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#1 Gareth Munden

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:57 AM

Hi

I was wondering what the Copyright law is regarding Cinematography in the EU. How do we stand? Is a contract worth the paper it's written on? What if there is no contract or waiver? Our rights to be know as a co-author etc etc.

Just interested to know the facts. Know what I'm signing and where I stand.

I come from a background in still photography and find the cinematographer has on the whole very little respect in this area (I must say I've been pretty lucky so far)

Thanks

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 08:18 AM

I tend to regard it as if they pay me or if I sign a contract giving them rights regardless they hold the copyright, if they don't pay me I'm no longer a hired in worker because they're in breach of contract, so I hold copyright to the framing and composition on anything I've operated on. How that stands in EU law would be interesting to find out. There's a discussion on CML about this.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 09:01 AM

The problem is not the contract, or at least not directly. The problem is in your ability to spend five or six figures pursuing the legal action that would be require to enforce it. If you are fighting a large corporation or an individual who is significantly more wealthy than you, you will either lose or, more likely, be forced to give up for financial reasons, and it will become a moot point.

P
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 09:13 AM

As with any law, it's how much money you want to put into enforcing it. Perhaps the only real leverage is the hassle factor, which can put broadcasters etc off if there isn't a neat and tidy paper trail for a production. Although, you may not want to get a general reputation as being "difficult".
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#5 Gareth Munden

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:50 PM

Thanks for your replies. The is do we have rights? Are we a co-author ?

I know fighting in the courts is a waste of time mostly, but no we have anything to fight for?

Not sure I wanna spend weeks reading a EU handbook!!!


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#6 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 03:32 PM

From what they're saying on CML this is the case. However, in practise, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to act on any copyright you may hold on any productions where you are hired to work as cinematographer. It's not the same as stills photography, there are a lot of people holding rights of some sort in a film and the big operators have the big legal guns.

If you want definitive advice on any copyright issue, you should always talk to a lawyer.
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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 03:40 PM

The Legal Dept at BECTU should be able to answer your questions.
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#8 Richard Boddington

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 08:12 PM

Are we a co-author ?


I've never in my life seen a movie where the DOP was credited as anything but the DOP. So I would have to say, no.

Not sure what you mean mean by co-author any way? If you are not the writer or the director how can you be a co-author of anything?

If you take the position, well I pointed the camera and pulled the trigger. Then I suppose other dept heads, wardrobe, art, make-up, will also insist that they be listed as "co-authors" as well.

It's also amazingly rare for a DOP to collect any back end points on a movie, as the position is considered to be a below the line position.

R,
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#9 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:32 AM

If you take the position, well I pointed the camera and pulled the trigger. Then I suppose other dept heads, wardrobe, art, make-up, will also insist that they be listed as "co-authors" as well.



It seems that under this particular EU copyright they are entitled (with the DP) to their moral rights as co-authors. I gather the law is 20 years old, but it hasn't been enforced.
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#10 Gareth Munden

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:43 AM

Hi

Not sure what you mean by "point the camera and pull the trigger" there is a bit more to what I do then that.

When you I do stills the client (and I've shot for some big ones) put up the money. The ad agency comes up with the idea and layouts and comes to oversee the shoot. I follow the layout and direction from the Art director (as in ad agency guy) and still I own the copy right.

I'm not saying it should be the same in film. I just wonder why it is so different and where the line is drawn. It seem the law is not there. I've had problems with copyright and stills and I always win, coz it's there in the law in black and White.

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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 08:40 AM

I'm not saying it should be the same in film. I just wonder why it is so different and where the line is drawn. It seem the law is not there. I've had problems with copyright and stills and I always win, coz it's there in the law in black and White.


I'd imagine its because a film or television production works and sales as a whole rather than something that can stand alone in it's own right. Film making has been more of an industrial/corporate enterprise and producers need the freedom to fully exploit the film in order to make a return in the investment. Cinematographers have been hired in to perform one role amongst many and traditionally their fees have bought out the copyright so that the producers have full legal freedom to sell the product. The most that can happen is that you have some form of profit participation in the film, although you'd be unlikely to that in most cases.
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:59 AM

Hi

Not sure what you mean by "point the camera and pull the trigger" there is a bit more to what I do then that.


I think I know what a DOP does. Obviously my description of the DOPs job was not to be taken literally.

R,
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#13 Gareth Munden

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:21 AM

Well don't write what you don't mean. I was opening a discussion for fellow DOPs on copyright that's all. Nuff said.

Gareth Munden London.
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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:50 AM

Does not the EU copyright have the same notions as the US "work for hire," wherein upon payment copyright and rights of the creation transfer to the payers-- those who hired you.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:59 AM

In Canada every crew member signs a deal memo transferring all of their work to the corporation that is making the movie. From PAs all the way on up.

R,
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#16 Will Earl

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 06:36 PM

I imagine it's rare for a production contract these days to not have a transfer-of-rights clause in there giving all rights over to the producer (production company).

From what I understand regarding work-for-hire (in US and UK at least) is that for contractors it needs to stated in a contract that the work is work-for-hire otherwise the rights stay with the creator. However if you are an employee then it is automatically deemed you that the work is work-for-hire.
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