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How to deal with a problematic client

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dorit grunberger
How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:24:24 am

So this is the situation:
- We sent in a final cut of a project (currently 11.5 minutes long). The client wants it to be no longer than 9 minutes total. We agreed on subplots to cut out. So far so good.
- Our contract states very clearly that our company retains copyright on all source material we generate (i.e. original tapes).
_ The client has a new website and they want a 3 minute web version of the project - like... tomorrow. We patiently explained that this would not be possible for us to deliver quickly, as we're now involved in new projects.
_ At this point the customer requested the original tapes we shot so they can have someone else edit it. And now they became aware for the 1st time of the clause in the contract that the tape belongs to our company. We also tried to explain to them that it would take anyone else a much longer time to create a shorter version from the source material.
- We finally agreed on a 1 month drop-dead timeframe to deliver the 3 minute version to them.

This is all preamble for the following question(s):
1. We charge by the finished minute. It's going to be difficult to distill down their message to 3 minutes. In other words, there will definitely be creative work and just work-work involved. Should we treat this project as completely independent of the original one and charge our regular rates, or should we discount (since there are no more shoots, and we already have an 11.5 minute version from which to start?
2. They might actually want 2 more spin off projects from the original one that might be pretty straight forward (though they might find it too difficult to work with us, as we have found with them). Basically we'd have to change the introduction of the original project and split the original project in 2. What makes sense to charge in that case?
3. Our clients are non-profits and therefore our rates are incredibly reasonable ($800.00/finished minute).

I'd love feedback ASAP as we need to get back to them within the next day or 2.

Thanks in advance for reading through this saga.


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walter biscardi
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 2:33:02 am

[dorit grunberger] "- Our contract states very clearly that our company retains copyright on all source material we generate (i.e. original tapes). "

I don't agree with this clause at all. If a client pays me to produce a project for them and they pay for both the production costs and the tape stock, they own the original tapes. There are others on this forum who operate the way you do, but I don't think it's the right way to treat a client. It's their product, their tapes.

My guess is that this client will think twice about using your services in the future and look for someone else who agrees that the original footage is theirs, not yours.


[dorit grunberger] "Should we treat this project as completely independent of the original one and charge our regular rates, or should we discount (since there are no more shoots, and we already have an 11.5 minute version from which to start? "

If the 3 minute project is an add-on and not part of the original agreement, yes, you charge for your time. Either flat rate or by the hour, whatever you agree on.


[dorit grunberger] " 2. What makes sense to charge in that case? "

Your standard rates.


[dorit grunberger] ". Our clients are non-profits and therefore our rates are incredibly reasonable ($800.00/finished minute). "

Charging by the finished minute is not something I recommend to anyone. I have never done this and will never do this. Each project is unique. One project might cost me $100 for a finished minute while another will cost me $20,000 per finished minute. Each project is custom so each project is budgeted custom. I have standard hourly and day rates for each service we offer, but we do not offer any sort of "finished minute" rate. I would be out of business if I did.




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

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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dorit grunberger
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:04:06 am

Thanks so much for the input Walter

When we 1st started this business, we ignited intense discussion on this forum around the whole "who owns what" issue (I'm sure it wasn't the very 1st time that happened).
We decided to fall on the side of owning the raw footage. and our rationale was as follows:
1. We have very accommodating rates.
2. Our clients are on very tight budgets and need to know in advance what the cost will be.
3. The client pays for the final product we create. They do not pay for travel, any additional rental of equipment (only if there's a special lighting request) and most importantly, they do not pay for the tape stock.
The only way we can continue to produce is if we have control over the stock. Of course we can't and wouldn't use the footage for anything but the client's project, but it is ours to keep.
4. I totally understand about going out of business, because we wind up doing so much work that the per hour returns are questionable.
5. On the other hand, we are emotionally engaged in telling the clients' stories. In this case we're trying to help a hospice center raise more funds AND reach out to their community.
Final word: we're thinking twice whether we want to continue to give our services to this client since dealing with them has been very difficult (didn't get into it here).

Thanks again Walter.
Anyone else????



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Mike Cohen
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:33:02 am

what Walter said


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:40:25 am

[dorit grunberger] "1. We have very accommodating rates. "
Most important is that it accommodates your business model. McDonalds is quite profitable as are many gourmet restaurants. You just have to have a business model that ensures you'll stay in business.

[dorit grunberger] "2. Our clients are on very tight budgets and need to know in advance what the cost will be. "

You do this by getting a detailed description of what they want as well as a budget. You then tell the client what you can do within the budget. You can accurately control both production and post production budget. In addition you can allow the client to drop or add things a la cart.

Never charge per finished minute. That's like charging for the weight of a meal regardless of ingredients and complexity of the recipe.

[dorit grunberger] "3. The client pays for the final product we create."
And based on the description you should come up with a an estimate to keep within client's budget. If a client wants additions or changes to the project, you charge accordingly. I include a "change order" so the client can request and I can respond with changes in cost and they can agree or not. In the contract I spell out shoot days and post production days (including revisions). If things happen on my end to slow me down that's my issue. If the client does things to slow me down, they're eating their own hours and I let them know gently that request "x" will take approximately "y" additional hours.


[dorit grunberger] "4. I totally understand about going out of business, because we wind up doing so much work that the per hour returns are questionable. "

That's why there's a problem with your business model. You need to know approximately (or better still) exactly how many hours the client gets.

[dorit grunberger] "5. On the other hand, we are emotionally engaged in telling the clients' stories. In this case we're trying to help a hospice center raise more funds AND reach out to their community. "

There's nothing wrong with going above and beyond. Some may do it to add that bit of "panache" because you want it for your demo reel. Some may do it because they believe in the project. If the latter let your client know, you're donating or discounting hours. Show them an invoice and both of you will have a record of what extra you gave and they'll at least appreciate the extra you've given.

[dorit grunberger] "We decided to fall on the side of owning the raw footage."
I think there's nothing wrong with this and you did make it clear in the contract too.

