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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 20 Nov 2018 (Tuesday) 21:14
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Architect and Photographer

 
Architective
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Nov 20, 2018 21:14 |  #1

I'm in a bit of a unique situation with my employment and my side business (LLC). I've worked for a medium sized, local Architecture firm for the last 12 years, and am an Associate Architect with them. I like my job and have no plans of leaving. About 9 years ago, I started my architectural photography business to follow my creative passion, and also kindof as a parachute in case the bottom dropped out of the industry. Over the last years, particularly the last 5, the business has done really well.

I photograph projects for other Architects, General Contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and owners, and I do it on my own time. All processing is on my own time. I am very cautious to not put myself in a conflict of interest situation, and will turn down work that could do that. I can't lose my primary employment.

The rub is that I also photograph projects for my own firm. I usually try to do that on my own time, but that is not always possible. If I travel for them and do it on their time, I'm compensated for travel expenses and salary. I always process the images on my own time, and I use 100% my own equipment. After I do a shoot, I give copies of the shots to the firm to use in our marketing. Pretty sweet deal for them, especially because I've gotten very good. I usually turn over about 75 images on a shoot. I have not seen an extra dollar from them for this service I provide.

The deal I've been operating under, with a handshake, is that it is ok to sell these images on my own with no royalties to the firm. In an exchange for using my own time to process and use of my equipment, and still with them not paying me any extra to do this. I get approached a lot by our consulting engineers, contractors, suppliers and others to purchase and use these images. Which I have done.

I met with a trademark/IP attorney last week to start to formalize this deal into something more than a handshake. I do understand that the intellectual property created while working for them is technically theirs, but this is not in my hired job duties. My hope with the attorney is to create and agreement that we both sign that says that I, as the photographer, retain the copyrights to the images and allow their use. And as such, I am allowed to sell usage rights of the images to outside parties at my own discretion and without their knowledge.

The purpose of me posting this is two-fold. First, to see if anyone else has been in this situation, and also to see if is worth spending the ~$800 to have this one-pager drafted. Or if such an agreement already exists for my situation.

Thank you for the help.
mattO

mattophoto.net




  
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Dan ­ Marchant
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Post edited 1 month ago by Dan Marchant.
     
Nov 20, 2018 21:46 |  #2

I doubt you will find a generic form contract that suits your specific needs and, if you did, do you have sufficient IP law experience to know that it does the job? For that reason I would strongly suggest you get one drawn up properly because friendly agreements have a tendency to become less friendly when someone departs the company or they get bought or some new employee decides to make their mark at your expense.


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Wilt
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Wilt. (2 edits in all)
     
Nov 21, 2018 14:04 |  #3

(disclaimer: I am not an attorney, I claim zero expertise in the area of Intellectual Property)

I believe the key elements are pretty simple to be sure they are covered...


  1. The photographer, (your legal name), retains full copyright per laws according to the Copyright Law of the United States of America .
  2. The photographer has received no added compensation from (your employer business) which is associated with the photographic activities.
  3. (Your employer business) is provided free copies of the photos by (photographer), so that the business may promote its own business/service, at no additional charge.
  4. The photographer is permitted to sell copies or rights to use the photos, without any compensation paid to (your employer business)



Paying for two hours of legal consultation and associated clerical time seems rather inflated for such simple concepts.
(My wife has had to pay much less for legal work in association with trust law, of similar complexity.)

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Architective
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Nov 21, 2018 14:40 as a reply to  @ Wilt's post |  #4

Wilt - I think you did a great job summing that up. That's exactly what I want to document. I appreciate you spending the time on it.




  
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Dan ­ Marchant
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Nov 22, 2018 21:24 |  #5

Bangs head slowly and repeatedly on the desk....

Wilt wrote in post #18755836 (external link)
(disclaimer: I am not an attorney, I claim zero expertise in the area of Intellectual Property)

I believe the key elements are pretty simple to be sure they are covered...

  1. The photographer, (your legal name), retains full copyright per laws according to the Copyright Law of the United States of America .
  2. The photographer has received no added compensation from (your employer business) which is associated with the photographic activities.
  3. (Your employer business) is provided free copies of the photos by (photographer), so that the business may promote its own business/service, at no additional charge.
  4. The photographer is permitted to sell copies or rights to use the photos, without any compensation paid to (your employer business)


Paying for two hours of legal consultation and associated clerical time seems rather inflated for such simple concepts.
(My wife has had to pay much less for legal work in association with trust law, of similar complexity.)

Architective wrote in post #18755851 (external link)
Wilt - I think you did a great job summing that up. That's exactly what I want to document. I appreciate you spending the time on it.

Sorry but what you "want" to document is unimportant... it's what you need to document that is important. Wilt's post in no way covered the items that you need to document (because he knows nothing about IP law) and you have just accepted what he wrote because you don't know enough either. This is exactly why you need an IP lawyer who can draft an agreement that will actually provide the protection you need.


Dan Marchant
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Oct 09, 2019 02:55 |  #6

Dan Marchant wrote in post #18756735 (external link)
Bangs head slowly and repeatedly on the desk....

Sorry but what you "want" to document is unimportant... it's what you need to document that is important. Wilt's post in no way covered the items that you need to document (because he knows nothing about IP law) and you have just accepted what he wrote because you don't know enough either. This is exactly why you need an IP lawyer who can draft an agreement that will actually provide the protection you need.

I agree it is usually orders of magnitude more complicated. Depends on the value you're trying to protect.

Sounds like even the work for hire could be argued either way. Anything can be called into question and brought before a judge. You have to balance the worth of protecting your rights via lengthy contract or just having a "deal memo".

You could agree with your employer that all photos with their brand present or in their hosted space are theirs, everything else isn't. It sounds like that would be more defined than you have it now. if you find yourself in a grey area, just capitulate and adjust the agreement accordingly.

This is just going on the assumption that sometimes keeping it simple can work out for the best, and more so that bringing up secondary contracts with an employer might not sit well with management.


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tcphoto1
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Oct 09, 2019 09:24 |  #7

I think that you've shot yourself in the foot by doing the first shoot without a simple document, no compensation and or understanding of image ownership. They are holding the power and can claim Work for Hire, cut you off from shooting anything they're involved with and let you go simply because they perceive a conflict. Moving forward, an estimate is necessary for each shoot and why wouldn't you be paid separately for producing images? Especially if you have become "quite good" at it. You are performing a task that is beyond your job description, whether it's during business hours or not. Your Attorney is charging a high end fee to teach you about IP and write a simple document. Instead of processing and editing 75 images, I'd do the research on writing an Estimate, Invoice and Licensing Agreement. You are overdelivering and insulting all of us by not charging for your work.


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