Many people assume that since they have paid for the footage to be captured that they then have full rights to use it for any project in the future, making this assumption can lead to some surprises further down the road. After years of video production at Ocular, we know what to keep in mind.
Manage your video footage rights
The media used in your project can consist of video, still photos, graphics, music and audio sound bites. Often these are sourced by hiring someone to shoot specific interviews or b-roll (shots of other things that are relevant to the clip). Many people assume that since they have paid for the footage to be captured that they then have full rights to use it for any project in the future, making this assumption can lead to some surprises further down the road. Sometimes the rights to the footage are retained by the shooter, other times rights to reuse come with licence fees or expensive file retrieval fees, meaning that footage you thought you owned can't be used for another project. It's possible to avoid the pitfalls by following a few simple checks.
Checklist for footage rights agreements
When hiring someone to film footage for you
- Insist on retaining full and clear rights to the piece, get this as part of the agreement to film.
- Ensure that any personal release signed by the people onscreen includes clauses to cover future use in other related projects.
- Seek clarity over any future costs that will ensue if you use the footage on a new project.
- Contract that part of the service is to be provided a copy of the footage on a hard drive that you will retain. This will reduce archive retrieval fees and ensure you have a clean copy of the assets to hand.
Checking permissions about the onscreen elements
- Ensure that a film permit or permissions from property owners was obtained.
- Get talent personal release forms from the involved people, even people in the background of a shot will need to give permission if they are identifiable onscreen.
- Talent releases may only cover specific uses of the final piece, ensure you consider all future uses or get contact information so you can reapproach people if a new format or medium is required.
- Music and audio effects may have a restricted licence, both medium of use and number of times used, ensure you have a copy of the media licencing for your piece.
Footage rights for finished video projects
Once the project is finished get versions of the project in the required formats and ask for a copy of the editing project file, these can be delivered on the hard drive with all your raw footage. While it's unlikely you'll be able to edit the footage yourself, this file will provide a good start for another company to do so if required. Remember to track and store your hard drive of footage. If another company is to take the footage ask them to copy the drive and return it.