If this client's 3 minute video is beyond one was spelled out as the final piece in the contract then the client has to acknowledge that it's their issue. Then you have to figure out whether you want to meet the client's belated need. You can make a separate contract for this. You can then work overtime, hire freelance (making this more expensive for the client, in effect a "rush" charge). You can offer the masters at a price. You can offer window dubs so they can do an offline elsewhere and come back to you for the online. You can "donate" the masters to them if you support the cause (or copies of the masters).




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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 4:01:55 am

I respect Walter's position on the ownership issue, but I disagree...especially if you've put it in writing. I think a lot of the work Walter does (and correct me if I'm overstepping here) is at the network level and the folks doing the producing are savvy enough to probably demand ownership of all materials. Even if that's not the case, there is nothing legally, ethically or morally wrong with taking the position that you own the footage, materials and the finished product.

Copyright law unquestionably backs this up, regardless of the many differing opinions on these lists. If a client wants ownership, all they have to do is ask for it as part of the project's contract. And if you've put it in writing in this contract with them, then they have no excuse to now be surprised about that fact.

As for editing a 3 minute piece out of longer piece and needing it "like tomorrow." I'll relate a recent client story for you.

We were editing a series of product launch videos for a large manufacturer. There were 5 videos in all. 3 (about 6-8 minutes each were complete, 1 (about 4 minutes and the most important module) was about half done. We didn't even have a script for the fifth video (about 4 minutes) and it was Thursday prior to a Friday deadline.

We had told the client on Monday that if we didn't have that 5th script by Monday afternoon, we couldn't get the 5th video done. We get a call from the producer at noon Thursday. The previously "most important module" was no longer important. The new "most important model" was the 5th video, for which we had just received a script (Thursday morning).

The producer was in a pickle. She was being told, "we MUST have the 5th video for this conference!" We COULD'VE told the client "no way." But we told them...ok, the only way we can get this edited is if:

1. We dump video #4 for now.

2. You and your brand manager come down here tomorrow. One will work with an editor in the suite cutting the video together. The other will work with a graphics person designing and laying out and proofing graphics. We got on the phone and got our VO talent (luckily in LA and 2 hours behind us) to schedule a voice session.

We also called a couple other clients and explained the situation and asked them to move non-deadline oriented edits. They did because they've ALSO been in these situations.

The clients arrived at 7:30am Friday, we worked til 5pm and BOOM...we had a finished video. We even had time for a 30 minute lunch delivered from Panera..PLUS we sent it out for review and revisions, which we did between 5 and 5:45. At 6:20, They walked out the door with 4 separate DVD's, and .wmv files uploaded to their FTP ready to drop into their presentations on Monday in Orlando.

We were heroes. Nobody worked all night. That client called the following Tuesday after a hugely successful product launch on Monday with about 4 NEW video projects!

I don't think cutting a finished video of 9 minutes down to 3 sounds all that taxing. We do it all the time, especially for use on the web, and it usually doesn't take us more than about a day, a day and a half or 2 max.

Should you charge it as a separate project. Heck yes...especially if it was never mentioned as part of the original deal.

As for continuing to work with the client...well...if you're not making money on the deal and they're a pain in the backside, then it's not really doing you or your business much good. When we deal with non-profits on tight budgets it's usually a joy because they're appreciative of reduced rates and of our candor in trying to help them with the marketing, which is usually not very well done.

They also usually let us do ALL the creative, so we tend to produce some of our best stuff with non-profits (conceptually at least since production budgets are tight).

Bottom line, you're in a service oriented business. You probably don't believe it, but there are probably a hundred, heck a thousand other companies that could do what you do and deliver a similar product. What sets you apart will be the service you give to that client. Doesn't matter what they're paying or how they treat you. You should treat every project as if it's your most important. You never know when that $3000 account is going to mushroom into a half a million dollar behemoth. We've seen it happen. And everytime the turning point was the service we gave them...NOT the quality of the finished video. I should mention we do quality work, but certainly nothing ground-breaking.

Hope that helps.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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walter biscardi
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 4:44:14 am

[Chris Blair] " I think a lot of the work Walter does (and correct me if I'm overstepping here) is at the network level and the folks doing the producing are savvy enough to probably demand ownership of all materials."

Nope. We do not have any contracts that specify ownership. There is an understanding that project is the property of the client. Most of our work is not for the network level at this time. We're doing a lot of documentaries now. But it doesn't matter if it's a corporate training video or a new series for a network, the ownership of any project rests with the client.

That's my business model and it's worked for me for 8 years now.



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

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:36:09 am

Walter...I'm not saying there's anything bad about using that business model and have said as much in many posts regarding this issue.

I've just never understood why it's ok from a business model standpoint for musicians, artists, photographers, software programmers etc. etc. to own the work they create, but many people in our industry don't believe it's ok for us to do the same thing...and equate it with professional suicide.

From our experience, this issue rarely comes up with clients, but when it does, it's typically in cases where a client doesn't want to pay for the work they've had done...or when they want to take a project elsewhere to save money. In those cases, it gives you a tremendous amount of leverage. That said...we have and do give footage to clients in certain circumstances. It all depends on the relationship with that client, payment history etc.

If you just put it in your contracts, it's virtually a non-issue, and in the few cases where we've had clients object, we point out that they cannot take photos, or music and use them any way they wish or in multiple print or multi-media pieces without paying for that usage. They pretty much have no leg to stand on at that point.

I think these forums tend to make a bigger deal out of the issue than it really is in the real world.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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walter biscardi
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:34:59 pm

[Chris Blair] "I've just never understood why it's ok from a business model standpoint for musicians, artists, photographers, software programmers etc. etc. to own the work they create, but many people in our industry don't believe it's ok for us to do the same thing...and equate it with professional suicide.
"


It depends on the work they are creating.

I have worked with musicians to create themes for events and corporate videos. In those, the client walks away with the music.

Photographers hired to cover an event as part of a video or shooting photographs to be included in the video. All photos are handed to me and then given to the client on DVD.

At my previous job at Foxwoods Casino, we hired a team to build a custom software database for our department. Foxwoods owned the software when the job was done.

