the rights to their footage.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Stephen Mann
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 9, 2010 at 6:47:47 am

Copyright law is pretty clear on this. (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap2.html).

Generally, you own the work unless it is a "work for hire" or if you transfer the rights to someone else. Work for hire is also well defined in copyright law. If photography is your primary job then the work belongs to your employer. If you are a secretary and your boss asks you to videotape a meeting, you own the work since it's not your primary job. If Acme Plumbing hires you to videotape a commercial for them, unless your contract states otherwise, you own the work.

Steve Mann
MannMade Digital Video
http://www.mmdv.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 12:09:43 am

This subject is virtually NEVER as simple as your post might imply.

While yes, you may be considered the AUTHOR of the work and as such have certain rights to your implementation of that material - that does NOT in any way imply that you are the sole and exclusive owner of that work.

For example, if your work includes shots of their branding elements the corporate logos, signage and/possibly even the architecture - the corporation will very likely will retain ALL rights to those and by protecting those rights can make your video impossible for you to use or benefit from.

Further, if your footage contains images or sounds related to their facilities, processes or business practices they may have a perfect right to claim YOU are in violation of THEIR copyrights even inside of a work YOU personally created.

This scratches the surface of why copyright issues are commonly SPELLED OUT in any agreement worth the paper it's printed upon when you do work for any legal entity such as a corporation.

Assuming "work for hire" OR assuming your efforts are NOT "work for hire" nearly always puts you on a slippery slope. And you can be assured that nearly any serious corporation has the financial and legal resources superior to yours and can make your life a living hell if you decide to push back on your ownership of work you've done on their behalf.

My advice...

Be very careful here.



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Noah Kadner
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 12:47:49 am

Yeah- please clarify what you want to do with this footage that you haven't given us enough information to determine whether you own or not.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Kevin Gonzales
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 1:23:32 am

The client wants me to take some shots of a product they have, produce and edit a piece, and then turn over all footage to them for future B-roll use. My issue would be more so over pricing. I've read some copyright articles that state if YOU are the author of the work you are the owner of the footage. If I am to give up all the footage and not just turn over an edited piece would I be justified in charging more for giving up those rights and footage?

Kevin Gonzales
http://www.12point.net


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Noah Kadner
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 2:52:51 am

Hmm- in that case I'm not so sure I see where you're coming from. I mean you're shooting for an edit yes but if you turn over the raw footage in the end they're still paying for the same thing i.e. your time to collect that footage. It wouldn't exist if they hadn't paid for your production time. I suppose you could float a higher fee for that stock footage buyout rights or whatever but as I client I might feel somewhat double-charged if it's more than say 10% of the whole budget.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 3:55:45 am

You might want to google"Flagler V. Walmart".

Bottom line is, stipulate who gets to keep what BEFORE THE JOB, ON PAPER, otherwise, you have little to say and the rights default to the general practices. You are performing a service as well as generating a physical product. You have to spell out what it is they are paying fore in advance. If a work for hire, the deal is they pay you and they own everything and you own nothing. If not specifically a work for hire, you own the rights to the raw shots, they own a copy of the final edited product they paid for, but you may not be able to make any profit from their raw footage without the client's permission, which you won't get anyway if you're reduced to this argument already. Stalemate at that point.


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Scott Cumbo
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 6:25:46 pm

You also need to consider if you want to work with the client again.
If i hired you than was told no if i asked for the source footage that i paid you to shoot. I would simply never hire you again. No matter what the contract stated. Simple fact of life, there are 20 people in line looking for the work, and only 5 of them will complain
about handing of the tapes.

As and editor I've compied entire projects (project file and media) because a job had switched producers and they wanted to work somewhere else. Saying no just won't keep the work, it'll just make sure they never come back with anything else.

Scott Cumbo
Editor
Broadway Video, NYC


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Mark Suszko
Re: Copyright...who owns the footage
on Dec 10, 2010 at 8:29:00 pm

Scott, you're absolutely right, but sometimes, that's not so bad a thing in the long run... with some clients.


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