In the video industry, it is very rare for a video professional to retain rights to the footage. Video productions are usually a complex and collaborative process that involves more parties and financial involvement than a typical photo. As such, the videographer of director of photography is rarely the copyright holder.
Here are a few points to consider.
- Cash is power – Whoever pays for a production is typically the copyright holder. This can be a client, television studio, or independent producer. The standard in the world of video is work for hire.
- Unused footage – Most funders will expect that all footage you shoot while on assignment is theirs. On the road to an exotic location for a client? Even if you’re just there to shoot a 60 minute interview, they may expect that all the footage you shot will belong to them. Be sure to clearly spell out your expectations and read any agreements before you sign them.
- Request portfolio permission – Be sure you get in writing your rights to show work samples. This may be limited to client selected portions or can be denied all together. It is best to negotiate your rights up front so you can show your work.
- Self-funded productions – Nothing keeps you from pursuing other models of production. There are certainly self-funded and distributed projects as well as the opportunity to shoot and license your own stock footage. The limitations on this front are really based on traditions. Because video production and distribution has been such an expensive undertaking, the power usually lies in the hands of the network or studio model. Be prepared for an uphill battle if you want to change the status quo.
I'll present more on this at the ASMP Strictly Business Conference in Chicagp – April 1–3