As people have stated many times on this forum, technically copyright laws will stand up to your argument most of the time and you can keep the tapes if you feel you must. I just don't believe that it is ethical business practice to keep raw materials from a client who paid for their project.

Can they take those materials elsewhere and have someone else create something cheaper? You bet. But I've yet to have that impact my business in any way shape or form. Most often when this does happen, the client comes back for the next project because you do get what you pay for.

Now what I WON'T give to the client are the project files and metadata. Those are the property of our company because we were paid for our creative services. Those project files are part of our creative services. So I'll give the client all the raw media, but without the project files, anyone else they bring alone is starting at square one to recreate something.


[Chris Blair] "or when they want to take a project elsewhere to save money. In those cases, it gives you a tremendous amount of leverage. That said...we have and do give footage to clients in certain circumstances. It all depends on the relationship with that client, payment history etc. "

As soon as we receive final payment, we give the client the Master and all raw materials.


[Chris Blair] "If you just put it in your contracts, it's virtually a non-issue, and in the few cases where we've had clients object, we point out that they cannot take photos, or music and use them any way they wish or in multiple print or multi-media pieces without paying for that usage. They pretty much have no leg to stand on at that point. "

If that works for your business model, then that works for you. I don't have the need to put anything like that in our contracts or keep any raw materials from clients and it has worked ridiculously well for my company.

When I started in a spare bedroom 8 years ago I was $80,000 in the hole due to a failed partnership I had to help pay for and the cost of my first NLE system. Today we have three HD suites and should be purchasing land for a new facility in the very near future as we have badly outgrown our current space.



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

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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jamie thorne
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:40:31 pm

It seems that the industry is using less and less physical media in many cases.
What's the best practice when the project involves no physical media?


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 27, 2009 at 7:44:48 pm

[jamie thorne] "How to deal with a (lack of tape)"

[jamie thorne] "It seems that the industry is using less and less physical media"

This should probably be a new thread. Lack of tape is not a lack of physical media at all.
There's XDCAM disc and SDHC and other flash cards which are now in a similar price range. One can also back up to various optical discs (DVD, DVD-DL, Blu-ray). Hard drives are very much physical too. All of these can be handed to a client. In fact it generally is easier now that one has to worry less about compatible decks in some of the above cases.

In fact, at least somewhat related to part of the above discussion, non tape based formats are usually much faster to copy so if one chooses to give the client a "master" you can easily and quickly make a backup "clone" so you still have a complete set of the "footage" (maybe bitage is a better term these days).





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Steve Wargo
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 28, 2009 at 2:38:37 am

[Craig Seeman] "bitage"

"Bitage"! Now there we go. I am hereby dropping the term footage when referring to non tape content.

What I'd really like to is for people to stop saying that they are "filming" when the only film they know about is the film that covers them after not bathing for a few days.



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
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Jason Jenkins
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 29, 2009 at 5:10:14 pm

[Steve Wargo] "What I'd really like to is for people to stop saying that they are "filming" when the only film they know about is the film that covers them after not bathing for a few days."

C'mon Steve, "filming" sounds so much better than "videotaping". I tend to use "shooting" though.

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 29, 2009 at 5:21:32 pm

[Jason Jenkins] "C'mon Steve, "filming" sounds so much better than "videotaping"."

But many of us are not using tape so that doesn't work either.


[Jason Jenkins] "I tend to use "shooting" though."
Which in some cases doesn't sound politically correct. I often video controversial people and walking through the door with a long bag and pronouncing you're here to shoot so and so is really in poor taste.

The problem is the technology is changing faster than the language.





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Kerry Brown
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 30, 2009 at 11:19:56 pm

Wouldn't Record or Recording be correct as that is what we are doing?

KB


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to deal with a (lack of tape)
on Jan 31, 2009 at 3:39:37 pm

Recording can imply audio as well as video.
Video record or video recording is OK but doesn't say as much as filming (to film) taping (to tape). Recording doesn't say to what. The problem is the lack of common terminology for video recording to solid state media.



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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 28, 2009 at 12:38:19 am

Walter,

That's why these forums are so great. It gives members so many differing points of view about these issues. And they can see there isn't a certain way to do things nor is there one way to be successful.

5 years ago I would've agreed with you 100%. But after a couple of ugly client experiences, I've done a one eighty on this issue.

Neither experience was caused by anything we did improper, in fact both clients LOVED our work. But we've found there are a LOT of unscrupulous people out there who if they have the opportunity, will take advantage of small firms like ours (7 employees). Sadly in our experience it was two very large companies that tried to screw us out of payments AND get their hands on hundreds of tapes so they could go do the same thing to someone else. Our only line of defense was that footage. One company relented, paid us, and still uses us today (under different ownership but with the same core marketing staff)

The other company is mired in litigation from dozens of companies (including us) they did the same thing to. They would contract for services under the guise of their name and size, demand credit, then basically not pay for anything. And they're solely owned by a prominent mega millionaire that owned an NBA sports franchise for 14 years! Think Mark Cuban rich.

Believe me, if you ever have a company do to you what these companies did to us, I bet you'd at the very least rethink your views on this issue. Both instances nearly put us out of business.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Bob Mark
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 2, 2009 at 6:51:46 pm

Traditionally, still photographers have owned their negatives. In consulting with an entertainment law attorney, I was told that the production company owns the rights to the raw footage unless the contract states that it is a "work for hire."

Bob


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cowcowcowcowcow
Steve Wargo
Stop it
on Jan 27, 2009 at 5:58:33 am

STOP charging by the finished minute. This was an idiotic practice from many years ago and it makes no sense. Charge by the project using any formula but that one. I guess this means that you charge $400 for a 30 second commercial, right? And $ 72,000 for a 90 minute seminar taping?

So, if you build a 12 minute spot and they ask to cut it down to 3 minutes, that means $ 2,400. And you wonder why you're having problems.

Try charging for your time with a range of dollars that makes sense. We have a piece on our website that is 20 seconds long and cost $ 68,000. They should have hired you for $ 275.

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
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Steve Wargo
And...
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:22:31 am

Oops, I hit the send button too soon.

