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Business Resources

Video Tutorial

Rights & Licensing

Who owns the rights?

These answers were inconsistent, ranging from owning all rights for projects that were wholly produced to relinquishing rights to the client. Generally speaking, the rights to broadcast spots produced by ad agencies are owned by the client. Motion pictures rights are owned by the production companies that created them.

 

  • In still photography, it’s more standard to own the rights to the photos, except in the rare instances when a client buys them out. As for the video, it is a completely different system and giving all rights to the client is the standard. Many times, rights are retained for use of the final piece for self-promotion.

     

  • Work for hire is typically a surrender of all rights when you hand over the tapes or hard drives you just shot. If you are the producer holding the budget for the job, then there’s an opportunity to structure a secondary revenue stream.

     

“As of today, I still license my usage for motion work.”

Jim Scherzi www.scherzistudios.com

 

“The rights to stills are with the creator, the motion is typically not licensed.”

Richard Freeda mergegroup.com

 

“For most ‘classic’ cases, rights are given to the client. New, hybrid media relationships should take another road.”

Jorge Parra www.jorgeparra.com

 

“For jobs that I bring in and produce, I own the copyright. I may own nothing if I work with another team or company where I am only the DP or cameraman.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“The client. Ultimately they own the rights and call the shots. It’s their money.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

  • So far, form VA applies to all visual arts.

     

  • Register the whole.

     

  • All copyrighted music, still photographs, images etc. used in a film or “body of work” must be licensed with the respective copyright holders for specific uses.

     

  • Any crew members working on the film or “body of work” must sign work-for-hire agreements or transfer copyright to production company.

     

“This can be complicated. We always try and copyright the stills separately since they’re usually licensed to the project. Since we rarely own the rights to the actual video, we rarely handle copyright on it. Most of the time, the client’s legal dept handles all of that.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“We register the stills we shoot.”

Richard Freeda mergegroup.com

 

“Thus far, I haven’t dealt with that because I was always working in situations where the company owned all the rights at washingtonpost.com. When working with freelance talent, we generally licensed rights to music, stills, and video as separate events.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

Are you part of a guild or a union? What unions are involved in the type of work you do?

Note: Right-to-work laws are statutes enforced in twenty-two U.S. states, mostly in the southern or western U.S., allowed under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibit agreements between trade unions and employers making membership or payment of union dues or “fees” a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.

 

  • Some guild newspapers may have video shooting positions included as a union position, but that is fluid right now. Traditionally, all photography positions in broadcast are union jobs. However, as backpack journalism enters into the broadcast arena, that may change things. It is an increasingly fluid situation there too, as companies seek to shave costs and change roles.

 

“I’m a member of the Visual Effects Society, but that’s mainly for other work and isn’t applicable to most video production. Certainly you’ll run into ASC, ACE, DGA, WGA, SAG, IATSE, AFTRA, ASCAP, IBEW, PGA, … and other guilds/unions depending on who you’re working with and what a project requires.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“I am a member of NABET Local 13, N.Y. The IASTE 600 camera union is strong in N.Y. and L.A.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

“No. Arizona is a right to work state. The only union people I have dealt with are the talent/actors that are SAG/AFTRA.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“I am not a union member. I have worked for ABC News on a couple of occasions, which is a union operation. I am allowed to work for ABC News 10 days before I have to join the union. Haven’t hit 10 days yet. When I do, I’ll have to make a decision.”

John Freeland johnfreeland.com

 

“Yes, the DGA — The Directors Guild of America.”

Stewart Cohen www.stewartcohen.com

 

“I am a licensed Journeyman through the Department of Labor, but not part of any union.”

Aaron Ansarov www.ansarov.com

 

What defines “union” work or a union production for broadcast?

“This is a very specific question that can only be defined with regards to the state in which the production is based. L.A. and N.Y. have the most regulations and there are times that, if you are shooting in those locations, you may be asked to consult the Union in charge for that production. This is a preproduction task that should be discussed and cleared prior to showing up and shooting.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

Do you need to be union to work with SAG or AFTRA talent and or union crews?
  • If using SAG talent, you must be a SAG signatory or utilize a casting agent who is.

     

  • Not in right-to-work states.

     

“The rules of Right to Work states are changing often, so it would be best to ask the producer or shop steward what rules are in effect for your location.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

If working on large commercial shoots as a Director of Photography, how is your creative fee determined or handled?

The answers varied greatly:

 

  • A DP can get anything — up to $5,000 a day.

     

  • A DP makes between $250 - $500 a day even for feature films. Experience determines the rate.

     

“It’s negotiated like any still shoot would be, but we have standard rates that are a bit higher than the average for the industry.”

Richard Freeda mergegroup.com

 

How do you invoice a job where you shoot both mediums? Do you break it out?
  • Almost all either separated the invoicing for still photography and video or line-itemed each creative fee and usage separately.

     

  • Some had one fee that encompassed both video and stills as “visual capture.”

     

“I usually include licensing for both if both are present for the assignment. This creates a value to each aspect and stops the client from asking how much it would be if they only wanted video for one day and stills for the other. The license fee gives the shooters a little more power to defend their fee structure.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

“It’s always broken out, at least as separate line items on the same invoice. Sometimes they’re even under separate invoices, depending on how the job was bid.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“I have always included line items on my photography invoices so the client knows exactly what they are paying for. I invoice both mediums together on the same invoice. A video-only job may have a separate line item for Photoshop if I used it for stills or graphics. On a photography invoice, I don’t add for my lighting or camera equipment that I own. My shoot fee covers it. On a video project, I will add for the camera or lighting package because I’m finding that the base fee for a production day is lower.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“Yes, I break it out, so I keep photography as I have usually estimated and invoiced it, and video as a separate product.”

