Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Open Forum › Store renting our DVD without permission/agreement in place.
- This topic has 20 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 12 years, 9 months ago by Anonymous.
June 22, 2008 at 2:26 AM #43763AnonymousInactive
We are an uber low-budget (basically no-budget) filmmaking group that has made a couple of short films in the last few years. All of the films have screened at local festivals and in the process we’ve managed to author and sell dvd’s of the finished product from our website.
It was recently brought to our attention that a local video store is renting one of our films. Unfortunately, they are doing so without our permission. Someone affiliated with the store bought a copy of the film from our website some months ago.
We aren’t looking to get rich, but we do have an asset to protect and it seems rather sneaky go about procuring rental product in this manner.
We haven’t contacted them yet as we are trying to determine the best course of action.
Anyone have experience dealing with this kind of situation or something similar or any thoughts on how to proceed?
June 22, 2008 at 2:41 AM #183338AnonymousInactive
I haven’t dealt with something similar; I guess my question/thought would be what “rights” did you assign when someone purchased the DVD or did you make it clear that purchased copies were for home use only?
Regardless, sorry to hear it… That just can’t be comfortable at all.
June 22, 2008 at 2:55 AM #183339AnonymousInactive
Thanks for the reply… We don’t have anything specific on our website (and I’ve never seen anything in my travels in cyberspace), but the DVD has the following when it loads:
The motion picture contained in this DVD is protected under the copyright laws of the US and other countries.
This DVD is sold for home use only and all other rights are expressly reserved by the copyright owner of such motion picture.
Any copying or public performance of such motion picture is strictly prohibited.
Not sure if that covers us or not… we’ve been trying to research on the internet and can’t find much at all on the subject – most of it relates to rental agreements for distributors and of course they setup an agreement regarding the number of units andpayments.
June 22, 2008 at 3:57 AM #183340
got evidence? get it.
Did you register the copyright? sue em. they know better.
if you didn’t register, send them a bill, demand a reasonable payment and a written contract to sign (agreeing to pay you). If they sign it and send payment take it, If they don’t send a cease and decist letter. (have it notarized).
June 22, 2008 at 4:17 AM #183341AnonymousInactive
The sequence is
Send a seize and desist letter (helps if a lawyer sends it)
Contact the store about licensing the video.
In all likelihood, if the store receives a letter to stop renting your vid, they’ll probably pull it off the shelf. I’m not sure that’s what you really want.
If your letter says “stop renting it without my permission”, you might also want to offer a get-together so that they can get your permission.
June 22, 2008 at 4:30 AM #183342
Cops carry guns because yelling “STOP! or I’ll yell STOP again” is no deterrent.
If you registered your copyright, and have proof of infringment you can sue for considerable damages.
That will deter them from stealing from others, as well. If you didn’t register, you’re pretty much having to settle for what you can negotiate, or just have it off the shelves.
I make my living with my work. I don’t view it as being much different from any other type of theft.
If somebody kicked down my door, entered my home, and tried to steal the food off my childrens plates, I’d react.
how is stealing the food before it reaches my childrens plate any different?
in one scenario, I’d feel justified picking up a gun. In the other, I pick up the phone and call my lawyer.
June 22, 2008 at 4:44 AM #183343AnonymousInactive
I agree that it’s theft.
If you have actually tried to sue a store, as you suggest, please tell us how successful you were.
Just so you know, everytime someone says “I’ll sue”, everyone else pretty much knows that the guy is full of it.
If a videomaker uses a copyright song in his video, the copyright holder will send him a letter saying “stop it. NOW.” If it’s pretty evident that the videomaker was deliberately ripping off the copyright holder (i.e. compiling songs onto a cd & selling for profit) then they might serve him with court papers, but remember the guy is probably poor to begin with, so there’s nothing to gain by suing.
To suggest the lawsuit before finding out the facts doesn’t make immediate sense to me. I’m all ears though. Please stick to legal issues and options related to copyright licensing.
June 22, 2008 at 6:07 AM #183344AspyriderParticipant
If I’m not mistaken Video stores can’t just go buy a movie and rent it. They have to go through a company and license the copy for rental. I’m not sure if there is some law but I don’t think they can just rent anything.
Videos you rent usually have a ton of commercials at the beginning, buy the same movie and it doesn’t. I thought this was because the rental was made for distribution only.