The thing that will keep you in business the longest with a long list of long term clients is "fairness". Yeah, you also have to offer a lot more things like great quality, on-time / on-budget delivery and an outstanding set of ethics. Bla bla bla. Some of my clients have been with me for over 20 years, starting with S-VHS production. One thing that I have never done is to claim copyright, except when I'm the victim of nonpayment.

There have been dozens of clients who's first question was "Who owns the copyright to my footage?" My answer is "You own everything that you pay for". Holding a client's footage hostage in order to get future work is professional suicide. Regardless of the intellectual property laws, to them, it looks like nothing more that trickery or greed.

I don't mean to come down on you hard on this but I run my business on the "100% referral" business model and charge what I call "The Happy Price". They're happy, I'm happy. Everybody's happy. As silly as it sounds, people love it when I say those words. Again, it's all about fairness.

Hire someone to chop that thing down to 3 minutes, today. Even if you lose a few bucks in the process.




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
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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dorit grunberger
Re: And...
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:33:31 am

And...I don't think I was clear enough in the original description of the issue.
1. We don't hold the footage ransom, we keep it so that the client doesn't do what they're trying to do, and that is to use us to get cheap work.
2. The 3 minute project is beyond the original project. The client wants both. We're just about finished with the 9 minute version and will work on the 3 minute web version this weekend.
3. The contract was for the 1st 9 minute project only, for which we've received 75% of the total bill at tihs point.
4. I see no reason not to charge the clients for a 3 minute piece that was not part of the original project - do you?
5. I'm sure you charge quite a bit more than we do (and probably worth it too ;-)). We can't afford to "hire someone to chop it down."

Thanks again for your input and everyone else so far. This is a loaded subject every time it comes up. Live & Learn!



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walter biscardi
Re: And...Ditto
on Jan 27, 2009 at 12:36:35 pm

Ditto to everything Steve said, including the part about hiring someone else to come in and cut down the piece. I do this very thing quite often when something pops up and we need it done right away, I'll bring in one of several freealancers we work with all the time.

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

Read my Blog!

STOP STARING AND START GRADING WITH APPLE COLOR Apple Color Training DVD available now!


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dorit grunberger
Re: Stop it
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:23:23 am

Ouch Steve!
For brevity, I didn't get into too many details. We usually agree on how long the project is and that's what the client pays for. If they ask for the world (which you know they do) and if we can't keep it within the agreed upon length, we give them more. Then together, we cut it down again to the final length, or if they like it as is then we don't charge them beyond what was agreed on.
We do understand that there's a lot more work goes into a 30sec psa than a 30 minute straight shoot.
We'll give more thought to a change in rate structure.
Thanks for your suggestions



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Steve Wargo
Re: Stop it
on Jan 29, 2009 at 6:12:58 am

I wasn't meaning to beat anybody up. I just don't smother things with honey. More like hot sauce.

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
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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Christopher Wright
Re: Stop it
on Jan 29, 2009 at 9:49:26 pm

While I totally and completely fall on the side of Chris Blair's explanation of the right and reasons to own your footage, especially if you put it in your contract, and the issue of unscrupulous clients that don't want to pay you (as the only ones I have had an issue with concerning the same), I think my problems with the original poster come down to this:
We finally agreed on a 1 month drop-dead timeframe to deliver the 3 minute version to them
If you really give your clients this long of a finish time for a 3 minute cut, I would indeed at least hire someone yourself to cut the spot for them. This is indeed "holding the footage Hostage."
And I wish Walter would quit framing his views on this issue as one of "ethical practices." It is his opinion which he espouses and is entitled to, nothing more nothing less. It has nothing to do with ethics.

Dual 2.5 G5, IO, Kona LH, IO, Medea Raid, UL4D, NVidia 6800, 4Gig RAM
Octocore 8 GB Ram, Radeon card, MBP, MXO
Windows Vista Adobe Studio CS4, Vegas 8.0, Lightwave 9.3, Sound Forge 9, Acid Pro 7, Continuum 5, Boris Red 4, Combustion 2008, Sapphire Effects


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Brendan Coots
Re: Stop it
on Jan 27, 2009 at 6:44:27 am

Please don't take any of this as criticism if it seems a tad harsh:

- Per-minute rates - TOTAL SUICIDE. I would never run a video business this way, it's guaranteed failure. There is no way for you to put constraints or parameters on the project if the cost is purely based on TRT, so you will always butt heads with clients, and are far more likely to see meager (possibly negative) profit margins.
But what should be even more worrisome to you is that any higher-end, video-savvy client will (rightfully) interpret a per-minute rate to mean you are only going to be able to put so much work and dazzle into each "finished minute." What if that minute calls for complex 3d animation, motion graphics, and John Mcenroe hosting? Are you still going to do all of that for $700? If your response is "we don't offer any of those things" my response is, well, the shop down the street does.

- Client tapes - When you do a work for hire GENERALLY it is assumed that the hiring individual owns the copyright to the material, including tapes. Project files (such as edits, After Effects files etc.) are different because they are considered proprietary in nature. It is solely for you to decide how you want to run your business, but this is an unnecessary wedge between you and clients. If you are worried they will take it somewhere else to edit it, then you need to evaluate your editing services and WHY a client would elect to go through all that hassle.

- Questions about rates - You wouldn't need to wonder on any of these issues if you were charging per service, per hour from beginning to end. Now you are going to confuse your client by telling them that, while the original project was billed per finished minute, you're now going to charge them per hour of labor. That is pretty inconsistent service and clients hate that almost more than they hate a shoddy final product.


It's only natural, in this business, that there will be issues you find yourself butting heads with clients on. That said, some of your policy choices seem to be creating needless problems, and this is something everyone on this board has surely experienced. Over time you'll resolve them but only by looking at the big picture and asking what is best for the client and the experience you are offering them.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Stop it
on Jan 27, 2009 at 3:16:25 pm

My boss used to use a thousand dollars per finished minute as a sort of rule of thumb in the 80's. And more or less it was about right, for the kind of work we did. But you have to understand that things were very much simpler and more constrained then, and that that figure was more of a coincidence than a hard metric.

