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LifePrints Video
Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 28, 2007 at 10:51:04 pm

A warm Mooooo to all

We finished a small 8 minute project for a non-profit (good cause) and were paid in full. The client is asking for some minor changes and is willing to pay for those as well.
BUT they are also now asking if it would be possible to get the raw footage from us and we're not too keen to do that.

For the 8 minute final product we put in 3-4 two hr sessions of multiple location camera work/lighting and the contract we drew makes no mention of the raw footage one way or another.

Any ideas? Are there any rules of thumb? Etiquette?
Thanks and happy holidays


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walter biscardi
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 28, 2007 at 11:03:54 pm

They paid for it, they own it, plain and simple. The only exception is if the contract specifically states that the Production Company owns the footage. This is extremely rare.

If you did the work completely for free on your own dime. You have an argument to say you own the footage.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR
The new Color Training DVD now available from the Creative Cow!

Read my Blog!


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SRoughan
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 11:21:01 am

Hmmmm.
I would say they they paid for an eight minute video cut together from differant location shoots. Thats what they got.
Who said anything about about raw material?
Here in Germany, I own my footage. They customer gets what we agreed he pays for. Raw material costs extra.


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walter biscardi
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 12:03:53 pm

[SRoughan] "Here in Germany, I own my footage. They customer gets what we agreed he pays for. Raw material costs extra."

That's completely different than how I have worked for over 17 years in the U.S. and different than anything I've heard in the U.S. The client paid for a full production which resulted in the 8 minute final video. This includes all the raw material that was shot to create that 8 minute video.

The Production company does not own the raw footage. The client who paid for that production time owns the raw footage.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR
The new Color Training DVD now available from the Creative Cow!

Read my Blog!


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 2:50:01 pm

This is another shining example of why contracts are so important.

We mostly produce television commercials, and our contracts always include verbage stating that the client owns the final production to air/broadcast/distribute as they wish, but that is all they retain ownership of. We retain the ownership of all raw footage.

To take it a step further, our contracts stipulate that while the client owns the final production, they only own it as a whole and do not own rights to the elements that make it up; i.e., they can't take it and cut it up, reedit it, or use its footage elsewhere.

That stems from on incident where we saw some of our footage on the air, taken from inside one of the commercials that we produced to make a different commercial. The biggest problem there was that the footage contained several actors, all hired by us for the original production only. Additional agreements with those actors and their agents would have been required for that footage to be used. The client either didn't know this, or didn't care. They do now.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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SRoughan
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 3:13:35 pm

Yep, sorry Walther.
What Todd said. We produce mainly commercials too, and they get the end product, and the end product only.
Do you give over your project data as well? Just interested.
Gr


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walter biscardi
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 3:41:30 pm

[SRoughan] "Do you give over your project data as well? Just interested."

We do not give over the Project Files. Only the raw media.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR
The new Color Training DVD now available from the Creative Cow!

Read my Blog!


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Chiahawk
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 6:25:10 pm

I'm with Walter on this one. When the client pays for the production (day rate,gear rental,travel expenses,tape stock etc..) it's understood that the footage belongs to them. I've never known the production company to own the footage unless it was stated in the contract. At least not here in Atlanta. CH


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nicholas spencer
Re: Who owns footage?
on Apr 30, 2010 at 7:00:22 pm

im a film makers who used to work with a young film maker in mansfield, ive worked with him for a few years and ive made 3 films with him, all the time we have used my cameras and my equipment, recently we have had a few differences and parted company, he used to do the editing and on the last 3 projects has writted the scripts which i slightly change in filming, he has put the footage on youtube and i have recently had it moved by them, he claims he owns the footage not me, even thou it was fimed by me on my cameras and using my steady cam and equiptment,he uses the equipment also to get coverage with me why filming, the name on the films was a name i came up with and have used, recently i have built my own web site and out of friendship allowed my web designer to add his name, he hasnt paid towards the cost of the site or the payment of the web site name, he also thinks he owns this, ive totally removed his name and my web designer has told me its my web site my payment and he owns nothing, its cost us both to make these productions, can anyone help, ive contacted equity and im also contacting a solicitor, please give advice


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Spike Allibone
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 4:26:08 pm

Watch out guys! Here is the gen from Night Train.

If you didn't make the cameraman sign a release form, then it is actually this person that owns the footage since he (or she) is the artist behind the lens. We know this because we have fallen for this one in the past - and it came to legal blows!

Obviously, as far as the client is concerned, you, as the producer of the whole piece owns the footage - and this is correct since the cameraman worked for you. So, provided you sew up the deal between you and the crew by making them all sign a doc that releases the rights of the work to you then you are home and dry and have the right to do a deal with your client. And basically make this a rule that everyone on any project in the future signs one. Gotta be like this now.

It doesn't matter what the client paid for - if there is no documentation allocating ownership of the footage to them then you own it. It is the same intellectual copyright law that applies to photographers and other artists.

If you give to them without restrictions there is absolutely nothing to stop them taking it to another prod co for further editing. One may be chilled out about such things in certain circumstances, but you should at least know the official line. I know I am right - coz we've seen what can happen!

