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Client wants to give another business authorship of video produced for them

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Matthew Stern
Client wants to give another business authorship of video produced for them
on Mar 4, 2018 at 9:09:58 pm
Last Edited By Matthew Stern on Mar 5, 2018 at 3:18:38 am

Hi all,

Got a slightly messy legal situation here. I have a client who I produce product promo videos for. Under their contract (written up by my business), it states that the work is produced for them (and not for a third party). It additionally grants them all rights included in final product ownership and distribution, however it does not grant them the original copyright ownership of the work, or the rights to the footage used in any form outside of the final product of each video.

This client would like to now give these videos to one of their distrubutors, which is fine. Promos are pretty useless unless they can be shared! The kicker is that they want to grant their distributor ownership rights to the videos, including allowing the distributor to claim authorship, and allowing them to place the distributor's media channel logo on the video at the start and end, with no further attribution to my company or theirs.

Where this gets particularly messy, is that many of the videos include footage provided under agreements or paid licensing for the specific and exclusive use of the original client. I'm aware that at least one of these contributors would not agree to their footage being claimed by this particular distributor.

After a lengthy conversation about why they cannot do this, the client then went ahead and gave the videos to the distributor anyway, allowing them to claim the videos as their own, and they were made public. I then wrote to them, and after not hearing back for 24 hours, wrote to the distributor explaining that they do not have the rights to claim the footage featured in these videos, offering them several, mainly free, solutions for how they can use the videos without making claims of authorship, but asking that they remove them from their site until we had the legal issues figured out. They complied, but (rightfully) sent my email on to my client to verify with them. My client then emailed my business threatening to sue us for breaching our contract, and trying to extort their distributor (because one of the options we gave the distributor was a paid release to use the videos as their own - which was mainly to cover any third party licensing which would need to be paid again for a second party's use, or any work on our part to incorporate their branding).

I should additionally note that this was not a "work for hire" contract.

I'd be very interested to know what our options are here.


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