Who Owns the Video I Made?

This is a very popular question we get asked. The reality is that different production companies will have their own terms and conditions. When terms aren’t clearly defined from the beginning, that is where you can run into uncertainties about who owns the footage. So regardless of what is written in the next few paragraphs, the most important advice we can give is to address the issue of ownership before you agree to anything.

We’re not lawyers, and the laws around copyright can be very complex. We can only speak from our experience creating video content for different organizations and uses. Our experience has taught us that just as clients will have certain terms and conditions in contracts, different production companies will also have different terms and conditions.

We like to think our terms and conditions are fair to both parties. However, when it comes to clients who already have their own set of terms, we are always willing to work together to ensure everyone is happy. In the majority of cases, there are never any issues. We like to think most production companies will be willing to compromise on most things as long as they are agreed upon beforehand.

Who owns the final video? And who owns all the footage?

The answer to these questions will change depending on the company producing your video (exactly why the question of ownership should be addressed at the start of the process). We can tell you what we do, and generally speaking, that is what most production companies do.

For us, it’s easy. We create a proposal that details exactly what we will supply, including the length of the video and where it will be shown. We then supply a final video based on those terms for the agreed-upon costs of everything included.

While we retain the artistic copyright, the use of that final video will be passed on to you. In 99% of cases, this is what happens, and it works great.

Problems arise when video usage changes. For example, if your video was originally intended to be used online but later decides to be used as a TV ad, this would be a change in usage. For this example, we would need a lot more time to discuss exactly how usage works, so for now, we’ll keep it short.

Video production is a creative industry, and unlike most industries that produce a product, we produce an idea instead. To produce that idea can involve 2 people or dozens of people. And like any industry, we have our own rules and standards. A key element of the rules is rates of pay. Depending on where that idea will be seen and how many people will see it will have a huge effect on those rates. The usage of a video is vital when getting a price and understanding it when you take ownership of that video.

When you make a video, it is the production company’s responsibility to ensure the usage rights needed for the video’s purpose are cleared. This includes permissions from those appearing on screen, music, voice-over, any external crew permissions, and location permissions. Indeed, some of these you might be able to supply yourself, but it is the production company’s responsibility to check.

On completion of the project, the video is yours. We pass these clearances over to you, safe in the knowledge that these details have been addressed and satisfied.

What if you decide to change the usage? Well, if you decide to change the usage of that video, it becomes your responsibility to make sure the clearances still apply.

In the majority of cases, there won’t be any extra costs, as usage costs will not apply. The most relevant time this would have a dramatic impact is if a video for online use suddenly is used for broadcast, like on TV. If you change how and where the video is used, we highly recommend checking with us, especially if the project features actors, voice-over artists, or music. Licensing costs will most likely be affected.

We recommend talking with us and getting our advice.

This brings us to the next popular question: who owns the raw footage? This is perhaps a little more controversial… You can read our article on that subject here!

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