To save on legal bills, try and "steal" a release form template off the web - or mail me and I will see if I have any ready to go generic text for this purpose. It is a fairly standard doc.

Regards

Spike

Spike Allibone
Managing Director
Night Train Productions Ltd.

11 Dublin Street Lane South, Edinburgh UK EH1 3PX
w: http://www.nighttrain.co.uk/


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jaru22
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 5, 2007 at 7:42:19 am

OK, Interesting topic and obviously lots of different opinions. Thought I would toss this in. I will leave the specific names of the companies and individuals out to protect the innocent.

I am of the belief the(my opinion/research) creator of the content owns the footage unless a signed agreement/contract states otherwise. With that said check this out.

A company hires me to shoot some broll footage of my city to roll in on their live broadcast. I wonder around get some nice stuff and they use it out of a live remote truck. Now that company leaves town. The tapes/footage are left behind or recycled. It was a one off thing. Here is the twist.... The tape guys in the truck clip off all the shots onto their personal reel. Then every time a new group comes into town the tape guys offer up my shots to them for use. They then go ahead and use my shots going to and from breaks. Uggh!
I have told them over and over that they(the tape ops) are infringing on my copryright as I shot the footage and it is my footage. They argue it is not mine and actually the company that hired me owns it. So, I say either way, whether mine or theirs, it is illegal for them to have and use the footage as well as the other companies. They laugh as if I do not know what I am talking about and continue to keep my footage on their reels and offer it to others for use.

Normally I do not worry too much about stuff like this and consider it the price of business. But, my argument to them is that if they offer up these beautiful shots to everyone else that comes into town, then those companies will just rely on that and not hire anyone to shoot stuff for them. Ultimately I end up shooting these shots once a year in the spring and then end up seeing them the rest of the year on many different broadcasts.

My experience is not alone. I know for a fact that in my circle of broadcast the happens daily around the country to many people. Standard practice by live remote truck tape operators.
Thats my story, not sure what I can do about it though. I tried to contact copyright infringment people and they basically said I have to sue to get any results. Which would mean if I did that it would be the old saying
"you'll never work in this town again"

If anyone wants to respond to this or has some thoughts, I would love to hear them...Thanks!







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Spike Allibone
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 5, 2007 at 11:12:49 am

Prepare a document with the quotation that you hand to anyone that hires you.

In it state that you own all footage unless otherwise agreed (because you do) Quote the cost - and add a different cost for a buyout (watch for re-sale clauses etc - perhaps a chat with a copyright lawyer wouldn't go a miss - he'll bill you though!) In any case, it is a good idea to be clear on this stuff before you get the camera out the bag.

FYI My previous post on this matter might be worth a read. Basically if you don't do what I'm suggesting here, you STILL own this footage unless your client makes you sign something to the contrary. All TV & prod cos should be wise to this now and make you sign something first. IE They should be prepared to pay your buyout rate straight away. If nothing is signed in any direction you can, if you want go to a lawyer and issue a "cease and desist" kind of thing, and hand it to anyone who is selling your footage on. You will succeed in stopping your problem until a settlement is reached. There is a difference between suing someone and warning them.

In the future, if a client asks you to sign their doc instead this is at least good because this brings ownership out in the open and you can attach a price to it. If they don't bring anything out at all then you basically have the upper hand. And there is nothing to stop you both signing each other's (provided of course they agree!).

Do sort this out - it 's the most professional thing to do. Anyone ignoring this issue now can easily be seen as a sloppy operator.

Why not try sending those tape guys a repeat fee invoice? They are wrong when they say you don't own it. You do.

Spike Allibone
Managing Director
Night Train Productions Ltd.

11 Dublin Street Lane South, Edinburgh UK EH1 3PX
w: http://www.nighttrain.co.uk/


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Spike Allibone
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 5, 2007 at 11:17:00 am

Forgot to mention!

We are in the UK. Makes a difference, as copyright law is quite different in the States and elsewhere.

If you hate copyright - go to Russia apparently!


Spike Allibone
Managing Director
Night Train Productions Ltd.

11 Dublin Street Lane South, Edinburgh UK EH1 3PX
w: http://www.nighttrain.co.uk/


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 6:29:14 pm

Dorit,

My understanding is quite different than those who have posted replies so far. This same question of


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Arniepix
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 9:45:13 pm

Back when I was a freelance newspaper photographer, I owned all rights to anything I shot, even if it was on assignment with all expenses paid. The only exception was if there would have been a work for hire agreement. The only time anyone ever asked me to sign one, I talked him out of it.

And this was important at the time, because I made thousands of dollars reselling a shot that had been assigned to by the New York Times.

If you don't have a contract or other agreement giving ownership to the client, ownership stays with the creator.

Arnie

Now in post: Peristroika, a film by Slava Tsukerman

http://www.arniepix.com/blog


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LifePrints Video
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 29, 2007 at 11:04:19 pm

This thread is getting very interesting.
I don't have the exact wording of the cotract here right now, but I think we charged per finished minute. No travel, or equipment expenses were passed on to the client.
Might this thread morph into a place for sharing contract forms with others? Would folks feel comfortable doing that? we can obviously toss out specifics and keep it generic.