June 22, 2008 at 2:12 PM #183345
“Just so you know, everytime someone says “I’ll sue”, everyone else pretty much knows that the guy is full of it”
That’s not very business savvy. google “Apple” and “legal”, “lawyer”, or “court”.
The more valuable your products are the fiercely you have to protect.
A smart businessman will settle this matter out of court, but usually the infringer needs to know what a court case will cost him, before he’ll pay something reasonable.
In either case, the poster asked for advice, he will hopefully explore all options available to him, and make the desicion he feels is right.
The video store owes him something. It’s up to him to decide whether or not it’s worth pursuing.
Also the last two people that tried stealing from me are both out of business. I put them out.
One local photography store owner, started stealing my work and selling it… 2/3 of his customers left him, when word got out, (he told them, after I started proceedings) the other third left him when he tried smearing me. Bad mouthing people is bad for business, suing isn’t.
the other was a drug dealer that set up in our old neighbourhood, his junkie friends tried to break-in to my home….I set up a neighbourhood watch, and bought video cameras for nine houses, completely encircling them, with surveilence.
People in my town know better than to steal from me.
June 22, 2008 at 3:00 PM #183346
ps: the store owner situation never went to court. and I never got a dime.
I do enjoy some sense of satisfaction, these days though. Every time I see him, he diverts his eyes from mine, lowers his head and goes about collect shopping carts at the local Walmart.
June 22, 2008 at 9:05 PM #183347AnonymousInactive
First, thank you to everyone who posted responses!
Second, after some feedback on another forum and some copyright law review it appears that the rental company was fully within their rights to buy a copy of the DVD (which they did pay for) and use it as a rental item. Illegal for music cd’s, but ok for movies.
This was uncharted territory and now we are a little wiser and will try to move forward and make the best of the situation. At the end of the day I guess it is never a bad thing that people are watching our film!
June 23, 2008 at 3:16 AM #183348AnonymousInactive
First, thank you to everyone who posted responses! Second, after some feedback on another forum and some copyright law review it appears that the rental company was fully within their rights to buy a copy of the DVD (which they did pay for) and use it as a rental item. Illegal for music cd’s, but ok for movies. This was uncharted territory and now we are a little wiser and will try to move forward and make the best of the situation. At the end of the day I guess it is never a bad thing that people are watching our film!
Absolutely – the more widespread the better (especially if those who see it like it and start looking for more)
June 24, 2008 at 12:34 AM #183349AnonymousInactive
Please give us particulars. How was the photographer stealing from you, and what was the basis of your lawsuit? Did you have to hire a lawyer, or did you go to small claims court? In which state did this occur?
How was the rental store sanctioned to rent your work without your permission? Did you not hold a copyright to your own work? Were you working for someone else when you made the video? The details are very important for the rest of us.
Walking into any situation and saying “do what I say or I’ll sue” makes you look inconsequential. If you have the law to support you, tell the guy who you are, why you are there, and what authority you have to stop him. From that point, approach it from a business standpoint, and get all agreements in writing.
June 27, 2008 at 8:27 AM #183350
The place was a one hour photo/camera store. The owner offered me a discounted price if I opened a store account.
Some time later he offered to put up some Wedding shots on his wall to make referrals of wedding prospects to me.
I later found out he was making multiple prints off my negatives, and selling copies (even inked a deal with a german film manufacturer).
I sent a mytsery shopper in to ask questions, and that person asked about wedding photography, pointing at the photos on the wall, and was told that my prices were a rip off, and he would shoot the wedding under the table for half the price. He was using my work to lure customers in, then baiting and switching.
I reported him for fraud. I consulted a lawyer. I had some notarized letter sent off. I was told I could sue for damages, slander and copyright infringement. I didn’t have enough money for a retainer, so I sent him a letter stating my intent to sue, quoting some of the points the lawyer had informed me of.
He responded by threatening to put me out of business, and started slandering me to everybody who walked in the door.
My understanding is the film manfacturer put him out of business by yanking thier deals, and calling in loans on a $175,000.00 mini lab. after they caught wind (from him) of a scandal involving copyright theft….
He went bankrupt before I could raise the lawyers retainer.
He did it all to himself.
