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Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?

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Stephen Pickering
Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:11:14 am

Hi there,

I was recently asked to produce a 4 minute marketing video for an acquaintance of mine at a national company. Essentially this video will be deployed to x number of retail location within his region. He does not represent the national company as a whole (so this video is not a corporate initiative) and will only be used in the stores he oversees. However if this video does what his aim of it is (selling more products), I suppose it could be asked to be given to other locations outside of the beta demographic (or nationally).

Here's my question. I gave an estimate for what it would cost for me to produce it, and if that's all I got I would be happy. But, what if the company at the national level was to like the video and decide to use it nationally? Is it greedy or is it wise to discuss some sort of "licensing" which would benefit me if the video were to go national? Is this "standard business practice" to ask for this kind of "license"? I know music (and stock photos and video) often has different licenses.

I don't want to be greedy, but I also don't want to be foolish.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Stephen


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Wayne Keyser
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 5:04:05 am

Greedy? No! Exploit what you have.

When you find out that your horse is a runner, you run it. There will be plenty of other instances when you get only what you count on, or less.

The issue of ownership and your right to further license this production should be set forth clearly in whatever contract you have with your original client.



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Stephen Pickering
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 2:04:20 pm

Thank you Wayne. I just wanted to be sure that it's appropriate. The potential "client" could easily go to another company but they contacted me after seeing an original piece I did, asking me for my spin on their project.

Is this something complex enough to require a lawyer to write up?

Thank you again,

Stephen



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Mick Haensler
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:08:36 pm

I have to respectfully disagree with Wayne here. You are being hired to make a video for a company. What that company chooses to do with that video is up to them. Put a licensing clause in your contract and you risk losing the client. It is a work for hire, not an original piece that you own. Just my two cents though and I could be way off base on this.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media
Tech Now


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Wayne Keyser
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 8:07:57 pm

Mick Haensler's post is 100% true, based on the information you have provided.

However, you can always ask ... if the client says "no" then at least you asked (who knows? They might say "yes"). That assumes that you're not making your licensing idea a condition of the initial agreement, in which case you'd be in much more danger of blowing the deal altogether.

The need-a-lawyer question ... forgive me for being a bit snarky, but if you have to ask, then you probably do. The best time to work out an idea for such an arrangement is early, before finalizing the agreement. That way, you can make your proposal (regarding licensing) more attractive to the client by offering a discount or other incentive.


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Stephen Pickering
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 18, 2012 at 1:15:33 pm

Mick, thank you for your thoughts on this as well. I'll just mention it to the client, but as far as I'm concerned it's not a deal breaker. If I can just word it like that...

Thanks again, I appreciate your thoughts.

-Stephen



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Nick Griffin
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 18, 2012 at 4:14:01 pm

It's hard to tell from the original post what the actual situation is with this project.

If Stephen is simply being hired to shoot and edit a product or process with minimal creative input then Mick's contention that this is work for hire should be correct.

However if the project involves more, ie.- becoming the defacto producer and author, also known as "adding value," then Wayne's approach is valid. It really comes down to how much Stephen is bringing to the party and how unique and complete he can make the product he's offering.

When I last had a situation like this I just added a sentence on geographical use to justify obtaining additional compensation based on later, wider usage. In our case the language read: "The fees outlined here are for our work for the exclusive use of (client) in North America and therefore for distribution within North America. Should at some point (client) wish to use materials created by us in other regions of the world we will be entitled to additional compensation."

I deliberately kept this vague so the negotiation for additional usage didn't stand in the way of securing the original deal. And, a few years later, when this company wanted to use our stuff in Europe we were able to get paid nearly 50% more on top of the original cost. May or may not work for anyone else, but did for me. Your mileage may vary.


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Afsheen Aziz
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 18, 2012 at 8:55:57 pm

interesting :)


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:57:27 pm

IMO, this is risking a long term relationship, for a quick gain.
You're in the same position as the recording studio, and not the recording artist.
The reason music licensing works is these are for the most part, unique performances, which is unlike providing production. The reality is, there is nothing proprietary about production work. Anything you (or anyone else) can do, can be replicated by someone else. It won't take long for clients to figure this out. So when your license is up, others can very easily come in and do something similar, or perhaps better, while under-bidding you. This is because you are selling an idea, with the production element being secondary. If your in the video production biz, you sell service. So I say stick with that, and concentrate on providing service that is so good they keep coming back not matter what the idea is, or who comes up with it.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 19, 2012 at 1:02:29 am

Hmmm...disagree with Scott. He is the recording studio AND the artist. I think it is plausible to ask for the contract.