Thanks so much for all the info and good debate
Dorit


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Steve Wargo
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 12:44:09 am

I spoke to my contract/intellectual property lawyer about this a while back during a big legal battle here in Phoenix.

W-2 = The employer owns it. Let's say you work for GM in the video dept. When you shoot anything for the company, they own it because, in effect, they own you while you are on their payroll. Same as if you work for Motorola and you discover the secret to Iridium on company time.

1099 = You own it. GM hires you, ABC Video, to shoot footage for a production. And here's where it gets sticky: If someone hires your company to shoot footage, you own the footage. If you hire a guy, you still own the footage because you were the photographer of record, not the college kid you hired to hang from a rope in a poisoned well.

The "Work for hire" contracts give the copyright to the person doing the hiring.

In other words, I believe that you own the raw materials. Now, here's a catch 22. Did you bill for the tape? If so, they own the tape and what's on it. We NEVER bill for tape when we feel that the footage might be handy to own in the future. We bill for storage of raw footage.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.


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Shane Ross
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 5:30:34 am

Our contracts actually state (from History Channel and Discovery) that all source materials, including camera masters, but not including stock footage purchased from a third party or shot prior to the production, belongs to the network and they demand as part of the deliverable ALL the masters.

The company paid for your camera crew, paid for the tape stock...that was in the budget...therefore they own the master footage. This is why many productions do not want to buy cameras or edit gear for productions using budgeted funds. Because legally, ANYTHING bought with those funds is property of the company providing those funds. Office supplies, staplers, stickie pads, tape...all of it. So many companies, even though the production really loses money by renting cameras and systems, that is all part of the production budget. This is why often companies will have separate companies that own the post equipment, and rent that to the production. This is VERY common out here.

So...I am with Walter. Unless you have a contract that states otherwise, the client owns the footage, because they paid for the acquisition of it.



Shane


Littlefrog Post

GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD now for sale!
http://www.lfhd.net


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walter biscardi
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 12:26:12 pm

[Shane Ross] "Our contracts actually state (from History Channel and Discovery) that all source materials, including camera masters, but not including stock footage purchased from a third party or shot prior to the production, belongs to the network and they demand as part of the deliverable ALL the masters."

In my case with the original animations that are created, the network even owns all the graphical elements and original characters that are created for each one.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR
The new Color Training DVD now available from the Creative Cow!

Read my Blog!


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 1:15:03 pm

I find that many people have a hard time understanding what a "copyrighted work" is and what can and cannot be classified as a "copyrighted work."

Steve Wargo's lawyer supports my view/understanding of copyright. If you bill for the tape, the client owns the tape. And probably gets the copyrighted, recorded image that comes with the tape. I'm guessing that the selling of the tape implies selling of the image too. BTW: thanks for the tip, Steve.

I believe the analogy of "purchased office supplies" is the same as "purchased copyrighted images" is false. Office supplies are "things" that do not fall under copyright infringement. The packaging design is copyrighted and the things themselves (paper, ink, etc.) may have patents, but the products/deliverables themselves do not fall under the criteria of "copyrighted works." Copyrights and patents are different things.

From what I've read in some of these posts (and please forgive me if I'm wrong) it seems like some people and their clients are confused about the difference(s) between "breach of contract" and "copyright infringement." As I stated earlier in my post, I believe the client needs to have a "Work for Hire" agreement/contract signed in order to obtain copyright from the artist who recorded the image. Having a "Work for Hire" agreement/contract allows you to sue for "breach of contract" vs. copyright infringement. If the Work for Hire states that the client owns every single thing, then they will own every single thing when you sign it. If you don't deliver what you say you will, then you have breached your contract.

Copyright infringement is a federal offense and requires federal courts to process. Breach of Contract can be processed as a local/state offense, and thus does not have to go through the federal court system. It's A LOT easier to sue for breach of contract than it is for copyright infringement. Get contracts so that you can go through your local courts vs. the federal court system.

Once again, these are all just my opinions.

Bruce


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Steve Wargo
There's more
on Nov 30, 2007 at 3:19:45 pm

Now that I've thought about it, there's more.

Here's what the lawyer said: If I shoot a job for Xerox, I own the copyright to the images. They own the rights to use the images forever and into perpetuity. I do not own the rights to USE the images, only the copyright of the images. (Crystal Clear ??? in my book.) So, what we own is a completely useless copyright, but a copyright non the less.

I'll give you some background on the court case: A fellow, John Smith, owned a video production company and decided to sell it. A person that I know, Tom Jones, became interested, looked at the books and decided to buy the company for $150k. This included all of the usual junk cameras, an FCP edit system with pirated software, and a library of 600 BetaSp tapes from jobs and a great client list including a famous beer company. The new owner sent letters to all of the clients saying "Hello, I'm Tom and I'm your new video production company." EVERY client wrote back and said "No you're not. And we want our tapes". This is where the copyright/ownwership issue came up. The clients were billed for the tapes so they owned them. The copyright of the images remained with the original production company owner who had no right to use them for any purpose. On the tapes were many celebrities and actors. No one had the right to use their likeness for anything other than the original contracted use.

