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Archival/stock news footage licensing question


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#1 Joe Lotuaco

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 08:38 AM

This is a question for anyone that has experience in using archival/stock news footage for use in a documentary. Is it normal to pay for the licencing of footage before the project is picked up for distribution? I understand that footage is licensed by the second, but I'm a little confused as to why it is necassary to pay for licensing when the project might not even get picked up for any kind of distribution. I assume it's so the news agencies covers themselves, but what if the amount of footage that actually gets used changes once a project is picked up? Thanks in advance!

Joe L.
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 08 September 2006 - 10:44 AM

This is a question for anyone that has experience in using archival/stock news footage for use in a documentary. Is it normal to pay for the licencing of footage before the project is picked up for distribution? I understand that footage is licensed by the second, but I'm a little confused as to why it is necassary to pay for licensing when the project might not even get picked up for any kind of distribution. I assume it's so the news agencies covers themselves, but what if the amount of footage that actually gets used changes once a project is picked up? Thanks in advance!

Joe L.


Whether or not your film gets picked up for distribution is irrelevant to the price of the footage. You are putting it in your project, so that means you are using it, so you pay for it.

The problem is that many stock footage agencies based their rates on what your final use is. So if your project is for non-broadcast DVD the price per second will be much lower than if your project is for national TV broadcast worldwide. If you pay the low price for non-broadcast DVD, then your project is shown on TV, you will have a rights issue on your hands.

It's common for producers to pay the non-broadcast rate at the time of footage purchase, then "upgrade" to the broadcast level, if and when their show is picked up for broadcast.

I would recomend that you first look at royalty free stock footage collections and avoid this issue all together. RF companies charge one low price regardless of the end use. Always check RF before you go to rights managed.

R,
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