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How much to charge for licensing video footage?

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Nathan WillisHow much to charge for licensing video footage?
by on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:58:21 pm

I've been contacted by an ad agency to shoot a promo video for a product. They are going to pay me to shoot the video and they will do the editing. They are also wanting to pay me for the rights to the footage. So they will pay me my day rate for shooting as well as the cost to liscense the footage from me. I've never worked on a prject like this. Typically a client pays me to shoot and I give the client the footage. I know what to charge for the shooting portion, but I'm not sure where to start with the cost of licensing.

With my footage they will be creating a 60-90 second promo as well as a number of other smaller projects including things like the talent delivering a series of one-liners to the camera and/or the talent making some gestures with the product that they can use in banner ads that have no sound.

The rights they're looking for are Internet, mobile, point-of-sale and trade for 18 months.

Anyone have experience with this? Should I only charge for the footage they use in the final products? What is the industry standard rate for something like this?

Any help would be forever appreciated!

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Mark SuszkoRe: How much to charge for licensing video footage?
by on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:18:10 pm

Personally, for such a deal, multiplying my regular rate by 2 or 3 times for a buy-out would be fair. But I don't know what others do.

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Todd TerryRe: How much to charge for licensing video footage?
by on Jul 26, 2013 at 3:14:12 pm

Sounds like you may be able to capitalize (if you choose to) on your client's naivety a bit.

It's not too unusual for still photographers to be paid for a shoot and then have individual shots licensed (and paid for) on a per use basis, depending on the market, duration, medium, etc. It's not very common in the cine world.

Typically a licensing situation would arise when there was footage that you already owned or had acquired that someone wants to use. Or, I suppose, if you chose to shoot for a client and then license the shots they want as needed.

For a client to contract for a shoot, pay the full day rate for that shoot, and then have to license the footage for use is, I would say, fairly unusual (maybe not unheard of, but close). Usually in a situation like that, after the shoot the client owns the footage and can do with it as they choose.

We actually have two shoot rates here... one were we own the footage, and one where the client owns it. We don't make too much profit with our "base" shoot rate because the overhead is pretty high... but because we usually handle projects from concept to delivery we gladly shoot at that rate because we get all the pre-prod and post work, which is much more lucrative. If someone wants us to just shoot and hand them the footage, we happily do that as well at a slightly higher rate (actually, it's a third more). But those are just different rates, I don't consider that "licensing" the footage. If that client chooses to come back here for any additional production or post work using that same footage, there are never any additional licensing or usage fees.

So to answer your question how much to charge for the licensing... I'd say there's no real answer. Whatever you are comfortable with and/or they will pay. The "usual" amount in a situation like that is zero... but sounds like your client doesn't know that.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: How much to charge for licensing video footage?
by on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:28:42 pm

If this is truly unique, never-could-be replicated footage, consider bargaining for a time period after which it reverts to you, so you can sell it again, but it would have to be something truly valuable, and not just run of the mill client-related stuff, of use to nobody else, that becomes useless in a year or two.

Usually, just charge a little higher rate and let it go. Good client relations and the referrals they make are worth more to you in new business, than trying to milk a stock footage cow too hard.

And always keep a line in the agreement that you have the right to use a still or short out-take as a sample for your reel or web portfolio. If the material is sensitive to the client, negotiate if you can use the video without audio, or just what shots and how long they can be. But keep the right to promote your work.

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