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  1. #1
    raucousimages's Avatar
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    Who owns copyright

    To make a long story short... A local videotographer hired a photographer with knowlege of high speed strobes to assist with a shoot to produce a single image that will be edited into a clip of special efects video. The photographer was paid by check for his services. Both parties shot images and worked the set (one stationary object, one object in motion and splashing water) but the image that worked best was shot by the photographer (he pressed the shutter that time) and he now claims he has copyright. I was asked my opinion and I told the videotographer I think he (videotographer) has copyright due to the "Work For Hire" section of U.S. copyright law because he hired and paid the photographer to produce that image and refered him to an attorney who has done copyright work.

    I am interested in any actual case like this you know of as well as your opinion.
    DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    I own several copyrights, but I can tell you, copyright is as copyright does, in other words to quote from the movie "Forest Gump" Stupid is as stupid does, copyright is in fact a very enforceable thing, but is a very expensive thing to do, normally the person who hits the shutter buttom, either on the camera or the video camera "owns" the copyright, the key is, do they have the funds to enforce that copyright? In this day and age, you will find that most copyright issues will at least go to a district court, if not a Federal court, where we need to really look at...do you have the funds to prove your point? and are you willing to take the time to fight the good fight...most of the time, though there is a concent law that comes into place if your an employee of another company, that can be argued, that when a person, works for another company that anything they do while working, belongs to the company they work for, confusing, and a very grey area in US law.

    Dave

  3. #3
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    The last I knew, the Copyright belongs to the person who CONCEIVED of the image. This would be, by no means, easy to argue in a Civil Court, especially where two image conceivers were working together on the same project, and at the same time.

    Generally, NO "Work For Hire" argument is going to succeed without a whole-nine-yards formal contract, and there must be a clear determination of who is doing what... by using the specific words, "Work For Hire".
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  4. #4
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    I heard of a case in which a judge decided an "image" made by a photographer, passed onto a lab for processing and another for printing and finally to a touch up person was in fact owned by the touch up person.

    The steps prior to touch up were just steps to the final product. The final product was not there until the touch up was done.

  5. #5
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    [COLOR=DarkRed]Until a photographer signs away the specific rights, the rights belong to the photographer. [/COLOR] That means the guy that pushed the button. Work in partnership, however, is difficult to prove. There should be a simple contract. If there is not, tough luck.

    We are, as many conservatives advise, entitled only to the rights we can defend. But consider that one is NOT entitled to a right simply because one can try to steal them from another.

    The Federal Copyright Act of 1978, as amended. A lovely document. The whole Work for Hire rubbish has to do with very limited types of work, under very specific conditions. The key to Work for Hire often turns in the argument when there is clearly sited compensation which comply with the Work for Hire standards. It is usually enforced by a client big enough to pressure an artist hungry enough to accept the terms. But it rarely is applied in compliance with Federal law.


    Good luck. Check the ASMP site for an up to date look at the issues. Seems that some goodwill is missing in this case, as well as due diligence.

    .
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  6. #6

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    Both guys set it up & shot it? Fuzzygrapher got a check to help set up etc. I would think the fella who wrote the check would own the copyright unless there was some other agreement worked out beforehand.

  7. #7
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Koehrer
    Both guys set it up & shot it? Fuzzygrapher got a check to help set up etc. I would think the fella who wrote the check would own the copyright unless there was some other agreement worked out beforehand.
    Not unless there was a specific agreement in place that stated the artist was selling the copyright with the work itself, copyright remains with the creator unless stated.

    Dave

  8. #8
    Lee L's Avatar
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    When I was last working in studios (a long time ago), the presumption was that the photo was sold for one time use, and for a specific purpose. At the time there were articles in PDN about a lot of ad agencies starting to press the issue and require photographers to sell permanent rights to an image. This was still an issue when I moved away from studio work, so I don't know how this shook out, but photographers appeared to be holding out, and not signing over full rights. I did collect for second usage on an image a couple of years later, even though the client claimed she had bought complete rights to the image. This was in a small town, and she didn't really know the rules (or perhaps expected that I didn't know them).

    As others have said, copyright has to be explicity transfered in writing.

    Lee

  9. #9
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Normally it is still one time usuage with studio work, which is why studios don't normally turn over the negatives with the photos when someone picks them up, and many places won't even scan and image now a days, if in their judgement it "Look" professional, I know Wal Mart and Walgreens got nailed real hard a few years ago, because they were scanning stuff and making re-prints on their digital machines, and a pro photog sued them..

    Dave

  10. #10
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinsnow
    I know Wal Mart and Walgreens got nailed real hard a few years ago, because they were scanning stuff and making re-prints on their digital machines, and a pro photog sued them..

    Dave
    This has been a central issue for decades. Photographers & Labs seldom copied 'pro' looking images. The whole digital scanning thing has made it harder and harder to make a living if you shoot pictures for a living. No shooter in their right mind gives hard proofs any more, for a portrait or a wedding.

    Partly, there is a Napster mentality out there: why do I have to pay for it when I can take it ? ( which is, of course, how land developers transform farms into exurbs )

    Partly, there is a concerted effort to tear down the whole copyright structure in oder to make more money with the internet.

    Partly, people have just become cheap.

    But primarily, since so few people actually make anything anymore,
    there is no respect for actual work; no awareness that the product came from hands, through skill and effort. Only entreprenurial heroes should make money.

    Raise your hands out there if you knew that if photographers get together and set their rates, it is collusion, and violates Federal law. Of course, publishers are free agree amongst themselves how little they'll pay.

    The point, I guess, is that you should always have a simple and clear contract.

    And keep the day job.

    .
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell



 

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