June 28, 2008 at 2:20 PM #183351
Two excerpts of interest full copy and credit to CNN at this page:
“Troyer’s suit claims that release of an excerpt of the tape was an invasion of privacy and copyright infringement. He is also seeking the return of all copies of the video”
“The celebrity Web site posted the short segment on its site Wednesday; Troyer sued the site and porn distributors Thursday for $20 million in damages.”
July 16, 2008 at 5:19 AM #183352AnonymousInactive
“I didn’t have enough money for a retainer, so I sent him a letter stating my intent to sue, quoting some of the points the lawyer had informed me of. He responded by threatening to put me out of business, and started slandering me to everybody who walked in the door. …He went bankrupt before I could raise the lawyers retainer. He did it all to himself.”
So in other words, you sent him a letter with no legal weight at all, and he went out of business because a larger company feared the possibility of someone suing him?
I certainly don’t understand how you can sue for slander if someone merely underbids you for a job.
And I have no idea what Troyer’s case has to do with copyright issues… that’s a case of expected privacy.
July 16, 2008 at 10:42 AM #183353
I’m obviously wasting my time here.
I had legal grounds. Here in Canada. I could have enforced it. Not having money to sue, is not the same thing as not having grounds for action. I have money now. Don’t see anybody trying that crap now.
You obviously don’t have a clue, and are intent on being adversarial and contradicting me no matter what I tell you, the other poster already said (without explaining what he did to lose his rights, or how people on another forum are more right than people on this forum) he believes he has no rights.
And lastly, I stated a smart businessman will avoid court, but using it against somebody, that KNOWS (or due to thier business OUGHT TO KNOW) they are stealing or violating the law IS YOUR RIGHT.
So I’ll waste no more of my time on you.
July 16, 2008 at 12:37 PM #183354
As for the original poster:
Here’s a glimpse into the future for guys like you……
somebody gets your film and starts renting it out.
you have not registered your copyright.
you do nothing to protect your copyright.
Our Governments in thier infinate wisdom pass the new copyright legislation that’s been proposed with the “Orphaned Works” clause in it.
Somebody, who acted in your film hits it big and goes on to become famous.
Some distributer, or agent, or studio lays claim to your film as an “Orphaned Work” and sets up a distribution deal and makes millions.
You’re F@##$ed out of ANY cut of the profits because you abandoned the work. You failed to protect your copyright.
July 17, 2008 at 2:15 AM #183355ralckParticipant
Do youknow how weregisterourcopyrights?Or a betterquestionwould probably be… doesthegovernment (US in mycase,and Massachusetts if it’s a statematter) provideany kindofinformation on howtodo this?
Idon’t wantthishappeningtome (not thatit will…but bettersafethansorry!).
July 17, 2008 at 2:27 AM #183356
It’s different here in Canada…but similar.
A quick google let me to what MAY be the right place in the US: (link and excerpt provided, there is a Government Agency, if the link below isn’t the right one, then check under government services…)
In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:
- Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
- Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin.
- If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
- If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
- Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website athttp://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/import. Click on Intellectual Property Rights.
Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired.
Registration ProceduresOriginal Registration
To register a work, send the following three elements in the same envelope or package to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000
- A properly completed application form.
- A nonrefundable filing fee*for each application.
- A nonreturnable deposit of the work being registered. The deposit requirements vary in particular situations. The general requirements follow. Also note the information under Special Deposit Requirements.
- If the work was first published in the United States on or after January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best edition.
- If the work was first published in the United States before January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first published.
- If the work was first published outside the United States, one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.
- If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each package (e.g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.”
July 18, 2008 at 4:04 AM #183357AnonymousInactive
Don wrote “You obviously don’t have a clue,”
Switch to unleaded, dude.
The thing is, I frequently run into posers who talk loudly about “just getting a lawyer” when they have no clue what they’re talking about. I have also been up against very powerful entities that will be absolutely and clearly outside of the law, but hire a nasty lawyer who swears up and down in front of the judge that his client is humble, innocent, and pure, and that the law is “being misconstrued”, etc.
I have spoken to people who actually achieve results in David vs Goliath scenarios. Their strategy is ALWAYS
- Introduce self to offender
- Explain grievance
- state their authority (law X, EPA mandate Y, etc)
- Be cordial, get their way, have a laugh over beers with former offender.
I was hoping to gain such insight from you. Sadly I learned nothing.
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