I was brought into the case as an expert witness. The question to me was "What is normal as far as the copyright?" Here is how we have always treated even before I knew anything about copyright. We have always considered the footage as owned by the client and if they needed additional work done using that footage, we charged them the normal labor charge and nothing extra for "images". If they want their tapes, we hand them over. We do not give them the job files without a good reason. That is our creative work and the client is paying for the finished animation only, not for a lesson on our secret way of doing things.

Some of my collegues in the business have done otherwise. They have charged clients an additional fee for use of the images. They immediately lose the client because the client then demands their tapes that they rightly paid for.

On to the usual question about reel footage. You must get permission to use their images on your demo reel to commercially promote your video company. I always do this with tape rolling when possible. On our website, we have a demo reel from some HD jobs. On it are clips with Jamie Farr, Rick Schroeder and Senator John McCain. While tape was rolling, I asked the producers and the actors if I could use a portion of the footage on my demo reel. This is a legal and binding verbal contract.

Of course, any contract that is written, overrides anything else except for one thing: The copyright is not transferable from the original copyright holder. The lawyers told me this quite firmly. But let me remind you that it is a useless copyright because you do not have the right to DISPLAY the images. Whoever PAID has the right to use the images FOREVER and if you billed them for the tape, they own the tape.

Here's a question for you. What about the images captured to hard drive? That's why we charge for image storage. They simply can't have the original storage device so they now have to provide a transportation medium. Quite often, when I write the job proposal, I include a hard drive, usually an external, to store their job on. And later, if they want it, it's theirs, except for the perviously mentioned process files.

Note: I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. My lawyer did, however, tell me that I could quote their findings, to others. I specifically asked about the COW.

I am going to go back to him and ask him to write a page on this topic so we'll all have it in the future. I'll have him bill Ron directly. They are the top intellectual property law firm in the state.

As for the outcome of the court case, the new buyer ended up paying the old owner about $100k total just to see the whole thing dissapear. He sold the computer to one of his employees for $200 and gave the rest away after sending out as many tapes as he could to their owners. Had I known, I certainly would have advised him against buying any production company. They're simply not worth anything, as many of us know. After all, it's all about the people and you can't sell people. At least not any more.




Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: There's more
on Nov 30, 2007 at 7:43:19 pm

What your lawyer said didn


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Raymond Motion Pictures
Re: There's more
on Nov 30, 2007 at 8:54:34 pm

[Steve Wargo] "Here's what the lawyer said: If I shoot a job for Xerox, I own the copyright to the images. They own the rights to use the images forever and into perpetuity. I do not own the rights to USE the images, only the copyright of the images."

OK. But obviously, their rights of use don't extend to what doesn't exist. Your place burns down after the completion and delivery of the production they hired you for - now what? "Owning the rights of use" is not ownership, otherwise your fire is really going to cost you. The content producer owns the copyright AND the rights of use which he grants only to the client. If that weren't the case, archiving anything for a client would be a time-bomb.


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Steve Wargo
Re: There's more
on Dec 1, 2007 at 7:17:37 am

Both posts by you and Bruce make perfect sense to me. I am going to go over this with the lawyer again in case I misunderstood something along the way. The "work for hire" clause certainly sounds correct and sensible.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.


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LifePrints Video
Re: There's more
on Dec 3, 2007 at 7:46:52 am

Does this mean that despite having copyright to the content of the tapes we shot, we are obliged to give them up to the clients so they can hire someone else to re-edit a new project for them in the future?
The original contract between us was paying per finished minute. We gave them an 8 minute project and we accepted payment for 4.5 minutes...


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LifePrints Video
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 8:54:13 pm

Continues to be verrrrrrrrry interesting! Thanks Steve. No, we never billed for the tapes and I doubt this issue would ever reach a hostile place with the non-profit. We delivered a very nice little project for close to nothing for them.


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Christopher Wright
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 10:14:09 pm

We just had a seminar for documentary film-makers here with an entertainment lawyer, and she emphatically states that unless you sign a "work for hire" contract, the videographer owns the footage. It is the same rule as applied to still photographers, there is one fee for shooting, and another (much steeper) fee to get the negatives along with the shoot. Thus the "paying for the tapes" argument can be seen as "releasing the negatives." I always reserve the right to use ANY of my B-roll footage shot on locations in any of my future productions, or to sell as stock footage, and also reserve the right to use ANYTHING I have shot to be used as evidence of DP skills on the web and my demo reels. Anybody with deep pockets can win anything in court, as Steve Wargo points out, but that is why a clear contract from the beginning makes the only sense, and I will not shoot for anyone, ESPECIALLY non-profits, without a clear contract and understanding of who owns the footage I shoot. When I have shot for Canadian PBS, American Masters, U.S. PBS, National Geographic and other national broadcast clients, I of course hand over all the footage after the shoot and always ask (and have always been granted) permission to use clips from the finished project or show on my website and in my promotional materials. I am usually given a high quality version of the finished show gratis anyway, which also has me listed in the credits according to my contribution to the projects. I can feel the original poster's pain in working with non-profits, as I have worked with many of them for very little or free, and they want to take the Masters and pay someone else to edit the raw footage. That is where I definitely draw the line. Bottom line, always have a contract in place to protect your work and images.


