Right to edit purchased media
If I hire a production company to create video segments for my business do I have the right to edit the final product?
Can I pull footage from the provided segments and create a new video?
I am in a minor dispute regarding the matter and my assumption was that by purchasing the the segment that the the media within the segment would then be mine to use in any way I see fit?
The claim is that I am infringing upon copyright and using intellectual property.
Any clarification is appreciated.
It depends on several things, most importantly whatever the original agreement was, and the mood of the production company.
Here we mostly produce television commercials, and by the terms of our agreements with clients they own the right to the FINISHED PRODUCTION, as-is, to broadcast as they wish, when and where they wish.
What they do NOT own are any elements that went to make up the complete production, not the graphic elements, music tracks, voice or on-camera performances of actors, or the footage itself. We do not allow clients to have our raw footage (unless that's our agreement and what they specifically paid for), nor do we allow them to, for example, chop up a commercial elsewhere and use any of its pieces.
It's one thing if you hire a production company to shoot raw video for your use (search "work for hire" in this forum and you'll find lots of good info). It's another thing if, like in almost all our cases, you are hiring to create a finished production. If that's the case, you likely only have rights to the finished production.
You asked a couple of questions: "If I hire a production company to create video segments for my business do I have the right to edit the final product? "... well, I would say yes, as the client you're signing the checks and obviously you have the say-so in the final cut. They would usually be expected to edit it as you see fit. We often have projects that we would edit a bit differently than the client wants... but as the say "the customer is always right."
The other question "Can I pull footage from the provided segments and create a new video?" is completely different. Depending on your agreement with the production company, you may or may not have that right. Very likely not. Compounding that is the fact that the production company may not own transferrable rights to all the bits and pieces that make it up, not only the footage. For example there may be performance or location rights that apply to the original production you hired them for, but would not be available for you to re-use. That applies to the footage itself, too... those rights are likely solely with the production company.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
In our case we also supplied footage for final cuts. Does this grant us copyright of the media as well? I don't imagine it would give us impunity in use of all the shots within an edit. But maybe it does.
Either way I don't want to ever test this through litigation but I want greater understanding of who owns what?
Obviously, you still have the rights to the footage that you provided (providing you had those rights in the first place, which I'm assuming you did), irrespective of the fact that it was used by the production company to create your final video.
So yes, obviously you can do with that footage as you wish (again, assuming you have the rights to it). But the fact that this production company used it for your project in no way gives them any rights or control over that supplied raw footage.
The end result of what they did with it, though, is likely a different story. Let's say you supplied them with a shot of a dog in a field, for example, that you either shot yourself, had shot for you, or purchased. You have the rights to that shot, and even though the production company used it in your project you still have the rights to the original raw shot. But let's say the production company did something to that footage... used it within an edit, composited it somehow, or color-graded it. Let's say, for example, they did a sky replacement in the shot, or added some bushes. You probably don't have the rights to that version of the shot (other than its use as-is in the production you hired them for). It all just depends on what specific agreement you had about footage re-use with the production company... and in the absence of any specific mentions of re-usage rights, I personally would contend that the rights to individual and manipulated elements remain with the production company. But then again, we always have agreements that specifically prohibit that kind of reuse. Others may feel differently, but that's my opinion.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
It's a big sea to swim in. We don't want to get eaten through our own interpretations or assumptions.