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Retaining Publicity Rights

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Retaining Publicity Rights
on Aug 1, 2007 at 4:29:25 am

This is one of those questions that I don't even know how to ask correctly. So let me know if it doesn't make sense.

I'm negotiating a video production contract with a corporate client. I want to retain the right to use the promotional footage I'm creating for them as a demo on my own site or on dvds I may distribute. Now one would assume that a company PAYING to place this material would want all the free publicity they can get. But the contract they've offered specifies a work-for-hire arrangement and doesn't explicitly grant rights for my promotional use.

Does anyone know of a good resource (or better yet, actual verbiage) for this type of clause? Also, do these rights have a specific legal label, like "Promotional Rights Clause"?

Thank you for the help!

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Re: Retaining Publicity Rights
on Aug 1, 2007 at 5:18:57 pm

First of all, you really should have your own contract rather than using your client's contract. There is just no way under the sun they will be including the language you absolutely MUST have to protect yourself against a wide array of situations that come up all the time. Does their contract make clear what they are getting for their money? Does it cover how many revisions they get before having to pay extra? Is there a specific end date so they can't drag the project on for months without additional pay? Make sure your rights as an artist are fully covered before agreeing to use a client's contract!!

As for the promotional use issue, just spell out, as clearly as possible, that the client agrees you can use the work for promotion. There is no specific or exact legal language required, as long as the intent would be clear and obvious to any reasonable third party (which is usually the benchmark for contractual validity). Here's what we use in our contract:

CLIENT agrees that PROJECT may be used in part or whole by PRODUCER for the purpose of promotion and demonstration. CLIENT may request that PROJECT not be used in this manner before the contract is entered into.

It's straight forward, clear and has never been met with resistance by a client yet. I should add that at the beginning of the contract CLIENT, PRODUCER and PROJECT have all been specifically defined to make passages like this short and easy to read, yet legally sound and detailed/specific in nature.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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