Jorge Parra www.jorgeparra.com

 

“I have a fee structure that encompasses both still and video.”

Jim Scherzi www.scherzistudios.com

 

What deliverables do you charge for — shoot fee — edit — output files?
  • Most replied that everything is line-itemed.

     

  • Some charged hourly rate for post production.

     

  • Some priced job as one big package deal.

     

  • Estimating forms are online at AICP — American Independent Commercial Producers.

     

  • Here is a partial list of possible expenses for a video production:

    • Permits
    • Hotels
    • Airfare
    • Mileage, tolls, parking
    • Car rental
    • Customs and carnets
    • Gratuities
    • Meals
    • Tips
    • Messengers or shipping
    • Props — purchased or rented
    • Location rental
    • Location scout
    • Carpenter
    • Set designer
    • Catering
    • Trailer rental
    • Misc. supplies (e.g., tape, bulbs, gels)
    • Equipment rental
    • Crew — line producer, sound mixer, gaffer, grip, camera operator
    • Talent
    • Voiceover talent
    • Casting director
    • Wardrobe, prop or food stylist
    • Hair or makeup artist
    • Scriptwriter
    • Stock footage of photos
    • Motion graphics
    • Music — Stock or composed
    • Editor/Post Production House
    • Graphics artist
    • Output — DVD or Blu-Ray authoring and replication

     

“I don’t consider deliverables to be the shoot fee or the edit. Deliverables are the medium that the final job is delivered on. For a web video, I may charge for my time to upload or FTP the video. For DVD, I charge for the DVD formatting time in DVD Studio Pro and the DVD, case and any copies, labels, shipping, etc. For broadcast, I will charge for the output to tape, which costs me $120 for HD (DVC Pro 100 tape) or $45 for SD (Beta). I will add a hard drive for backup for all but the smallest jobs (about $120). As I stated before, the shoot fee (creative fee) and edit are broken out.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

Do you apply the same licensing model to video as you do for your still photography? What are typical licensing agreements for video?

Answers varied greatly:

 

  • No, the industry does not work that way, as far as we can tell.

     

  • Essentially, yes.

     

  • Not for commercial broadcast work.

     

“I would do the same style of licensing as stills (through UsePLUS.com for help), but instead of it being per-image, it is per completed clip. In the same way that a person is not allowed to crop or manipulate my image, neither can someone cut or edit the video.”

Aaron Ansarov www.ansarov.com

 

“It is still in its early stages as to induce a large change in the way video is licensed.”

Jorge Parra www.jorgeparra.com

 

“I use the same licensing for photos and video pertaining to the area, media and duration of use. For web use there is usually no time duration. For advertising photography or video TV spots there will be definite usage duration.”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“I usually include licensing for both if both are present for the assignment. This creates a value to each aspect and stops the client from asking how much it would be if they only wanted video for one day and stills for the other. The license fee gives the shooters a little more power to defend their fee structure.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

“No. We were doing video as an exclusive license for a specific, set period of time in a market (typically 2-5 years). We were licensing photos on a non-exclusive basis, asking for an initial window of exclusivity that was tightly time-bounded with web/print rights being secured.”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“Any video that wasn’t specifically shot for a project is licensed just as still photography would be, i.e. using some of our own stock footage in a project, etc. Otherwise all video licensing is handled as a buyout. The production company rarely owns any rights to the work they’re producing. They are a vendor — providing a product that’s owned by the purchaser.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

How do you handle your paperwork — Statement of Work, Invoicing, Talent and Property Releases?
  • Estimate, invoicing, all permits, and talent and model releases are handled by the producer on the job.

     

  • Releases for everything. Detailed estimate signed by client with a nondisclosure about our rates specific to their assignment. 50% deposit before scheduling shoot and invoice to follow after work is done.

     

  • (For non-union employment.) A basic work contract that highlights the details of the job and expected hours to be working with an explanation of overtime fees and reimbursement opportunities is best.

     

“We generate a lot of paperwork and try to document things as much as possible. Because motion projects tend to touch many more people and cover more time and potential changes than still projects, there’s a lot of opportunity for ‘scope creep’ and changes to the original concept.”

Walt Jones waltjones.com

 

“All billing and record keeping is done through QuickBooks, and all releases are done through our lawyer with Word/Acrobat. I have used BlinkBid for my photo work and think it might work well for creating contracts with this company as well but have yet to do so.”

Erik Jacobs www.anthemmultimedia.com

 

“Again, this depends on the nature of the work. Commercial work is far more demanding when it comes to releases and recruiting talent. I recommend a virtual or actual corporate structure where the business aspects are handled by a specialist (studio manager-type person). We had company lawyers draft a number of different release forms and had those to draw on when necessary. Sometimes, we were required to make property releases available, and certain stories required us to use personal release forms, particularly if we were also going to create marketing materials to market a story (this is more common for magazines and broadcast outputs).”

Tom Kennedy kennedymedia.net

 

“When the line-item bid is approved, it is copied to my invoices with all the same info, such as job description, usage rights, and itemized costs. If the client does not provide their own property or model release, I provide my own. They are stored in a paper file in the job jacket with all the other info (maps, names, phone numbers etc.)”

John Trotto www.johntrotto.com

 

“I use a modified ASMP release structure for property and talent.”

John Sturdy my.media-match.com/john.sturdy

 

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