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Legal question on handing footage over to a company/client

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#1 Niall Conroy

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 12:07 PM

Hey guys,

Just wondering what your thoughts on this...

Quick background - the past few months I've been on-and-off shooting some promotional material for a band and editing short videos together for them - cash in hand sort of deals. Just got a call today from their manager asking to hand over a hard drive of all the rushes ever shot of the band so that the record company can archive them for future reference. 

Now, we didn't go into it on the phone, but once the call had ended I started to wonder about the legality, or rather ownership, of the situation - where do I stand here? I was operating under a production company myself and a college work under - obviously we are the owners of this material, but does it change once we're shooting a group which is signed to a label? 

what should one do in this situation? How can one protect themselves from a record label using their footage in the future and not get any credit or payment for it?

Thoughts?


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 12:56 PM

Ask, gently and politely, for a fee. They'll refuse. Give them the footage anyway.

 

If this sort of detail wasn't talked about upfront, you're almost certainly screwed, but you can at least plant the seed in their minds that this sort of thing should be paid for.

 

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#3 Mark Dunn

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:09 PM

You do not have to hand material over as if you have not been contracted formally the material and all rights belong to you.

The only reason for the manager wanting rushes is so he can cut you out of the deal.

Get a contract and rights agreement sorted out first.


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#4 Travis Gray

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:46 PM

Don't hand over anything. You shot it, it's yours.

 

Maybe if they had a contract with the label that said their likeness can't appear anywhere else or something, but I dunno if that kind of thing exists, and if you shot outside of that deal, then it'd still be yours.

 

Don't hand anything over. You could be nice and do it, but why?

Since this sort of deal wasn't talked about up front, there's nothing they can do. Copyright ownership laws here.

 

Assuming you're in the US? Is this different anywhere else?


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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:52 PM

Since the OP used the term 'rushes' I was assuming he was in the UK but I don't think there's much difference in what has been discussed, however I believe you have something called 'work for hire' where copyright can belong to a commissioner who is not an employer without express agreement. That's not the case in the UK.

Additionally in the UK you would have moral rights over the work, so re-editing it without permission might be a breach of copyright.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 29 May 2013 - 01:56 PM.

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#6 Niall Conroy

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 11:50 AM

Many thanks for all the replies, guys

I'm actually based in Ireland.

I guess i'll just have to politely talk to the manager about the situation and see what their plans are for the rushes - if they don't intend on using the footage in the future, then why would they want them? Fishy. If they want them for future reference (i.e. possibility of using the footage further down the line) - surely we should be credited or financially taken care of?


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 12:29 PM

I think the bigger question would be whether or not you think you'll be working with/for them in the future. Sometimes it's better to take a little financial hit to forster a longer term relationship.


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#8 Peter Milanov

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 02:21 PM

Watermark the footage with "Copyright Niall Conroy" then they can use it as reference only, just as they asked for.
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#9 Niall Conroy

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 09:59 AM

I think the bigger question would be whether or not you think you'll be working with/for them in the future. Sometimes it's better to take a little financial hit to forster a longer term relationship.

 

good point - guess i'll just have to deal with it as politely as possible and let them see it from our side.
 

Watermark the footage with "Copyright Niall Conroy" then they can use it as reference only, just as they asked for.

hmmm, there's about 260 gigs worth of footage that would have to be re-rendered to have the watermark, feels like its not really worth the hassle.



my friend was telling me a quote the other day on the issue - think it was Jack Warner...something along the lines of: "The only positive thing in you can have in film making, is having the negative" 

the negative is power.


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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:02 AM

Also don't forget about referrals they may (or may not) give you in future.

250gb isn't that much footage. Maybe just batch it through MPEG Stream Clip to something like 480i so it's not super high quality and hand it over to them on another drive. Do it at ay 50% quality. They can look @ it, and it'll be low-res, and then if they request high res stuff you can speak about some form of payment.


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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 10:52 AM

I'm with Mr. Sierkowski on this, which is why I advised capitulation in my first response.

 

This isn't really a legal question, anyway. If it were, you'd need far better advice than anyone here can give you. Theoretically, my understanding is that it's terribly easy to get into a situation where nobody has the unilateral right to use the material, if you shot it and they performed in it. Of course, this is representative of everyone involved behaving like a complete arsehole, so it doesn't often happen.

 

As to your situation.

 

People claiming that it's yours because you shot it may well be right (although it may also be the performers', because they performed in it). Frankly this is irrelevant as a practical matter; obviously you shot it and they performed in it in the hope it would be used.

 

You should ask for money because it is morally right that you should be paid for your work. I'd say something like "...sure, fine, do you have a budget for this?" and then when they sound surprised, emphasise that there was a certain amount of goodwill involved in the production process, and that, no hard feelings, it would be a nice gesture to offer something for the material. Obviously this is more powerful if you've provided equipment, worked long hours without breaks or food, etc.

 

And, as I said before, if they refuse, give them the stuff anyway. There are several reasons for this, mainly that not giving them something gains you nothing and costs you their goodwill. If they're refusing to pay you for it, refusing to hand it over doesn't actively gain you anything. And the potential upside for you is pretty limited in any case; the amount of money you could reasonably expect to be paid in a goodwill situation like this is never going to be life-changing and it isn't worth the potential loss of a client.

 

P


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#12 Mark Dunn

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Posted 31 May 2013 - 11:25 AM

The fallback position is that you should certainly charge for materials, an amount to cover your time, effort and outlay in preparing the copy, not just the price of the drive, based on a decent hourly rate.

According to your price list which no doubt says so much per GB for preparation plus so much for media. If you don't have a price list, you have now.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 31 May 2013 - 11:26 AM.

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