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Who owns the film?


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#1 elvworks

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 02:33 PM

If you shoot a movie, is it the owner of the camera (or whoever paid for the rental) that owns the what was shot? (film/tape)? Thanks! :D
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 02:37 PM

If you shoot a movie, is it the owner of the camera (or whoever paid for the rental) that owns the what was shot? (film/tape)? Thanks! :D


Hi,

It's the person who pays for everything that owns the film. Sometimes a producer will not pay the crew and make them part owners. Don't expect to ever get any profit share!

Stephen
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#3 elvworks

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 03:06 PM

So it seems this is another good reason to have contracts all in place. To avoid any surprises.

Rick
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 03:33 PM

The producer should clear any copyright involved in a film. If it's based on a script, the writer holds the copyright to that until they've signed a contract assigning it to the production company/producer. The director should also sign a contract, especially if they've also been writing or working on the script. Also, any music need to be cleared for copyright.

If you've been hired as a technician to work on a production the copyright belongs to who ever is hiring you. Although, it could be interesting regarding someone who isn't paid to provide a service and who hasn't signed an agreement if they're the camera operator, because there could be case that they still hold copyright to the image itself, just like a still photographer.

Best to have all this sorted by having people signing contracts, especially if you're working on a deferred payments or profit sharing. This means that's there's no confusion.

Owning the camera doesn't give the owner copyright to the images shot on the camera, that belongs to the person taking the images, unless the owner has hired the person to take the images for them.

Normally the producer/production will ensure that everything is cleared. Copyright is a complex and messy business.
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#5 elvworks

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 04:16 PM

Thanks Brian for shedding more light on the subject.

That settles it, contracts across the board, instead of to a select few.


Regards,
Rick

Edited by elvworks, 15 February 2006 - 04:17 PM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 February 2006 - 10:02 PM

If you are not producing the particular project, or own the production company, then what you do comes under the category "work for hire". You do not own the film, unless I suppose it was your own film stock that you provided but were not paid for (and then what they owe you is either money or more film stock, but you do not end up owning the copyright on the material just because you weren't compensated).

But just because film they bought was run through your camera, doesn't confer ownership of the material to you. However, you do of course have the right to get paid and take them to court for what is owed if they don't.

Anyway, consult a lawyer to be sure.
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 05:03 AM

However, you do of course have the right to get paid and take them to court for what is owed if they don't.

Anyway, consult a lawyer to be sure.


Hi,

Under English law, if the producer does not pay you for the film, you have the right to reclaim the silver retained. The value of the silver reclaimed can be used to reduce the debt!

Producers usualy pay quickly when told of this!

Stephen
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 05:25 AM

These things can get extremely messy unless very is handled in a business like manner.

A friend of mind was involved in a developing a feature film, he wrote the story outline and the treatment and a writer wrote the screenplay. My friend dropped out of the project, but then discovered that a film was in production based on his story using the writer's script, so he took legal action because the copyright had not been cleared. The production company paid him, but it was a messy business that shouldn't have happened.

There's a lot of things involved in a production that can have copyright attached, a producer should ensure that they hold the rights to that material. As David said, you should contact a lawyer for advice, my point about the camera operator's copyright over the framing is more playing a legal argument that some people have used when a contract of employment has been broken and they haven't been paid. However, the copyright to the material within the shot very often belongs to the producer, although a documentary could be a more complex issue.

It's best to use an entertainment lawyer, because most other lawyers won't know the subject in depth. In practise most producers use model contracts for everyday work, using the lawyers for the more complex clearances.
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#9 elvworks

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 04:59 PM

Wow, this is a serious question. I'm so glad I asked. Thank you everyone for your input.

I will definitely consult an entertainment lawyer for specifics.

I certainly would not want any surprises down the road.




Have a great day! :D

Rick
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#10 Cole Webley

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 06:17 PM

But DP's always have the right to show anything they have shot (even though they don't own the copyright to this picture) on their reel right?

i.e. D. Mullen's next reel might include images from Akeelah and the Bee?
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 06:33 PM

Well, it's in my contract to be able to use clips for non-commercial purposes (i.e. a demo reel.) Standard language in most DP's deal memos.
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#12 Cole Webley

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 09:34 PM

OK. Thanks.
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#13 elvworks

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 10:02 PM

Yes, thanks again. :D
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