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#1 Thomas Tamura

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 07:55 PM

Dear Cinematography Community,

I was wondering if some freelancers can give me their perspective on a situation? I did a shoot for a party as a favor. It was shot with my equipment at one of my relatives' homes. There were no agreements signed, including a location agreement. In fact I shot it on short ends of tapes from other clients' projects. I told them I would dump the footage to an external drive as soon as they provided one. I was not contacted by them for a 6 weeks. I told them to drop off a drive and there would be a weeks turn around time. They told me that was too long, and they would capture the tapes themselves. As I mentioned they were short ends and I refused to release the tapes.

At this point talks broke down. Then I get this message from them saying they're filing a law-suit or some legal action. My position here is that I was an "at will" employee and when I felt I wasn't being treated appropriately I "quit". Am I wrong?
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#2 Seamus Mulligan-Ferry

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:53 AM

While obviously I'm not a lawyer, I have had a law class which clarified these types of issues a little bit. In short, in the United States, if you are considered the photographer (and actively shot this footage), the rights to the footage automatically default to you as "the creator." Now, generally, this right is waived through the process of "working-for-hire," meaning an exchange for your creative output --i.e. the footage in this case. So, in this particular instance, if you did not receive some sort of fee, exchange, etc for the shoot, you are in complete control of footage.

Good luck.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:05 PM

I think that Seamus is on the right track.

However, these things can be stressful and wear on you when you should be enjoying the summer and being productive if you want to on new projects.


Unless you're mad enough that you just want to burn the footage because they've acted like jerks when you did a favor, you could say look what do you really want? To sue me or to just give me an external drive and get your footage? Giving you a drive would have to be easier.

Also, perhaps you could just dub their footage onto a new tape(s) and send it to them to be done with them, even if you have to eat the cost of
the dubbing/tape(s), adding further injury to insult.

One way or the other, just get it resolved or it is going to stress you out.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 04:36 AM

I would've walked when they wouldn't even pay for tapestock.
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#5 Thomas Tamura

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:44 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Tim, as you said it can be stressful. It certainly is a relief to know that you guys agree with my position. And, Chris, in hind sigh, I should have sent them packing right away (well they wouldn't have to pack cause it was all my gear). Lesson learned.

Thanks for the support and candid answers.

Cheers
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