Forum newbie has a copyright question

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by applejf, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. applejf macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2006
    I have been shooting and editing since 1995, first on Hi-8, last few years on a G5 with a GL-1 and iMovie. All for fun. Now I am getting into making (teeny amounts of) money creating motorcycle instructional videos for a friend who plans to put them on a new website. Another friend (who does the riding in the video) and I have done three so far. At this point they are in webstreaming format, and that's all I have provided to my friend. The website owner is telling me that he wants me to turn over the raw footage dv tapes to him, and he's saying 'Of course I will own the copyrights'. Is this customary? He wants to be able to create DVD's for sale in addition to streaming the individual lessons from his site. Even with my pretty-good shooting/composition skills, editing skills, equipment, don't I own the product? I can't imagine a wedding photographer turning over his 'negatives' to a customer. Am I missing something here?

    Thanks in advance
  2. Chaszmyr macrumors 601


    Aug 9, 2002
    Personally, I don't see what's wrong with doing it one way or the other so long as both parties agree. If turning over the raw footage and tapes isn't something you're comfortable with, then don't do it. If you don't really mind, and you want the money, then do it.
  3. PegasusMedia macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2006
    Jacksonville, FL
    You shot it, you own it.

    Terms of the sale can be negotiated as you see fit.

    Personally, I would give it up for a fee up front plus a percentage of sales.

    You can weight that balance based on how you feel about the potential sales.

    Think the guy is off his rocker? Ask for lots of actual money and a very small percentage. Think he's got a great plan and will actually sell a bunch? Take a small fee and a large percentage.
  4. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    perfectly said! i agree 100%. unfortunately, it's hard to know these things ahead of time, but it would have been beneficial to have some verbage in a contract specifiying what would happen to the original footage if either party wanted to do something with it.

    has he payed you for the shooting of the footage, as well as the web format outputted files? or one or the other? you'll have to be specific with him in terms of what he paid you for.

    from what i understand, you own the footage. it's your other friend doing the riding and you filmed it. as far as i'm concerned, both you and the rider should be paid percentages if the other friend plans to sell copies. of course, that depends on how the rider was paid.

    however it turns out, and it may get ugly, stand up for yourself and for your work. hopefully, he'll be fair and understanding about it.
  5. theWholeTruth macrumors member

    Sep 27, 2006
    Owning the copyright means absolutely nothing if it is not backed up with legal documentation. Sure, he can tell you that you hold the copyrights to the footage, but will that stop him from doing whatever he wants with the footage? Will that prevent him from using your footgage in a product for sale? I think the answer is a resounding no. He does not understand what copyright means if that is how he is trying to entice you to hand over your footage.

    It's up to you what you want to do. Many shooters will hand over footage for free if it's for a good cause or a non-profit. You may take that perspective or you may ask him for a written contract stating how your footage will be used and how you will be compensated, if that is what you want.
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Unless there was a prior agreement stating that this guy would own the footage he paid you too shot then I agree w/what PegasusMedia said.

  7. Lebowski macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    i generally state that all images, footage, motion graphics and editing jobs i do, will be transferred usage rights to the customer, however, i stipulate that i will ALWAYS retain originals files and media and have reproduction for personal (portfolio, demo reels.... etc) rights. If the customer is unhappy with that, then we go to the monitary compensation until we feel happy with an agreement. Generally, after explaining to a customer i am not gonna take their job footage and re-use for another paying job, and that i just like to maintain a media archive, they are cool with it. Most customers would rather save a few hundred to a few thousand dollars off a job, just to not own raw miniDV tapes and FCP files.

    as with most of my work (non media - print) i always OWN the images, art, whatever. I transfer usage rights, but as far as ownership, its mine. I will agree to not re-use specific images for profit.
  8. gnasher729 macrumors G5


    Nov 25, 2005
    The question is: Did you make a "work for hire", or did you make a video for yourself and let him put your video on his website? If it is a "work for hire" then he owns the copyright. That would be the case if you got paid for making the video, he carried the risk (for example, you would have been paid even if the results are cr*p), you got precise instructions what to do and had to follow them. Would you have been paid for your work if the tapes had been stolen before you could deliver them? If yes, it is work for hire. If not, it is not a work for hire, and the copyright is yours.

    Sitting here, I can't determine what happened, but most likely this was not a work for hire. You produced the video, the copyright is yours. If you haven't been paid for your work, them the copyright is most definitely yours. You have to apply your own judgement, but it sounds to me that your "friend" is trying to rip you off, and I would take a good look around if someone else is interested in publishing your videos.
  9. gnasher729 macrumors G5


    Nov 25, 2005
    In the USA, copyright can only be transferred by a written contract. If there is no legal documentation, then the author holds the copyright (with the exception of "work for hire"). And trying to profit from someone's work without having the copyright would be outrageously stupid; with penalties up to $150,000.
  10. applejf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2006
    Copyright advice: thanks so much!

    Well it turns out my friend has not paid me for the work yet. This issue (and he doesn't even know it's an issue yet) came up when I sent him an email saying we need to agree on what my compensation will be on these and future videos. I guess it was "work for hire", although when I agreed to do this, I had not thought about copyright at all. All I have provided him so far is mpeg files which can't be made into a (decent) DVD. He wants the dv tapes for possible future use. I think the responses here to my question have given me plenty to chew on.


  11. sarge macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    A contract is a must.
    You can issue a license agreement for many different distribution categories: broadcast, theatrical, corporate, webcast etc. You can limit the terms of those agreements: 1 year, 5 years, in-perpituity (basically forever as long as the format stays the same and the product is not re-edited), and you can stipulate the regions: North America, Europe only, Worldwide. With the good advice you got from others here you should be able to present your partner with plenty of options to satisfy all parties involved.
  12. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603


    Jan 10, 2006
    Charge them extra for the raw footage. Make it clear that you will retain the copyright.

    They can pay you even more for copyright privileges but then you obviously no longer 'own' the footage and they may do with it what they wish.

    I designed a logo for a company where they payed me for my time, the original artwork and the copyright privilege. Technically I cannot reproduce the logo anywhere without their consent, even though I designed it, because they now own it.

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