That figure represented shooting one to three 20-minute umatic or beta tapes in a one-day or half-day shoot, basic three-point lighting, lav mic, tripod, no dolly, 2-man crew in studio or within 20 miles of the studio, edited online A/B roll to one-inch on a linear editing system with a Chyron VP2 for graphics and pre-paid needle-drop music. (Using real needles then!). The edit would be a one-day job in most cases.

In terms of man-hours, it would have been about 15 hours, and we were doing it at a loss as part of a government public service. In that era, the room cost a quarter million dollars and up most everywhere you went, was tended by actual EE degree-holding technicians, rates were $500 an hour and up to edit, and there were few format choices and few facilities to compete. None of those factors are true today.

Go back and figuer out your true costs of doing business, calculates a break-eve rate from that, then figuer a profit margin and some money for upgrades and maintenance, divided intot he number of days a year you're working. THAT will tell you what your day rate, and by extrapolation, hourly rate, should be, *just to survive*.

Anything below that rate, you are a charity, a tax deduction, or a hobby, not a business. Not for long, anyway.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Stop it
on Jan 27, 2009 at 5:17:19 pm

[Mark Suszko] "needle-drop music. (Using real needles then!)"

Mark, from one old fart to another, good one. Just a day ago I was explaining to someone where the term "laser drop" came from.

One additional thought on tape ownership (then maybe this topic will go to rest again for a couple of days). We recently had a client, for whom we'd already made a bunch of compromises, ask in advance of a shoot if they could have the camera tapes. My reply was, "Sure, but why would you want to pay an extra third for the shoot just so you can have the tapes?"

I went onto explain how in many forms of creative enterprise a "buy-out" of the material always costs a third to a half more because it's essentially telling the creator that the business will be going elsewhere and the material can be used to do anything.

The client, I assume fearful of raising the cost of the project any further, immediately dropped the question and we moved on.

It really does all come down to what Chris and others were saying about service. That's what they remember and that's why they come back.



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grinner hester
Re: Stop it
on Jan 31, 2009 at 12:05:29 am

lol
I met a guy who charged by the finished minute back in the 80s.




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grinner hester
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 31, 2009 at 12:02:51 am

There are two ways to weed out clientele quickly...
raise your rates or tell em their tapes aint theirs.
Bottom line...wanna keep em, bend over backwards and do so. Tired of em milkin ya, play that hold your tapes ransom game and they'll split.




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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 31, 2009 at 4:11:38 am

Suggesting that a way to weed out clients is to hold tapes hostage does a disservice to folks trying to understand the intellectual property rights issue.

It suggests people and companies who claim copyright ownership of their footage are doing something unethical. We aren't. Copyright laws were enacted for a reason...to protect the type of work we do. Most of our work is intangible. There is absolutely nothing unethical or underhanded about enforcing your right to ownership of the tapes and the footage that's on them, as well as the finished product edited from that footage.

That's right...in most instances, the production company owns the copyright to the finished product. The only time they don't is if the producer or client is heavily involved in the creative aspects of production. And in that case, copyright is jointly owned.

If a client wishes to retain ownership, all they have to do is request that the project be done as "work for hire." That's it. In 25 years working in this business, I've never had one client ask. In the last 5 years, we include a sentence in contracts that clearly states we own the tapes, footage and the finished product. That too has never been questioned prior to a project.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you're ever in a situation where a large client holds your latest invoice hostage until you deliver that next spot or set up that next shoot...(as we have had happen to us), believe me, you'll be glad you have something of value as leverage in the deal. And for those wondering, yes we require desposits and don't do the work until we get them. But a 30% deposit on a $$75,000 shoot leaves a pretty large balance.

"Holding tapes hostage" has probably led to us getting about $115,000 of nearly $215,000 in billing from a client. Without that leverage, we'd have probably been stiffed for the entire amount.

Since the ability to use the footage on the tapes or the finished product is virtually non-existent, financial protection is the key reason it's actually a good practice to follow.

It's also one of those issues where you have to use your judgement. We have another very large client that occasionally asks us to give footage to another production house that also edits projects for them. This client pays like clockwork with a bank transfer 7 days after we submit an invoice. They put us up in suites when we're on the road. They feed us like royalty. So we gladly give the other production company digital copies of the footage (they use the same editing system as us so they just load them and edit).

Bottom line, there's nothing wrong with companies who operate under the policy: "clients own the footage." And there's likewise nothing wrong with companies whose policy is "we own the footage." They're both ethical, and as this forum proves, you can be successful either way. I think the key issue is letting clients know up-front where you stand on the issue. Plus...on the majority of projects, it's a non-issue.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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grinner hester
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 31, 2009 at 3:57:45 pm

I was not commenting on ethics. I was stating the fastest ways to wed out a client. You are excersising one of those ways.
If you want to keep that client, the answer is yes sir. You could have had a young go-gettinr pull a double and handed em what they needed that next day. They know this and know the guy down the road that's been trying to get their business will.
It's in no way about tapes. To them, it's about customer service. A willingness to please them. If you are not bending over backwards today, you simply aint gonna be bending tomorrow.



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Tim Kolb
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Jan 31, 2009 at 9:11:52 pm

[Chris Blair] "Copyright laws were enacted for a reason...to protect the type of work we do. Most of our work is intangible. There is absolutely nothing unethical or underhanded about enforcing your right to ownership of the tapes and the footage that's on them, as well as the finished product edited from that footage.

That's right...in most instances, the production company owns the copyright to the finished product. The only time they don't is if the producer or client is heavily involved in the creative aspects of production. And in that case, copyright is jointly owned."



I think some have forgotten the origin of the current footage/image ownership rights. This comes from a time when a still photographer would be in a war zone or other risky situation and a news organization would pay the equivalent of a one-time use fee, but they'd end up redistributing the image and making many times what they paid the photographer, who took all the risks and invested the time.