Lawyer in tow.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Mick Haensler
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 19, 2012 at 2:59:40 am

In researching this(I get a bit obsessive sometimes) I must acknowledge that I spoke out of ignorance and what Stephen is describing does not meet all 3 criteria of the legal definition of a "work for hire" and he has every right under the law to specify and limit the use of this production and receive additional compensation if the work is used outside of that provision. So bring out the lawyers!!

Going further down the rabbit hole I came across the story of a commissioned work that didn't turn out so good for anyone. That being the sculpture Portlandia in Portland Oregon. The sculpture was created to be an icon for the city but because it was not contracted as a work for hire, the artist Raymond Kaskey slapped a multitude of restrictions on the use of the image of his creation. What was to be a destination piece of art and a source of income for the city, turned into an embarrassment and is now relegated to obscurity, literally, the city has planted 30' high trees around the sculpture obscuring it's view. And the artist, instead of being hailed as the great sculptor, is best known for being a jerk.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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Nick Griffin
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 19, 2012 at 2:07:13 pm

"best known for being a jerk"
"risking a long term relationship"
"didn't stand in the way of securing the original deal"


There's a common thread here that needs to be clarified. It's the importance of being someone with whom it's easy to do business and NOT one who erects barriers to getting the gig. You have to come across as being warm, friendly and, above all else, helpful. Once perceived in this way you can treat add-on terms and conditions as minor items. Keep your negotiations light and never been seen as "THE ARTIST" with his or her set of demands.


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Mick Haensler
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 19, 2012 at 2:52:55 pm

YESSSSSS! Thank you Nick. That is exactly what I was trying to convey with "The Parable of the Jerk Artist". I just came away from a lunch meeting with a very conservative CEO of a mid sized company with 1 out 2 contracts signed and some very positive indicators that the 2nd contract would be signed shortly. This is big deal for my company as we usually work with small businesses and non profs. Moving into this level is extremely exciting. We got to that lunch via 2 other meetings where we had to sell the marketing dept and the Director of Operations. One thing became clear from the beginning, we liked them and they liked us. They aren't shopping these projects to other vendors because they want to work with us, and that to me, is more important than anything....relationships. "Lawyer in tow" is usually the result of a relationship gone bad. Sorry Rick....

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 19, 2012 at 5:58:26 pm

[Rich Rubasch] "Hmmm...disagree with Scott. He is the recording studio AND the artist. I think it is plausible to ask for the contract."

I have no problem with contracts. In fact, I encourage their use.
I disagree with the idea that production should be licensed like music, which is something totally different.
I think the dividing line is going to be based on risk.
If you completely produce a video from scratch on spec, and the entire thing is your idea, your money, your risk, then you have a product that you can sell any way you want. That is a product, not a service like production.
On the other hand if any part of this comes from the client, you are back to being a service provider. I think trying to straddle the fence and do a little of both is a train wreck waiting to happen.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 19, 2012 at 6:08:57 pm

I want to follow up my last post with this:
The OP originally said
[Stephen Pickering] "I was recently asked to produce a 4 minute marketing video for an acquaintance of mine at a national company."

In this case, the OP is not the idea originator, the client is. Stephen was asked to produce, or render a service.
Had Stephen gone to the client and pitched the idea from scratch, or had done a video on spec, then I think he would have a stronger case for being the person that has control over the rights.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair


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Stephen Pickering
Re: Is it appropriate to license video similar to how music is licencsed?
on Jul 20, 2012 at 6:19:19 pm

Thank you all so much for your thoughts on this.

I agree my situation is not the same as an artist risking something in hopes of selling it. I'm being paid no matter what.

I do have a little pull as they approached me for my "twist" on the video (after seeing a specific video I had done in the past), but I am by no means irreplaceable. I think I'll casually run it by them but will try to present it in a way that it doesn't in any way feel to be a required contingency.

I really appreciate your input on this. I'm a creative person and unfortunately not a very good business person, so I sometimes overlook good business practices.

Thank you again!

-Stephen



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