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LifePrints Video
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Nov 30, 2007 at 10:34:06 pm

Hi Christopher and all
In a previous response I asked if it would be possible to share some generic contracts, but nobody followed up. Is this a touchy subject? I'm just not sure if it is or isn't. Perhaps I'll start a new thread. What do you all think?


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 4:20:59 am

The problem with posting contracts is that laws vary state-by-state and country-by-country.

I might help offline, but I wouldn't publish my own companies contracts publicly on the internet for several reasons. The most important is that I don't want someone using it and then blaming me for whether or not it's enforceable in their location and situation.

The reason I pay an attorney isn't so much for drafting the agreement, but rather drafting an enforceable agreement AND standing behind it and being able to knowledgeably defend it if, or when, the time comes to debate the agreement in court.

In my opinion, Bruce Bennett hit the nail on the head with his answer. I have shelf full of books about copyright law (for both video and music), but if I have questions about copyright law, the first place I go is http://www.copyright.gov, to pretend I


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Christopher Wright
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 7:14:51 am

Still photographers also have a professional association that backs them up and gives them legal recourse if someone reprints their work without permission. Most wedding videographers also belong to this same association and abide by its tenets and rules. Maybe that is what we as DPs and "videographers" need as well! ;>) I also can't remember the last time a producer or director I worked for had control over lighting, camera placement, whether to dolly or not, composition, etc.. Those are my responsibilities as DP, as well as the overall artistic look of a film, the film stock used, HD format required, lens selection, etc. They hire me for that kind of expertise. Most producers I work with get all the minutae in place for the production, and the directors work closely with the actors. But again, that is one definition of actually being a "DP" versus being a "videographer." In my DP work, any interaction with a director is highly collaborative, they aren't just hiring a "video guy" to cover a speech.
As was mentioned previously, a "template" contract would never work, as each job is different, and every client has different needs.


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AlexHuber69
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 5:22:45 pm

Dunno what gigs you've been working on, but--

[Christopher Wright] "can't remember the last time a producer or director I worked for had control over lighting, camera placement, whether to dolly or not, composition, etc.."

Not the producer, of course, but the director should always have control over camera placement, camera blocking (dollys, etc.)... There are exceptions of course, especially with directors who are just very actor/story driven (Woody Allen, etc)., but in the rest of the world the director takes care of those things. The Spielbergs call their own shots, camera blocking, etc.---

A very good DP can have a very heavy responsibility in helping the director craft a look of a film, and they are always welcome to suggest camera blocking, camera moves, composition-- and some are heavily relied upon, especially by directors who don't like to do it or find that is not their forte. However those things are the director's call. In the strictest sense, a DP is just that, the director of PHOTOGRAPHY-- and is reponsible for lighting and recording the director's image on film. I've rarely been on film sets where the DP had the call on camera blocking, composition, movement, or even lens selection-- other than to say "this is the lens that will effect that field of view." Those are the director's jobs.

I'm not knocking either directors or DP's-- I have worked as both-- sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes as both at the same time. But they are two very different jobs. Good directors already know what camera blocking, dolly moves, crane moves, and composition they want. It then becomes the DPs heavy responsibility to make those look good photographically.












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Steve Wargo
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 7:26:26 am

[Timothy J. Allen] "because most laypeople don


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 5:02:42 pm

Steve,
Yes, those are fairly common descriptions of those job titles. What complicates it as far as copyright law goes - even if the people working on the project agree on that description of their respective roles, the descriptions don't nail down who the creator of the content really was, it just shows that it was a collaborative effort. So - how do you divide the money from the intellectual property ownership?

Some could argue that it's the Editor that "brings all the elements together" on the tangible expression of the product - which is actually the only thing that can be copyrighted anyway. This is especially true if the Editor contributes his or her own "creative expression" to the work, rather than just assembling an EDL. (That argument isn't that strong if the final product is a clear expression and result of a Producer's or client's "vision".)

It occurs to me that copyright protection is probably a key reason that film jobs have been traditionally divided up into such specific roles in Hollywood, where there is a lot of money at stake when it comes to questions regarding who is the "creator" of the tangible expression fo the product.

None of it think that it's the duplication house... do we? ;-)



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Rennie
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 8:19:17 am

[Timothy J. Allen] "have a Producer and Director picking the shots for them and directing the lighting, models etc. It


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 2:57:35 pm

[Rennie] "Advertisements, promo videos, music videos, movies are all like dreams, and who ever 1st conceives the original vision owns copyright. Just because we film it and add our visionary skills in lighting and composition to it's creation doesn't over ride the original creators copyright. If we script it, storyboard it, and create the overall concept, then we own copyright. In many situations this is a joint creation between you, the technical creator and the client."