In the world most of us live in, we're paid hourly to acquire these images, usually of corporate personnel and equipment or other proprietary content...which is not typically re-purpose-able unless some images used are very generic. It's not as if an interview with the Pres of P&G is usable for some later project for some other client...of what benefit is 'owning' the tape if the content cannot be sold anyway?

In the original case of the correspondent/photographer I mentioned earlier, the content is journalistic and depicts world events. Visual content that can be used for other purposes...

So...I guess you can hold the footage hostage if you can't get the client to pay you to edit...but then if they're paying you to shoot but not edit, maybe your edit skills aren't up to the level of your fees? If the client wants to nickel and dime the edit, chances are that they don't see the value you bring to it anyway...take the shooting fee and let it go.

Bottom line is that on this topic, I have always been with Walter. We get compensated for every hour we spend on a project. Our 'artistic ownership' isn't the same as someone who writes a song on their own and records and performs it...it's similar to someone who is paid to write a jingle based on prescribed conditions and an agreed upon fee structure.

All that said, whatever is in your signed contract is what applies. I just think that it's important to understand that the current laws of image 'ownership' were not created with videographers that get paid hourly to acquire narrow- or single-use proprietary images in mind...













TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 2:56:21 am

With all due respect...that's simply not true. Copyright law has been around since 1790. It was modified in 1909 primarily because of the rise in popularity of motion pictures.

It was extended and slightly modified in 1976 because of, and I quote from a 1976 House of Representatives report:

"Television, motion pictures, sound recordings, and radio were cited as examples (for the modifications). The (new) Act was designed in part to address intellectual property questions raised by these new forms of communication."

So the notion that current copyright law is based on still photographers intellectual property rights from shooting photos in war zones is just not accurate.

I've read (and re-read) the entire copyright law and all it's provisions. Nowhere does it mention a work's journalistic merits as superceding creative ones. In truth, it's the opposite. It covers:

..."original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression...including (and listed in order), literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreography, pictorial, graphic, sculpture, motion picture and other audiovisual works, and sound recordings.

We've NEVER had a client even question our position (until they were 4 months behind on bills). We've never had a client (that wasn't trying to get out of paying bills), stop using us because of our position. I know dozens of colleagues (video companies and photography companies) who retain copyright of their work, and not one of them has ever had a client leave because of it.

One of our good clients right now is a Casino that asked for all their footage about 3 years ago. (their parent company was going through bankruptcy reorganization). We said we'd give them the footage for a very reasonable buyout fee. It was the equivalent of about $250 per tape and amounted to a grand total of $6000. If they had to reshoot all that stuff, it would've cost them $100,000 or more. They declined. Guess what? They still use us today. In fact, our relationship is BETTER now than it was then!

I agree the footage and finished works we create have little or no additional value. But copyright law was written to protect you financially. And that's just what we use it for.

Lastly, this issue has NOTHING to do with customer service. How can people claim it's bad customer service to follow a law that was written over 200 years ago to protect creative works?

It is NOT holding tapes hostage! Period. Those of us who retain ownership of our tapes are not somehow lesser business people, or giving clients lesser customer service.

These forums are great, but lets stop the misinformation on this issue. There are obviously two differing opinions. Both can work for a business.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 3:08:10 am

Tim Kolb:
Our 'artistic ownership' isn't the same as someone who writes a song on their own and records and performs it...it's similar to someone who is paid to write a jingle based on prescribed conditions and an agreed upon fee structure.


I forgot to add...copyright law does not distinguish between "types" of creative works. It doesn't specify that someone writing, producing and directing an independent film has any more rights or privileges than a production company producing a corporate marketing video.

And in the case of music production...and specifically jingles... every jingle writer we've worked with charges a base fee for writing and production, then charges a "per use" or licensing fee based on markets the music will be used in. If it's national, it's quite a bit higher than if it's regional. The licensing fee is typically for a period of time (usually a year). After the year is up, you re-license the music based on the markets. Some will structure it as a buyout, but many still base the rate on the size of client, number of markets etc....which is completely fair.




Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Tim Kolb
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 4:30:55 am

[Chris Blair] "And in the case of music production...and specifically jingles... every jingle writer we've worked with charges a base fee for writing and production, then charges a "per use" or licensing fee based on markets the music will be used in. If it's national, it's quite a bit higher than if it's regional. The licensing fee is typically for a period of time (usually a year). After the year is up, you re-license the music based on the markets. Some will structure it as a buyout, but many still base the rate on the size of client, number of markets etc....which is completely fair."

OK, my example of the principle, not all jingle houses work the same way, but very well...let's carry that similarity forward...

... then do you only allow your clients to use their finished video for a year?

Do you charge your larger clients a higher hourly rate for similar work?

How many businesses work this way? I don't have to bring along last year's income tax return when I go grocery shopping so they can determine what to charge me for the same stuff everyone else is buying...

This isn't as clean cut as it seems and interpretation of this concept is all over the place. I do understand that even though most of us do everything we do because we're hired to do it, treating an end product as a 'work for hire' remains some special contractual circumstance. Does no one else see that as odd once they can set aside their own self-interest for a moment and look at it objectively?





TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Todd Terry
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 7:54:23 am

[Tim Kolb] "... then do you only allow your clients to use their finished video for a year?"

Yes, often times, we do. Or 18 months. Or two years. Or 13 weeks. It varies.

One of the things to keep in mind that while a producer or production company may own and retain the rights to a production, often times that is not all inclusive... and the production contains elements that the producer does not hold lifelong rights to.

Two of the most prominent of those elements are music rights, and acting performances.

If we produce a broadcast commercial (which is our chief stock in trade), chances are the music track is specifically paid for and licensed for that particuar production. If we were to provide all of our source materials for that production to a client, and they were to take all of that to another production company for another cut and re-use the music track, they would be in violation of the specific secured rights to that track.

