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Ben
10-22-2015, 06:41 AM
I've asked this on a couple of other forums without much response. I understand that there are many different contracts and approaches, but given that so much filming/video work is now happening outside of any regulated or 'industry' oversight, what sorts of arrangements do you make with your clients for ownership/use of the footage?

I've been advised that footage shot for a paying client then belongs to the client at the end. This came from those with a TV background. My photographer friend fiercly guards his work and negociates a fee for specific use, over a specific period (more normal in this industry, I gather, and partly to avoid someone profiting endlessly from an image you shot for a quick buck).

Interestingly, this photography discussion took place with other friends who had recently married and were frustrated by how little access they had to wedding images for which they felt they paid, in terms of work hours. I understand the conventions for wedding photography, but also sympathised with their position, given the shift in thinking about photography and it's value.

At the moment, I'm telling clients they own what I shoot for them. I'm usually editing projects as well, but will let them have all the stuff I've shot for their own archive. I'm now being asked to shoot stuff which will be passed to another company to continue. Part of me is happy for a decent daily fee and understands the client's position. Another part of me wonders if I should be 'protecting' what I shoot and ensuring it benefits me further down the line.

I should add that I'm doing all this in a 'one man, small scale project' sort of setting, interacting directly with the client. And I'm generally not shooting any drama/short films - more short documentary, events, etc.

Any thoughts or examples of standard/good practice would be appreciated.

jtfarabee
10-22-2015, 10:24 AM
I don't know how much any of this applies to the UK, but here is my understanding of how it works in the US:
In the absence of any other agreement, whoever shoots the footage owns it. It is quite common in my contracts to have statements clarifying who has rights to the footage, and what can be done with it. For example, I had an editing project that specifically stipulated that I was not allowed to use any of the footage in any demo or show reels I produce. That was fine with me, since I didn't shoot any of it. Usually if I shoot it, I at least have a clause that allows me to use it in my promotional materials, but most of the time it excludes me from using it as stock footage for other clients. By putting that in the contract, I am relinquishing my license to the client. If I did not do so, the footage would legally be mine to do with as I please. Again, this may be completely different across the pond, but my advice is to look up any applicable laws in order to double-check what the pros are telling you.

imdjay
10-22-2015, 10:36 AM
I too know little about the UK, but in the US, unless you sign an agreement specifically as a 'work for hire', then you retain authorship rights. But, the contract can of course have other stipulations as to who can do what with the content. My usual contract simply states that i can use the footage in demo reels/etc... And it of course depends on whether it's worth it. Most projects i do i don't care about the footage afterwards, there's just no value to me in general event video coverage and other various shoots i do. Sometimes i'll grab a shot here and there for my own purposes if i see it, and i remain conscious of whether or not i'm using that as part of the client video or not.

It's a big grey area, but as long as you're specific about your intentions in the contract, and keep things partitioned, issues should rarely occur. But as for who owns the footage, it's a pretty general rule of legal thumb that assumptions are not admissible, and thus rights are not assumed to be transferred and must have signed documentation of such a transfer.

disclaimer: not a lawyer, not claiming anything as fact, just my research and undestanding

EYu
10-22-2015, 11:12 AM
... in the US, unless you sign an agreement specifically as a 'work for hire', then you retain authorship rights. But, the contract can of course have other stipulations as to who can do what with the content.

... as long as you're specific about your intentions in the contract, and keep things partitioned, issues should rarely occur. But as for who owns the footage, it's a pretty general rule of legal thumb that assumptions are not admissible, and thus rights are not assumed to be transferred and must have signed documentation of such a transfer.



+1. Never assume. Have a detailed contract.

Gross
10-22-2015, 12:08 PM
I also work with several direct clients. I choose not to play the photographer game of claiming license and ownership of everything. I just prefer a no headaches, you get what you pay for approach. There are some scenarios where that could come back to "bite me" but they are honestly so rare or non-existent that it isn't worth the friction. If I feel like someone is taking advantage of my work, I'll just choose not to work for them the next time.

I don't withhold footage from anyone asking for it if they paid me to shoot it. I also would not use footage shot for one client as b-roll for another, without permission. Sometimes Client A is a for-profit business that sits on the board of Client B, a non-profit trade organization. Client A is usually happy to let it's footage (and brand) be used in a project for its trade organization, as an example.

I think the way you're doing it is fine and I wouldn't change it until you feel like you've really been burned by someone. If you have a bad feeling going into a project with a new client, by all means spell everything out in ink.

Ben
10-23-2015, 02:34 PM
Thanks for the responses

DPStewart
10-23-2015, 03:48 PM
To be a little more specific - with paying clients, I put in the contract that the client shall own the footage they paid me to shoot, but that I retain the unlimited right to use it in my own demo or highlight reels ONLY.

So far no one has ever objected to this because they understand what a highlight or demo reel is. Heck, most of them looked at one of mine in order to judge whether they want to hire me. The fact that I put strong wording in restricting my use to demo/highlight reels ONLY has always been fine with them and/or their legal departments.

basilyeo
10-24-2015, 03:31 AM
I work with similar terms as DPStewart does, unless the client requires otherwise. Normally they don't, except for very specific government assignments.