I think this is an area where many people do not understand what can and cannot be copyrighted. I believe your statement is probably false since ideas, dreams and concepts are not "things" and are NOT considered copyrightable works. My lawyers said that in order for a work to be copyrighted, it MUST be in a form in which it can be reproduced/duplicated. Dreams, ideas and concepts are not "works" -- they are dreams, ideas and concepts. The idea or concept needs to be written, sketched, painted, etc. in a physical form that can be reproduced (i.e., script, storyboard). No physical form = no copyright.

This goes back to my original statement that people must understand that composing an image is NOT the same as creating/recording something that is physical (i.e., negative, painting, tattoo, etc.) in which the physical image can be duplicated/reproduced. It must be a "finished work" in order to be copyrighted, and he/she who creates the finished work (not the idea or concept) owns copyright.

Bruce


Bruce Bennett,
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC - http://www.bmmp.com


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Raymond Motion Pictures
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 3:41:23 pm

[Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI] "It must be a "finished work" in order to be copyrighted, and he/she who creates the finished work (not the idea or concept) owns copyright."

A 'finished work' can be a single sheet paper describing the idea or concept and that can be copyrighted. A patent is not all that different, whether or not it sees production.

If a screenwriter uses the idea to create a script - another copyright is created. If produced, another. But if the concept guy is not paid, neither copyright is 'clean.'

An old trick for protecting a concept was to have it notarized, put in a sealed envelope and mailed to yourself and left sealed until the day you need it in court. (Better than an NDA)





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weymar bozo
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 1, 2007 at 7:37:51 pm

An old trick for protecting a concept was to have it notarized, put in a sealed envelope and mailed to yourself and left sealed until the day you need it in court. (Better than an NDA)


Just my 2 cents that doesnt work in court. The best way is to spend the money and copyright it. Then again I am not sure concepts can be copyrighted.


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Raymond Motion Pictures
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 2, 2007 at 4:10:48 pm

[weymar bozo] "Just my 2 cents that doesnt work in court. The best way is to spend the money and copyright it. Then again I am not sure concepts can be copyrighted."

Practically, anything can be copyrighted - for $35, they are not checking for originality. The synopsis (concept) for a movie can be copyrighted. Most people don't go public with their concept ideas - for good reason - they get stolen.


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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 2, 2007 at 6:36:33 pm

The "tangible expression" of the concept can be copyrighted, but not the concept itself.

For example, I can't copyright the letters of the alphabet, but I can get a trademark for a font that I designed. (the tangible expression of those letters)

The issue introduced is "how broad does that protection cover the concept"? A large portion of intellectual proerty lawsuits are about that issue.

Obviously, it would be ludicrous to enforce a protection of any "circle representing a 'close-mid back rounded vowel', but you could enforce your typeface representation of the letter "O", if it doesn't infringe on other's intellectual property protection filed for the letter "O" as represented in their font or typeface.

With me so far?

I could copyright a script about "a man who escapes his captures and goes on a quest to prove his innocence", but unless I'm very specific about how the story plays out, I'm not going to be able to claim infringement by any of the hundreds of other treatments and scripts with similar concepts. The more details you include, the better protection you have, but the more you paint yourself into a corner with your concept. The key is having a clear vision and being able to express it well enough so that people can easily identify your concept as unique.


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Raymond Motion Pictures
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 12:37:08 am

[Timothy J. Allen] "I could copyright a script about "a man who escapes his captures and goes on a quest to prove his innocence", but unless I'm very specific about how the story plays out, I'm not going to be able to claim infringement by any of the hundreds of other treatments and scripts with similar concepts. The more details you include, the better protection you have, but the more you paint yourself into a corner with your concept. The key is having a clear vision and being able to express it well enough so that people can easily identify your concept as unique."

Right.

OK. Real world. The AFLAC Duck idea probably started with their ad house - a perfect solution for a company nobody could remember. Client likes the storyboards and okays production. Need for a copyright at that point? I doubt it. What would it protect - a talking duck? Good luck defending that concept...

More to the topic - who owns the raw footage? 99.9% of the time - who cares? - it's unusable for anyone but the client. What about that footage of a happy couple? If unsure, shoot another happy couple - if you can find them...

Bottom line: a copyright or a patent is only as good as the amount of money you (or the other guy) are willing to spend to defend it.


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Rennie
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 2, 2007 at 8:42:47 pm

Hi Bruce
I was just making the point that the originator of the idea should own copyright. In most cases an author will write a book which may eventually be adapted for the screen by a screen writer, A writer may write a script for a play or a movie and a creative team at an ad agency may create a concept for an ad. These are professionals and they cover their butts so they get paid. The average lay person working at charity doesn't know how to cover their butt however they still deserve the copyright to their own ideas.

Most of us on these boards know that if we are having a coffee and get a vision and think OMG! this would be a perfect idea for Apple Computer!... and it's right up their alley too! The 1st thing we won't do is call Apple and tell them about it. We would have to script it and pitch a synopsis to them. We could even go so far as to film a mock up. If they liked it, most likely we would not be the ones filming it, they're going to use the big boys.

We would have 2 choices, sell them the script or go to our local ABC computer store and see if they are interested in sponsoring the shoot on a break even scheme so you can shoot and use the video in your list of credits and they can run it on their web page and maybe run a local commercial and play in their store.