Likewise, talent that appears in our spots (especially represented and/or union talent) are hired for a specific production for a specific market and usage for a specific period of time. It's hard for clients (who come from very different worlds) to understand that although we could hand them a raw tape, that doesn't necessarily mean they own the rights to use what's on them. It's impractical to hand a stack of agents' and union paperwork to a client and explain to them that "Talent A" was a buyout but "Talent B" is usable for any production but only for 13 weeks and that "Talent C" is available for a year but only in such-and-such market and that the voiceover guy can't be used again at all because he has subsequently signed an exclusive agreement with a competing client.... and so on and so on. Clients just don't think that way, understand it, or be expected to comply.

That is one reason that we retain ownership of all matierials, including raw footage... and clients' contracts plainly state that (as well as limitations on their final production, if any... such as air life).

Of course if a client did use some of those materials improperly, technically it would be them in violation, not me... but I guarantee you it would come back to bite me. We have very good relationships with the agents, union reps, and talent that we have worked hard to cultivate... and we do not want to jeopardize those.

In 12 years we have never had a client question that policy... knock on wood.


T2

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






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Tim Kolb
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 1:54:32 pm

Hi Todd,

On spots with talent performances, I have the same situation. I understand this system more with talent performances as it's akin to having the talent's likeness 'perform' every time the spot runs. Licensed music is also along the lines of what Chris mentions with jingle writers, etc...

I'm not in favor of everything being 'buyout' by the way... There are just some areas where I think that sometimes raw footage control is used to control where the client edits and 'copyright' is used as the rationale.

If there isn't licensed music or actors involved and it's completely content of a client's property...I have a difficult time understanding what other purpose there could be in retaining rights to an image that can't be used on anything without the client's consent anyway, other than just restricting the client's ability to take their footage and their revenue elsewhere.








TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 4:55:28 pm

Tim Kolb:
If there isn't licensed music or actors involved and it's completely content of a client's property...I have a difficult time understanding what other purpose there could be in retaining rights to an image that can't be used on anything without the client's consent anyway, other than just restricting the client's ability to take their footage and their revenue elsewhere.


In reality, if you own the copyright, you CAN use the footage elsewhere. I'll give you two examples from personal experience. I have a friend that worked on a corporate video for a large multi-national company that later became mired in the accounting scandals from a few years back. The video prominently featured candid comments from this company's CEO as he patrolled the floors of their office building. When the scandals hit, virtually all the news networks and major news magazines came a callin' wanting to buy this footage. There was no work for hire or non-disclosure agreement attached to the project's contract. So guess what, he sold it to a news magazine program for a very healthy sum.

So here's a case where...when the video was shot, who could have guessed it had ANY other potential value. But because he kept client tapes and worked under the premise that he owned copyright, he was able to legally sell them and make money. The company that hired him couldn't do a thing to stop him.

Early in my career I worked for Hammond Productions, which at the time was owned by Tom Hammond, who's now an NBC sportscaster. That company specialized in thoroughbred videos because Hammond is a renowned expert on equine genetics (he has a masters degree in it from LSU). That company produced promotional videos for stud-farms, who would send them to horse owners looking to breed their mares with prominent stallions.

We'd shoot video of all their stallions (sometimes dozens), posing, running in the fields etc. Most were unknown. Occasionally, a previously unknown (but well bred) stud who'd had a crappy race career, and hadn't produced many winning offspring would sire a top racehorse, like a Kentucky Derby or Breeders Cup winner. When this happened, the footage of that stud, previously sitting on a shelf unused, would become hot property. ESPN, NBC, the BBC and others would come calling wanting footage of this stallion and the stud farm because no decent race footage existed (unless you wanted to show him finishing 10th).

Hammond owned the footage...not the owner of the stallion....not the owner of the stud farm. They made a nice chunk of money every year I worked there doing this.

So you never know when the stuff you shoot will suddenly have "value" to someone out there.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 5:11:43 pm

Tim Kolb:
I do understand that even though most of us do everything we do because we're hired to do it, treating an end product as a 'work for hire' remains some special contractual circumstance. Does no one else see that as odd once they can set aside their own self-interest for a moment and look at it objectively?


Ok...I'll bite on this one too. Here's an example of it NOT being as a special circumstance as you think. We occasionally work for crewing companies. Just recently one called with a job for Wal-Mart. Their contract specifically states that we'd be doing "work for hire" and specifically states that Wal-Mart owns the tapes, the footage on them and all rights to their use. It states further that we're not to make a duplicate of the footage unless requested to do so by Wal-Mart.

Issue resolved with about two sentences of copy. Wal-Mart owns the tapes, footage and all rights. Done.

In fact, every job we've done for crewing companies is structured that way. Assignment Desk, Crew Connection, Crews Control and a few others all have this in their contracts with you. Why? Because they want you to hand the tapes over once you're done shooting for them.

We also used to work with an Ad Agency that had virtually the exact same wording in their production contracts. When the shoot was done, we handed over tapes to them. If you wanted to do work for them, you had to agree to that provision. Again...issue resolved before production begins. And to answer a few other digs people have taken out there...the ad agency still used us to edit. But occasionally if we were booked and they needed an edit quickly, they'd go across town and edit.

We certainly don't turn work down where people request ownership, and as I've stated we still occasionally give clients digital copies of footage (typically when they have a history of paying on-time), or if they have a bunch of projects they need done quickly or if we're booked and can't accomodate them. But we certainly wouldn't hand those tapes over if they owed us $25,000 and were 4 months past due. If we did, what incentive would they have to pay their bill?



Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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David Roth Weiss
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 4:52:53 am

Copyright is, by definition, held (owned) by "the creator" of a work. And, if determination of a sole creator is impossible, then shared copyright (ownership) applies.

Determination of a sole creator in most collaborative efforts is virtually impossible, and determining who owns what in a shared copyright situation is also never easy, so, agreements (contracts) are written before the fact, specifying in advance who gets what, even if it's done in defiance of the prevailing copyright law.

If you read between the lines, these agreements essentially say, "though copyright law may specify "x," if you want to work on this project with me, you have to agree to "y," with "y" being that I hold all rights to ownership.

