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Who owns the footage??

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Wade Pringle
Who owns the footage??
on Nov 7, 2016 at 11:46:06 pm

Hi there I own my own small media company and I really am looking for some answers on copyright issues. My situation is this: I am asked to film and edit a client's video for there client so I am subcontracted to do the work but no contract has ever been discussed or signed. I film and edit the product then I pass along the finished product to the company who hired me to do the job. Payment is accepted then I usually get rid of all the raw footage due to space saving from filming in 4K. Do I own the raw footage? I am being asked to send plenty of the raw footage to the company so they can create other work from it essentially taking me out of the picture for further earnings. The company I work with has slighted me on more then one occasion for payment but I have let it go because the work is there. I am now in a position to really not have to rely on the jobs from them but at the same time I do not want to burn bridges. Is there some literature in Canada stating who owns the raw footage in my situation. Thank you very much for any help offered


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Shane Ross
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 2:27:06 am

[Wade Pringle] "Do I own the raw footage?"

No...they do. You are hired to shoot it. They hired you, to shoot footage for them...that's "work for hire." All the raw belongs to them.

[Wade Pringle] " I usually get rid of all the raw footage due to space saving from filming in 4K. "

Do you ask the clients if they want this raw footage before you delete it? I do...and then I include a line item for a hard drive for that footage. If they don't want to keep it, you can delete it. But you don't have the rights to keep the footage, or sell it...unless you ask them permission.

[Wade Pringle] "The company I work with has slighted me on more then one occasion for payment but I have let it go because the work is there."

Don't. Don't do that. Next time, submit to them a watermarked final, and ask for payment in full before you can release the non-watermarked one. Letting them take advantage of you means they'll keep doing it, and attempt to do so to others. Plumbers don't take partial payments, nor do electricians, or restaurant owners, or taxi drivers, or grocery stores, or carpenters. Payment in full or no final product.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Wade Pringle
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 3:28:36 am

Thank you very much for the info. I am based in Canada so I am curious to wear you get the Canadian legislation literature stating "work For Hire" .

Thanks again


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Shane Ross
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 6:04:36 pm

AH crap. I did see the Canada part, but somehow didn't register it.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Patrick Ortman
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 11:15:32 pm

Talk to an intellectual property lawyer in Canada. There are probably ones online who are really inexpensive but good.

You will be surprised, even in the USA, how much you own versus the client in many cases. Don't take anyone's word here as "the law", because there's a ton of misinformation from people who make a lot of assumptions.

Los Angeles and New York video production for businesses and brands:
http://patrickortman.com


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Mike Smith
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 9:58:18 am

I take the contrary view. If you were hired to produce a finished programme and you have done so and delivered that, then you have completed your contract and been paid. You owe no further obligation to the client, and any materials you created towards making what was paid for remain yours. Having said that, you would probably cause a bad odour with your client were they to find you using footage from their production for other purposes. But many producers organise and group material so that one crew might shoot a mass of footage at a (public) location, with a view to spreading the cost of that over a number of productions, happy in the knowledge that the footage is theirs.

If, on the other hand, you were a shooter hired to shoot coverage, then what you shot would be owned by whoever hired you to do so.


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Mike Smith
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 5:12:21 pm

This one comes up quite often, and there's a list of back posts at
https://forums.creativecow.net/search.php?q=who+owns+footage&f%5B%5D=17


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John Baumchen
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 8, 2016 at 9:50:37 pm

Unlike the U.S. Act, the concept of “work made for hire” does not exist in Canadian law. As a general rule, the authorship of a work made pursuant to a contract remains with the employee or contractor, even where the ownership is held by the employer. This is contrasted to the law in the U.S. where the author and owner of a work made for hire is the employer (often a corporation). The difference can affect the duration of the copyright. In Canada, the duration of the copyright remains based on the author’s life plus 50 years regardless of whether the work was created in the context of employment or a contract for service.

In the USA, in the absence of a SPECIFIC clause that denotes that the contract is a work for hire, the ownership of the footage remains with the person who shot it. Many people here seem confused about this, thinking that the customer owns everything. They don't, UNLESS....your contract has a Work For Hire clause. It must be SPECIFIC, and cannot be implied.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 10, 2016 at 3:26:07 pm

Even in rare cases where you retain the rights to what you shot as work for hire, it does not necessarily follow that you can yourself sell or profit by that raw footage without the original commissioning party's agreement, so it's a stand-off in many cases, but you people up there keep your milk in plastic bags instead of cartons, so there's no telling how different your copyrights are in comparison to the US. You really need to ask a lawyer conversant in Canadian copyright law.

It's also super-bad form to go around the guy you sub-contracted for, to try and work directly with the client. Careers are killed over this type of thing. Doesn't matter if the guy you're working for directly is a slow-paying knob.


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Patrick Ortman
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 10, 2016 at 4:04:02 pm

Mark said: "Even in rare cases where you retain the rights to what you shot as work for hire, it does not necessarily follow that you can yourself sell or profit by that raw footage without the original commissioning party's agreement,"

Mark: the original poster made it clear there was no agreement that this was a 'work for hire'. Absent such agreement, he may have legal rights which he ought to consult a real-life attorney about. Whether or not he decides to act upon such rights is truly up to him.

But I'll add: nobody can 'kill' your career but you. One client can't kill you. You're right that bad behavior over time can kill you. But I'm old enough finally to see that every situation is different, and that one ought to approach each client engagement as a partnership instead of a serfdom. Do the best for your clients, always. Treat them right. And expect them to do right by you. If they don't, fire them and move on. When I finally learned this, my career took off bigtime.

Los Angeles and New York video production for businesses and brands:
http://patrickortman.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 10, 2016 at 5:25:56 pm

[Mike Smith] "I take the contrary view."

Depends on where you are, Mike. I'm sensing you are not in the USA, maybe UK (based on your Brit spellings of "odour" and "organise " rather than the way we spell them here in the Colonies )? If so there are probably completely different laws there, but here the American rules of "work for hire" are pretty cut and dried.

For what it's worth, at my place our contracts always spell out that we own and retain the rights to all footage we shoot, so there's never any question about it.

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 10, 2016 at 5:49:39 pm

Flagler V. Walmart.

Or, Walmart V. Flagler.


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Patrick Ortman
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 10, 2016 at 6:16:09 pm

Mark:

Again, the original poster said 1) it was not a work-for-hire in the contract and 2) is not trying to sell the footage ala Flagler v. Walmart.

Plus, he's not from the USA, anyway.

Los Angeles and New York video production for businesses and brands:
http://patrickortman.com


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Mike Smith
Re: Who owns the footage??
on Nov 11, 2016 at 11:11:13 am

Yes, UK based Todd. 😊 Though not so much the Colonies, I'd say, as the much-love offspring, now far surpassing the parents.
I think you may be right, though, to hint that a good approach to Wade's issue may be very much about care in contracting.


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