The point I'm trying to make is the originator of the idea should get copyright for it but of coarse they would need to script it first. By telling anyone first you release it into the public domain.

In the case of the original poster I'm trying to find out who provided the concept. It could be the charity did but lacked the knowledge to script it therefor have left themselves open to have that deserved credit taken away.

On the point of original camera tapes, in the digital world it is easy enough to make digital duplicates. If a client wants to take them elsewhere for more editing they will find out no one can do it any cheaper or efficiently than someone who has already been immersed in the footage already during shooting and editing of the previous project.

I'm not advocating they surrender these tapes if they feel this was never part of their original agreement.


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 3, 2007 at 5:39:12 am

Rennie,

I agree, originators of concepts should get copyright. And believe me, being a director and writer, I really wish it was the case. But unfortunately, copyright is pretty specific and the rules don


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Richard Boyd
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 3, 2007 at 5:44:50 am

When a client comes to us to produce a project, we quote a price - for a finished project. The client gets a finished tape, or disc, or file, whatever, and that's it. Anything that our company acquires, makes, films, records, etc. during the production process belongs to us, not our client. If you buy a car from Ford, you don't have a right to the machinery Ford used to make the car.

On the other hand, the client paid for the finished project. It's theirs to do with as they see fit.


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Bob Russell
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 5:13:18 am

Unfortunately, I don't have any real answers to this but yet another question. I generally have clients that want a short promovid but they have no vision of what they want. Since most of my work is for the Web, I use a license agreement that stipulates I retain copyright, I have permission to use finished product for self promotion, and they have license to use finished product, in its finished form. They're not allowed to re-edit and create derivative works. So far this has never been an issue, everyone has been happy with the finished product and go merrily on their way.

However, I just had a large corporation ask for ALL source materials. Since most of it was custom work (AE, 3D stuff) and can't be used elsewhere, I don't have a problem... except, portions of the videos also use royalty free and stock footage which I am licensed to use to make the clients video but I don't believe the client is licensed to use to make their own re-edits etc.

My thought is to give them the source materials that I created and a list of the Royalty Free clips and vendor and inform them they must purchase their own license for those items to be able to use them legally. Am I correct in my thinking on this?




Bob Russell
PromoBuilderBob
PromoVid Productions


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Arniepix
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 1:57:23 pm

If you read the license for most stock footage collections, you'll see that it's typically licensed to you for use in your productions for your clients. They tend to specifically prohibit re-editing that stock footage from those finished pieces into other pieces.

Arnie

Now in post: Peristroika, a film by Slava Tsukerman

http://www.arniepix.com/blog


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Mike_S
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 2:43:36 pm

If it wasn't part of your contract, and the work is now completed, you could just say no. Or you could say yes, that will be $xx extra, I'll get you a quote, and of course it won't include 3rd party material like stock shots ...

Additional clauses or requests wanted by the client after contract is agreed and in this case after the work is done would require your acceptance (or rejection), and there's no reason not to charge.


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Randy
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 4:14:30 pm

Bob Russell wrote: "My thought is to give them the source materials that I created and a list of the Royalty Free clips and vendor and inform them they must purchase their own license for those items to be able to use them legally. Am I correct in my thinking on this?"

I have an extensive Digital Juice stock collection of animations, video, sound effects, music and so on. Almost every project I work on has some Digital Juice content in it so how would I ever give a client any of these stock elements which are only licensed to me if they requested it? Some of these stock elements are modified by me to the extent that the original stock content would be useless to them anyways.

I certainly don't want to direct my client to the Digital Juice website and show them what I paid for each stock element in their production and how many graphic/video/audio elements were actually used. Besides all of these stock elements are sold in large content library-type packages and not individually.

Randy


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 4, 2007 at 5:23:24 pm

[Bob Russell] "My thought is to give them the source materials that I created and a list of the Royalty Free clips and vendor and inform them they must purchase their own license for those items to be able to use them legally. Am I correct in my thinking on this?"

I sure wouldn't do that. So, my vote is: "Nine, nada, nicht, nebbuh, no, no, no."

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
Publisher,
Creative COW Magazine


CreativeCOW.net
Paso Robles, California USA
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LifePrints Video
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 15, 2007 at 12:40:00 am

That makes total sense to me...


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LifePrints Video
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 15, 2007 at 12:53:29 am

"When a client comes to us to produce a project, we quote a price - for a finished project. The client gets a finished tape, or disc, or file, whatever, and that's it. Anything that our company acquires, makes, films, records, etc. during the production process belongs to us, not our client. If you buy a car from Ford, you don't have a right to the machinery Ford used to make the car.

On the other hand, the client paid for the finished project. It's theirs to do with as they see fit.
"
That's what I mean makes sense to me :-)


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walter biscardi
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 15, 2007 at 1:07:57 am

[Richard Boyd] "Anything that our company acquires, makes, films, records, etc. during the production process belongs to us, not our client."

