Filmmaking / Directing : Uhoh- IP talk by Daniel Michael Nooney

Daniel Michael Nooney

Uhoh- IP talk

So who own the rights to footage? About 3 months ago I was helping a, at the time i thought, a friend who had asked me to DOP for a short film he wanted to make. I said sure, since this was his first time he would be doing anything regarding film. We shot on my camera and he wanted to edit the film himself, after me and two other people offered to help him with that as well, i gave him a copy of the footage. Soon after completing the film he decided to disappear leaving me to start up the IMDB page and the facebook page. During this 2 week hiatus the actors and producer started asking for dailies, to which I said I was unaware of what the director/editor was doing or even if he was working on it. 3 months later, today, I decide to upload some still images that were produced from my camera, through on my logo and started getting some likes from the actors. Then the Director/editor comes back with an announcement that he was starting the first phase of marketing the film. Moments later I receive a threatening text explaining that he was going to take action against me for posting the images. Keep in mind, no verbal or written agreement was mentioned or created. From my understanding the work that I help create would fall under the "fair act" law. However this seems to be a grey area. So my question is, who own the footage or the rights to share unfinished work. In now way have i sought a monetary value or received any money for this project and I am unsure if then I fall in lines of a work made for hire. Please advise if you can and thank you

David E. Gates

If you press the shutter on the camera, unless you have a specific contract that you're a photographer for hire and all shots are owned by someone else, YOU own the copyright of the images.

London Moquin

if you use your camera it counts as yours but it it is your cause you used your own cam

Daniel Michael Nooney

Well here inlies the problem, no contracts were signed, no agreements were made, however because its technically his story and his directing debut does that mean i fall under the lines of a work made for hire?

Michele Seidman

Fair use does not apply. No contract does. Possibly, Public space and no expectation of privacy applies, as well. The only way he might have a leg to stand on, is if the set was a closed set in a private location, and he had a written agreement to rent. That would make the location private, and anything shot there, in theory would need approval. But contract. He really has no leg to stand on. However, do keep in mind, it is standard for the Producers to control what still shots and behind the scenes get released. Just as a practice. You are in your rights, legally... but keep in mind, big film, they control all images, and you can get fired for doing that, if under contract. Covered this time..but cya down the line and develop habits that get ya hired, not fired! ;)

Michele Seidman

BTW, Fair Use relates to news, and educational work, mostly. Also to parody. It does not apply to this situation, other than the fact, these shots may have been taken in public (one of the news loopholes). You were on a set, of a film...not out in the general public (unless some shots were outside where anyone could snap photos). As soon as you gave him a copy of that footage, you also demonstrated (in effect) he had control and rights on that footage. Meant to add this last night when I answered...but was tired. He can't easily sue without you being under contracts or NDA's. Keep in mind...Set photographers are not allowed to post on set shots, without permission. After a project is released, most do not care...but until it is, your photos or shots, can give away information they want to control. Think of it this way... would you have been able to take those photos, without the access he created? If yes... no one would ever have a claim. If the only reason you have those shots, is because he brought in the cast and crew and got the sets and hired the wardrobe people, etc etc... you could never have taken those photos, without his creation. In that case... contract or not, he does have a legal leg...though it may not be worth the money to pursue.

Rick Jey

When it comes to business one has to handle every potential under a written agreement if the project looks to be more that a look at and pat on the back. That is just the way I do it. Thanks for sharing. (Rick)

David Raynor

The copyright of the film is owned by the scriptwriter, unless he or she is paid for the script by a film company in which case the film company or person who came up with the $$$$ owns the script and therefore the film copyright. But only for this film, unless otherwise stated in a contract. So if the director wrote the script then he or she owns the copyright.

David E. Gates

Without any agreement in place, you own the footage. Tell him to do one.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Based on the comments above, I'd advise you to do one of two things. Either drop it all together right now (invest absolutely no more time and energy) or try to reasonably work it out with him. But based on my reading of the what you've told us about him, I'd say 'working it out reasonably' will probably fail. You put time and effort into bringing his project to life. Then he took the footage, cut the film, and reappeared only to send you a threatening message. In other words, he could have contacted you and tried to work things out but instead, chose to reject that and go confrontational. So I'd say save your time and energy for something with better prospects. I'll add that I'm surprised that your producer has not tried to help sort things out. You might discuss with him/her the possibility of making an effort to do so. Lastly, if you want to add any of the material to your reel, I'd do so without hesitation.

Mark Mooney

It is a grey area, you own the copyright for all the footage until you have signed it over to the director, BUT the content is owned by the director/producer, the story by the writer. So, technically you are allowed to show the pictures but cant include the title of the film or anything about it with said photo...

Nicholas Jordan

Yes exactly as Douglas Eugene Mayfield states — we might want to add to send a letter I accept or go to convoluted hoop-jumps but with no verbal or written agreement was mentioned or created basically we can take it the persons only substantive intent is to protect whatever rights may be sustainable ~ and I find none so chalk it up to experience

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