Know What You Are Duplicating
By Hawke Taylore
I’m sure many of you have a duplication side of your company or know someone in your area who will duplicate a product. If you are duplicating aunt Edna’s wedding or those 8mm films that uncle Bob took during every vacation he went on for a client, that is deemed ok and there are no problems with that, because there is no copyright on those products. What about if it was a production done by a competitor?
I would like to share with you a blatant violation that could have ended badly. This story is true, only the names have been changed to protect the stupid. Company “A” produced a video program for a client several years ago under copy limits that any further copies must be done by company “A”. Company “A” gives client a better rate on production and increases prices on duplication in hopes to recover money in the sales of the duplicates. You with me so far? Good! Years later, that same client decides to check around for better duplication prices, and behold company “B” has a much better deal on duplications. Company “B” has completed the duplications and puts a fresh logo on the DVD stating that this disc now provided by company “B”. Fast forward six months later, and one of the discs copied by Company “B” comes into the office of Company “A” for use in another video project. Company “A” gets clearance that the contents of the disc are the ownership is the client. After seeing that the program is the production they did years ago, Company “A” is outraged and wants to prosecute. A moderator, you probably know who that is, gets between the two companies and persuades Company “B” to pay Company “A” all profits that were made from the duplications. No prosecution was made. However there is now bad blood between the two companies.
The ironic thing is that Company “B” claims that they didn’t know that the DVD was a produced program. Anyone else see the real problems here?
So, who is at fault here? Several people the “client” was still under contract to have the copies done at Company “A”. Company “B” should have checked the disc before duplicating. The biggest problem is Company “B” shouldn’t have printed their own logo on the copyrighted DVD. Yes the short version is don’t copy copyrighted material. The penalties besides the court costs, the lawyer’s fees, and the humiliation are just the tip of the iceberg. It could have been a federal crime with up to $25,000 and up to 5 years in jail. Just try to reopen a company after that! It is just not worth it. Stop duplicating copyrighted material and know what you are duplicating. If in the case that you come across a produced program, that you do not have the rights to, kindly hand it back to the client and explain that unless they have written permission from the original production company, you cannot duplicate this in any way.
This is a very interesting situation.
It seems to me that everyone involved is to blame in this situation, but the main offender seems to be the client. They were under a contractual agreement and they broke it.
Granted, it seems unusually shortsighted that the client signed a contract that basically said that 'company A' owns the completed video, and that the client can't copy their own video. If we tried to get any of our clients to sign a contract like that, they would never do it.
Regardless of how foolish the client was to sign that contract, as soon as the pen hit the paper, they were obligated to follow the contract to the letter.
Great post, thanks for the head's up. We'll definitely be more careful when a simple duplication job comes in the door.
ECG Productions - Atlanta
HD Production and Post
Well any client that signs contracts with others, knowing they are planning to break them, you're going to worry if they will honor their commitments to you. TO quote Reagan: "Trust...but verify".
Many of our family or school based clients here in Tucson want the good and cheap. one of the things we do here is packages. and in that package to give them the price they want we limit the reproduction to "Only we duplicate". this is done mostly for concerts and plays. the one we were talking about in the article happened to be a School event. sorry if I didn't make that clear.
Audio Visual Consortium
Certainly, know what you're duplicating.
For your small schools and such, you should also consider the rights of the author of the work being performed, i.e. playwright, composer, etc., or the holder of the performance rights.
In some cases, you may need the right to record the performance as well as the right to duplicate the recording.
Many illustrious others have written LOTS more on this topic; find them with the search function.
As has been discussed many times on this forum, there are generally two approaches to work for hire:
"The Client owns EVERYTHING" or the "Client owns what is stipulated in a contract."
No contract, no right to claim ownership.
As for school events, the client may own the recording of the event, but of course the client does not own the soundtrack to the play or concert, and if performance rights were not secured, then that is between the client and the copyright holder. More than likely recording and distribution rights are not obtained for school events, thus you really cannot sell copies of a DVD, or probably cannot distribute copies even for free. I'm not a lawyer, but those are the rules I adhere to.
Regarding DVD A being used by client B to make DVD C without the knowledge or involvement of Company A - again, it is between Client B and Company A. I recently received a DVD from a client, along with a message saying that the rights to DVD A had been granted to Company B to create DVD C. This is a sign of a client who understands the stuff we are talking about here.
That being said, these are all great points to remember the next time A + B = C.
[Hawke Taylore] "If you are duplicating aunt Edna’s wedding or those 8mm films that uncle Bob took during every vacation he went on for a client, that is deemed ok and there are no problems with that, because there is no copyright on those products"
Just because these are vacation videos or wedding videos does not mean they are not copyrighted. They have all the same copyrights as a produced program.
I am either missing something or you are way off base. What exactly did "Company B" do wrong? How did they violate a copyright?
You never stated anywhere that you owned the material, only that you had a contract with the client to provide duplication. If the client owns the material then he breached your contract with him but that is not the same thing as a copyright violation.
"Company B" would know nothing of that contract and would have done nothing wrong in copying the clients DVD's for him. Your beef was with the client not the production company.