That is completely opposite all the productions I have ever been a part of. All of our clients, all of the clients of the companies I worked for in the past, especially the corporate ones, want the raw footage to use in future projects or for archival purposes. They paid for the time and the tape stock, they own the raw footage.

Using your logic, The Carter Center here in Atlanta hires you to document the President and Mrs. Carter in Africa on a health tour of Ghana. You edit the project and deliver to the Carter Center a final DVD master of the project. Now you're free to do whatever you want with the footage of the Carters? I don't think so. I would think the Carter Center Lawyers would have a lot to say about something like that.

Using your logic, a major restaurant chain hires you to create a series of training videos. This involves you documenting how their restaurants work, how they move product, how they market and sell various items, everything that a new hire has to know, you document that. You deliver to this major restaurant chain a series of DVD's. Now you're free to use that footage from inside that company and use it as you see fit? Again, I think the restaurant lawyers would have something to say about that.

Using your logic, a Casino hires you to produce a 150 part training guide for the dealers that will cover all of the games. You have complete access to the training facility, dealers, the gaming commission and all the house rules for the games. You produce all of these videos and hand the Casino their 150 DVD's. Now you're free to use all of that footage showing exactly how that Casino deals and protects their games as you see fit?

I think you see where I'm going here. Those are three real projects. I would never even think about keeping any of that footage because I don't have that right. The client pays for the project, they own all of that footage. I don't have any perceived "right" to turn around and say that anything I shot belongs to me.

You're welcome to run your business as you see fit, but I would never recommend to anyone in this business that they are entitled to the raw footage just because they produced it. The client owns it unless otherwise specified.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

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Richard Boyd
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 15, 2007 at 4:19:10 am

Walter,

I understand your concerns. Here's the difference between your position and mine:

Even though I may own footage of Jimmy Carter, I don't have permission to use his image. The same is true in the other cases you mentioned. I agree, I do confidential work in the petrochemical industry and defense industry all the time. But, in my case, if the client wants a re-edit, or wants to do another project along the same lines, I have access to that material and my competitors don't. I don't want some other production house producing a project that I shot using my footage. That's the difference. I own my footage, the clients owns their name, image, and information.

If for some reason they insist on having the raw footage, I'm reasonable, but I don't give it away for free, unless the job contract specifically allowed for that up front. BTW I've worked for Fortune 500 corporations for 15 plus years using this arrangement and never had a problem.


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Dec 15, 2007 at 6:07:09 am

Walter is right on the money with his phrase "The client owns it unless otherwise specified."

Key words being OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. That's why we are careful that it is always specified.

Our contracts always carefully stipulate that the client owns the finished production to broadcast/present as they wish in its delivered form. The contracts also stipulate that our company owns the footage and elements (writing, graphics, animation, rights to voice talent, rights to on-camera talent, music rights, etc.). The verbage also stips that the client may not take a finished product and recut it or reuse it in another or different project.

We haven't been around nearly as long as some of the guys on this forum, but we have been around for ten years... and produced scads of industrials, maketing and training films, and literally thousands and thousands of broadcast commercials. Never even once have we had a client question our ownership. Only a few times have clients come to us and requested footage after the fact, and we have gladly sold them the rights to reuse and provided them the dubs they needed (under a new contract, of course). Most often they simply come back to us for additional production, during which they of course can use the previous footage at no additional charge.

That may not work for everyone, but it's never given us a lick of trouble.

Bottom line, if you want to retain ownership of the footage, make sure it is spelled out in writing in advance. It saves all the trouble and debate that has been going on in this thread.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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David Henthorne
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Mar 4, 2008 at 12:17:36 am

A previous poster stated his attorney said: I do not own the rights to USE the images, only the copyright of the images.

Let's say the client, for whatever reason, never pays for the work. Who would then own the rights to USE the images?

Since nothing was paid for (violating a written agreement), could the holder of the footage then do and use the images however they wanted to?



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Michael Brassert
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Oct 29, 2013 at 9:16:55 pm

Walter is entirely correct on all counts. I have been producing commercials for over thirty years and the AICP contract that we have been using for years clearly states:

5. OWNERSHIP Except as otherwise provided herein, all rights, title and interest in and to the commercial(s) which are the subject of this Agreement, including all copyrights therein as well as in and to all the exposed negatives, positives, out-takes and clips shall be the property of the Contracting Client.

Besides being fair this is just good business. The last thing you are going to want to do is start getting into a legal battle with your client over something that has little or no value to you. I would opt for a good relationship, give them their property, warn them about any rights issues, and keep the door open to more work and a good reputation.

And as far as I am concerned they can have my work product, project files, AE projects etc. even if not required. Ask yourself, if you were the client, who would you rather work with? Who would you give a referral to?



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tim vondrell
Re: Who owns raw footage?
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:57:56 pm

It's crazy what long time video professionals working with big name dropping clients DONT KNOW about copyright law. Ask a photographer! They all know! Clean and simple, if the contract does not state specifically that the client takes possession of the copyright, the creator, or the company he/she works for retains it. Simple. Anything to the contrary mentioned in this thread is only backed up by a specific contract stating certain terms. Good grief, just because you have a contract with company XYZ that says one thing, doesn't make that the law.


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