You can argue til the Cows come home, but in any situation in which ownership is not specified in advance, some form of joint ownership will almost always apply. So, there is no right and no wrong, and arguing to the contrary is futile.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Tim Kolb
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 4:20:05 am

[Chris Blair] "It was extended and slightly modified in 1976 because of, and I quote from a 1976 House of Representatives report:

"Television, motion pictures, sound recordings, and radio were cited as examples (for the modifications). The (new) Act was designed in part to address intellectual property questions raised by these new forms of communication."

So the notion that current copyright law is based on still photographers intellectual property rights from shooting photos in war zones is just not accurate."


Yes, Copyrights have existed since the 1700s, but the image author ownership interpretation we use today is based on the Copyright Act which was actually passed into law in 1978 (it began its journey through the legislative process in 1976).

Earlier, the American Society of Magazine Photographers wrote a manifesto named "Declaration of Conscience" in the mid/late 1960s and Time, Inc. fought such ownership rights quite hard for years. Photographers did not clearly own their own work in the daily operation of business in those days (even if the law that existed at that time may have mandated it in concept) and they decided to draw a line in the sand.

War zones was an example and an attempt to illustrate the concept, sorry if it was a little limited.

Bottom line is there are legal rules and there is the spirit of what you're doing I guess. Drawing a line of one way or the other being unethical is not useful. Under law, a copyright can be shared by those who took part in creating the work... 'Paying' for the work is participating in my estimation. The work wouldn't get done if I didn't get paid...

I'm familiar enough with the law to know that you are certainly within your rights to hold on to the rights to the source footage... I just interpret what 'participation' means differently.

I've given up source tape to clients in the past. I just feel since they paid for my fees, my expenses, my tape stock, my subcontractors, any resources that had to be amassed, travel, overtime, etc etc...and the image is of something they own or hold rights to as well...(chuckle)...what else is there to own?




TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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grinner hester
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 4:11:03 pm

It's not a legal issue. It's somly a matter if you wanna keep working with that client or not.
Totally up to you.



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David Roth Weiss
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 6:02:34 pm

[grinner hester] "It's not a legal issue. It's somly a matter if you wanna keep working with that client or not.
Totally up to you.
"


Ultimately that is what it's all about.

However, clients are always much more understanding if they've signed off on something than if they've have it sprung on them after the fact.

So, if you wish to own the copyright and control the tapes, rather than arguing about copyright law afterwards as so many here seem to want to do, simply specify it in writing in advance.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Chris Blair
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 9:22:11 pm

David Roth Weiss:
So, if you wish to own the copyright and control the tapes, rather than arguing about copyright law afterwards as so many here seem to want to do, simply specify it in writing in advance.


Thank you David. That's all any of us are saying that subscribe to the "we own the tapes" side of the issue. 99% of the time it's a non-issue if ownership is specified up front. But believe me...you'll be glad you have that right if you ever have a client try to skip out on a large bill. I just get frustrated on this and other forums when people post opinions as fact.

The information on this issue is readily available in books, online, and if you have a corporate attorney, through referrals to attorneys that specialize in copyright law. Copyright ownership is certainly not cut and dried on many projects, but you can be assured of at least joint-owership on just about any work you create for a client that uses original footage you shot and edited. Unless of course owership is requested by the client up front.

I've heard of companies that specify they own all materials created for a project until the project is paid for. That's another option for people out there wanting financial protection, but subscribing to the "clients own the tapes" side of the issue. It gives you the leverage you might need to get paid, while still keeping you on the side of giving clients what they want.





Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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David Roth Weiss
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 1, 2009 at 9:43:38 pm

[Chris Blair] "That's all any of us are saying that subscribe to the "we own the tapes" side of the issue."

No, not everyone. Unfortunately, there are some who continue to believe that copyright law specifically supports a production company's "automatic" right of ownership. Just watch, someone will surface to make that argument...

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Rafael Amador
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 2, 2009 at 3:48:15 pm

This of " Hold the footage hostage" sounds horrible.
It makes me feel guilty for exercise what I think is my right.
Also seams like the only reason for somebody to keep the rushes is to force the client to go back to you the next job. The only thing that keep clients coming back are the jobs well made.
Is up to you to do whatever you want with the rushes but the clients must to know that "by default" the rights belong to the producer. When the client understood that, then you can customize the setting of your commercial relations:-)
Rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Tim Kolb
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 2, 2009 at 10:14:32 pm

[Chris Blair] "I just get frustrated on this and other forums when people post opinions as fact."

Well Chris, for the record, I'm in favor of any measure that ensures a client pays...so I have never advocated handing the stuff (for that matter, not the finished product either) to the client and giving up leverage.

Earlier in the thread, the slant was "shooter retains rights to the footage to keep client from travelling to a different vendor to edit".

...that's what Walter and I were reacting to. And keep in mind that we all know what the law says. No one has said it's illegal for you to keep the rights...we differ on whether or not it ends up being overly-protective business policy. And in that vein, everything we're all saying is strictly 'opinion'.





TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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brian Lore
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Feb 18, 2009 at 1:51:09 am

I always work under the perception that the footage I shoot belongs to the client, no matter what. I have no reason to hang onto their footage and keep it all for my own. I have to work in the cost of tapes or media into my hourly rate or etc., for the purpose of not just giving away materials left and right - but then again, I try to be as loose as possible with my clients to make enough to get by on, as others have said.

My question to you guys posting saying to stop charging by the finished minute (which I've never done, actually); would you say, on average, that it's best to estimate out a job at a flat rate, based upon how much time you think you're going to put into it with relation to total shooting time, editing, and in my case, also production of music?

I'm still figuring out exactly what is the best formula for what I do, and everything I've read here is very helpful, so I hope it's ok to ask a question like this.




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Scott Carnegie
Re: How to deal with a problematic client
on Mar 6, 2009 at 5:19:18 am

In my contracts I specifiy ownership. Client owns the footage and final project, they paid for it. I am allowed to use any of it that I want for demo or promotional purposes. I own any avid projects, ae or photoshop files, etc. If there is music licenses or items with time limits I let the client know about them and leave it at that.

I rarely had over master tapes, I've rarely been asked, but if I do I clone them first. Ther was one time where I cancelled a clients contract and sent them their shoot tapes with making copies since I intended to never work for them again.


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