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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 22 Mar 2017 (Wednesday) 07:07
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Producer /manager for a music artist has a question about my contract

84 posts
Joined Sep 2010
Location: Texas
Mar 22, 2017 07:07 |  #1

Producer /manager for a music artist has a question about my contract. My contract states that I have copyright to the photos and videos that I shoot. He is in question of that. He states the photos and video that I shoot are not owned by me. I take photos and video whenever the artist is doing a live performances only. He states that the video being shot has the artist song playing and that the song is rights to the artist so that eliminates my copyright to the video that I shoot. He also states that I'm just a work-for-hire to just shoot video and photos and handed them over to him. This is not a known artist and just on a come up trying to get buzz. I'm kind of lost at the moment on this one. What are your thoughts?

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... spilled over a little on the panties
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Post edited over 2 years ago by saea501.
Mar 22, 2017 07:24 |  #2

My thoughts are you need to speak to an attorney that specializes in this sort of law. You need facts, not opinions or guesses.

I certainly would not be seeking legal advice on a photography forum. But, that's just me.

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Post edited over 2 years ago by PhotosGuy.
Mar 22, 2017 08:07 |  #3

My take is if the contract says that it's a work-for-hire, & you sign it, then I believe that he's right. Section 101 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the U.S. Code) defines a “work made for hire” in two parts:
a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment, or
a work specially ordered or commissioned for use
http://www.copyright.g​ov/circs/circ09.pdf (external link)

As of 2007, Photo Lawyer - Understanding Work for Hire (external link)

BUT I agree with Bob. Laws change all the time.

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Mar 22, 2017 08:42 |  #4

Just because you're getting paid doesn't automatically make it work-for-hire.

Get a competent IP lawyer. If you're not getting paid enough to warrant that, politely excuse yourself from this relationship, as this producer/manager will be more trouble than it's worth.

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Mar 22, 2017 09:12 |  #5

Yep the above.

Take the fee, hand over the content an put up or walk away if you can't agree what both parties need. Your choice. The music industry has plenty of people who act tough on other artists, they are trying to protect their artist more than lightly.

Let us know how you get on.

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Post edited over 2 years ago by Wilt. (5 edits in all)
Mar 22, 2017 09:54 |  #6

Both 'it is yours' and 'it is theirs' situations can apply! Let me hypothetically describe here...
(I am not an attorney, and provide this narrative only the illustrate the possible complexities of why you should consult an attorney for a better understanding of your explicit circumstances.)

General description of Hypothetical Situation:

1. You are under contract by Artist X or his agent to shoot photos/videos of Artist X (and his sides in the band)
2. you shoot some photos of the stage and surroundings at VenueY, during some idle moments when Artist X and band are otherwise not 'on stage'

  1. As a 'work made for hire', photos in #1 are indeed the copyright of the hiring business/person, unless in writing your agreement specifies that you retain copyright. You stated, "My contract states that I have copyright to the photos and videos that I shoot." Perhaps your written contract protects your retention.

    a. If indeed the photos are 'work made for hire' (and in writing you are not retaining rights to the photos), they need no permissions or releases to use photos for their own commercial purposes (ads, brochures, etc.). Additionally they can grant rights to other parties to use photos in some commercial manner, without your permissions
    b. If the 'for hire' photos copyrights are retained by you, while they might be able to use their own (hired) photos commercially without permissions from you, as the copyright owner you retain rights to grant permissions to others for use of the same photos in some commercial manner by some third parties...but written permissions from Artist X are probably also needed because he/they are recognizable persons in the photos! So, in practice, your retention of copyright might prove valueless when you do not have Artist X permission for commercial use, in which case you have a market limited to selling shots as 'wall decor'.

  2. Photos of VenueY in #2 were not made as part of the 'for hire' shooting, and you retain copyright. If Artist X or his agent happen to see any of these photos and would like to use them commercially, they need to negotiate terms/conditions with you. That does not alleviate the need for you to have permissions from the owner/manager of VenueY for any commercial use of the photos!

There is nothing that says Artist X or his agent do not argue with you (and in court) about whether Photos in #2 are or are not included as part of the body of work for which your contract was enacted. How the court sides with you or them is subject to the wording of the contract and whether a jury panel agrees with your opinion vs. that of Artist X.

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Matthew ­ Patrick
Senior Member
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Joined Jul 2008
Location: New England
Mar 22, 2017 13:05 |  #7

If he wants a work for hire contract, then the fee should reflect that. Most bands don't have the funds to purchase copyrights. In my opinion there is no point in working for these types of clients ever, they want many thousands of dollars worth of licensing and offer nothing in return.

Scott ­ Spellman
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Location: Royal Oak MI
Mar 22, 2017 15:25 |  #8

A music video or any video that contains music always has a separate copyright from any music that is included. Without a contract that specifies something else, the copyright belongs to the cameraman/director/cre​ator. Your contract where you keep copyright and license content should match the fee you offered. Another contract that specifies that you work for hire and transfer copyright to the client/band/label should have another and much higher fee. You can choose to work on other terms as long as you charge a fee that matches.

It is not uncommon in the music industry for clients to want copyright/ownership because it makes it easier for them. You should just make sure that your fees reflect the rights granted.

1,204 posts
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Joined Apr 2005
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Mar 22, 2017 17:02 |  #9

Copyright belongs to you UNLESS you EXPRESSLY give them up in your agreement. Copyright belongs to the pusher of the button, not the subject absent a relinquishment of those rights. (US)

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Mar 23, 2017 01:04 |  #10

"Work for hire" is not the default presumption of a photographer working under contract. "Work for hire" must be stipulated in the contract--not the other way around (although explicitly stipulating your own rights is never a bad idea).

... if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

https://www.copyright.​gov/circs/circ01.pdf (external link)

But be careful, because "expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them" might be fine print on the back of the check.

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Producer /manager for a music artist has a question about my contract
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