JLdp
10-24-2015, 11:34 AM
yeah it all depends on the contract, if there is no contract then it's about whoever hired you, owns it.
nike's contract to me, that they make me sign, says i cant use it in a portfolio for a one year period.
i shot a katy perry video that played on her tour and it had a 2 year non-use policy. (length of the tour)
my friend shoots most of prince's videos and he is never allowed to post it on his own, only use links from prince's post, so if prince doesnt like it, it gets buried.
every commercial and tv show i shoot makes me sign a NDA, saying i cant even post a picture from the set and i cant use any footage for a demo until it airs. some ad agencies are trying to make it so we can ever use it, and that's mainly because the clients want it that way, but producers/directors/dps are fighting this obviously.

photography is totally different, if there is no contract then the photographer owns it and the client license's what they want from him for a certain period of time.
this is usually agreed upon before the shoot.

Tolin
10-24-2015, 11:55 AM
yeah it all depends on the contract, if there is no contract then it's about whoever hired you, owns it.

False. The OP lives in the UK where copyright laws state that if nothing else has been agreed upon, the person behind the camera owns the footage. If two tourists ask me to take a picture of them with their camera, legally I own the picture. Same goes for video.

JLdp
10-24-2015, 12:12 PM
False. The OP lives in the UK where copyright laws state that if nothing else has been agreed upon, the person behind the camera owns the footage. If two tourists ask me to take a picture of them with their camera, legally I own the picture. Same goes for video.
oh yeah, sorry i dont know UK laws, but seems weird if you are hired by someone to shoot something for a client, that the cameraman would own the footage. so every commercial or film shot in the uk the cameraman owns the footage???

Tolin
10-24-2015, 12:18 PM
oh yeah, sorry i dont know UK laws, but seems weird if you are hired by someone to shoot something for a client, that the cameraman would own the footage. so every commercial or film shot in the uk the cameraman owns the footage???

Only if nothing else has been agreed upon. The laws state that the Artist owns the material- That is the person using the camera. Naturally, pretty much 'Every commercial or film' shot in the UK have contracts that specifies who owns what.

JLdp
10-24-2015, 12:20 PM
Only if nothing else has been agreed upon. The laws state that the Artist owns the material- That is the person using the camera. Naturally, pretty much 'Every commercial or film' shot in the UK has contracts that specify who owns what.
i guess that's why contracts have become the norm, but a quick scan of UK laws all i see is that whoever paid for it, owns it. but that's internet, you never know what's exactly right these days, but you live there.

Howie Roll
10-24-2015, 02:50 PM
The sum of a production is much larger than the guy who presses record. The person using the camera is not necessarily the artist and often times not even the DP. Not to mention that you still have no rights to a persons image or likeness unless captured in a public place.

Hey JLdp, I know all the video guys that did that tour, did you shoot the video for Baz?

JLdp
10-24-2015, 05:47 PM
The sum of a production is much larger than the guy who presses record. The person using the camera is not necessarily the artist and often times not even the DP. Not to mention that you still have no rights to a persons image or likeness unless captured in a public place.

Hey JLdp, I know all the video guys that did that tour, did you shoot the video for Baz?

agreed, i did one of the big tour visual shoots that katy was actually in, for Lightbourne Studios, i didnt shoot the actual concert, but yup, baz halpin was the client, he was on our shoot and in our meetings, cool guy!

jtfarabee
10-26-2015, 08:26 AM
The sum of a production is much larger than the guy who presses record. The person using the camera is not necessarily the artist and often times not even the DP. Not to mention that you still have no rights to a persons image or likeness unless captured in a public place.

Hey JLdp, I know all the video guys that did that tour, did you shoot the video for Baz?

Yes, a production is larger than the camera op, which is why every production should include a clause stating who owns the footage. Because what we are talking about here is the default laws. That's why we say things like "in absence of anything else." The default in almost every case is that whoever captured the image has the rights to it. If someone is paying for the image, it's always a good idea to have a contract that states who can use the image, and what restrictions may be in place. In some jurisdictions, a simple verbal agreement can be legally binding, although the likelihood of proving anything verbal in court is very low. But at least have the conversation/understanding. And then put it in writing.

Howie Roll
10-26-2015, 01:42 PM
I could be totally off here but in lieu of a work for hire agreement, the camera guy would only own the footage (still subject to personality rights) in a one man band scenario. In a collaborative work ownership would transfer to the author/writer/artist/producer but not necessarily the end client.

Tolin
10-27-2015, 07:09 AM
I could be totally off here but in lieu of a work for hire agreement, the camera guy would only own the footage (still subject to personality rights) in a one man band scenario. In a collaborative work ownership would transfer to the author/writer/artist/producer but not necessarily the end client.

I'd say in lieu of a work for hire agreement, the creator of the work is considered the 'artist'; that is the person holding the camera and pressing record.

jtfarabee
10-27-2015, 08:45 AM
I'd say in lieu of a work for hire agreement, the creator of the work is considered the 'artist'; that is the person holding the camera and pressing record.

I believe that this is what most applicable laws state. It may not be right, but it's legal.