Who owns archived footage
by David Ferguson on Feb 19, 2014 at 5:58:06 pm
Hi folks, I have footage going back 6 years for a client and their annual conference. The brief was only ever to create a final piece of the conference. They now want all archived footage, which I have kept, but not at their request, for another company to work with what I consider to be 'my' archived footage. In addition to this, for reasons too long to go into here, the client defaulted payment on one of the middle years, so we fulfilled our brief without receiving any payment.
Now the client has relocated I wont be doing anymore work for them, and whilst I'm happy enough to release most of the footage for an admin fee to collate and transfer onto a HD for them I am reluctant to pass on the footage for the year I didn't get paid for, or let the opportunity pass and not get paid for it.
Where do I stand legally for any of this? Do I own all the archived footage, can I request that any future use would include me in the credits?
Re: Who owns archived footage by Mark Suszko on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:40:20 pm
You might want to google or wiki "Walmart vs. Flagler" Similar case to yours.
The main take-away: absent a written agreement on the disposition of the raw materials, they only own the master, and they can't have your raw tapes... BUT... you can't sell those to another client. What Flagler ended up doing was offering a library where journalists and researchers could come peruse the collection of internal Walmart videos, but nobody can commercially air them without Wally's permission, which isn't coming. Ever.
Kind of a stalemate.
If I were you, I would offer the old client a "buy-out" option to buy all their old stock off of you to own free and clear, for a one-time fee.
1) Client must settle the unpaid bill before any discussions can take place - after all, it is unfair of them to ask for footage when they haven't even paid for the masters.
2) By all means, no one else including you can use the footage so you might as well pass it to the client for a technical and administration fee. In the old days one would get residual payments each time the footage is used, however that is impractical for the client and you to manage. So go for a one off fee that is high enough for you, and small enough for the client to agree to it.
3) Do remind them that you continue to hold the copyright on the filmed footage and should rightfully so be credited on any future videos that have your footage included - i.e. don't let another production company take the honours for your work.