How to handle a clients wish for copyright protected material as an editor?

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums Specialty Topics Legal Issues How to handle a clients wish for copyright protected material as an editor?

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    • #90817

      Hello people!

      I recently had a client who wanted me to quote for a project to remake a commercial of a major clothing brand. They basically re-shot the commercial and wanted me to put it together, creating some visuals etc..

      Am I correct that, even though I only work with footage provided by the director/producer, I would still be liable for copyrights violations in case the brand would find out and decide that there has been damages to their brand?
      If I would be liable.. how would you people handle it? How would we ensure the copyrights have been cleared? I mean.. it wasn’t inspired by that commercial.. it was basically all the same. Not the final edit.. I was free to interpret the edit from their storyboard..but all the clothing, logos etc… were being used.
      Do we just say ‘no’ to a project like that? Or is there a way around the responsibility, because obviously, we can never ensure that no copyright licenses will be broken by the use of the video.
      There could be licenses.. they might show them to us as proof.. of copy them.
      But we can never be sure what will be done with the video after it has been edited.
      It could be put online without the proper rights.. or maybe even sold in china as the real thing.. who knows.. would the editor be at risk as well for cut ‘n paste.. or just the brains and owner of the project?



    • #214248

      Create an agreement for your client to sign, stating that you are not legally responsible for the source of the content. The client is solely responsible for ensuring material provided does not infringe on copyright laws. By signing the agreement, the client is claiming to own all rights or have permission from the owners to use the material.

    • #214252

      In the UK that doesn’t work. A client cannot accept the responsibility for a civil offence carried out my you. So at best, you could have a document that said, we accept full responsibility for arranging the necessary releases for you to edit the material – go ahead and do it. If the copyright owner then complains and is really put out, then they take you to court. Your permission is mitigation, but you still did it.

      Me? I accept the document at face value and do the job. Take the money and if all hell breaks loose, then accept the consequences. I edited some material provided to my client by the BBC. The material was source stuff, unedited, supplied on a DVD with their branding and logo. I decided that clearly they had provided the material to the client in a form that required editing, and this was what the client asked me to do. I was prepared for trouble that didn’t come, but it could have? One of the risks of being in business.

    • #214258

      Well.. twice is a bit much!


      One more thing.. do you always credit yourself as the editor, even if you assume the video is breaking copyrights?

    • #214265

      Spend the few dollars it will cost to consult with an attorney. You’re placing yourself at considerable financial risk by re-working copyright protected materials. If you had handed your client a contract which specified that he had obtained clearances for all the materials, and he signed it without discussion, you could (probably) claim in court that you had no knowledge of information to the contrary.

      But you can’t claim that now. You do have knowledge that what you’re about to undertake is in violation of copyright. So you’re breaking the law with your eyes wide open.

      Seek the advice of an attorney, and follow it. No job is worth getting involved in a legal proceeding.

    • #214268

      Thanks Jack.. again, solid advice. I specifically stated that in the quote.. that he is to obtain the copyrights.. but I think a judge would never assume I had no ‘knowledge otherwise’.. that’s my problem. Like reasonable assumption. The brand is never going to give permission to use that material.
      I figured all videomakers have issues with copyrights, thought I’d ask.

    • #214302
      Kevin Mc

      RWS – for what it’s worth, I know in the US that you cannot create a contract that contradicts the law. So, any contract that supposedly protects you from legal action against something that is already law, such as existing copyrights, becomes an invalid contract. All other parts of the contract will stand up in court, but you can be liable for the sections which are not legal. I’m no attorney – so you’d want to speak with someone who knows better.

    • #214307

      Thanks Kevin,

      Yeah.. but that’s just it. How can the editor be held responsible for footage that he didn’t collect. He’s just the one putting it together. The editor would never be able to control what happens with that project after the video has been made. He doesn’t own any of it.
      I mean, sometimes you can assume that it breaks copyrights..but many times you can’t. I never shoot the footage. The client always provides it to me. So.. how can I be held responsible for copyright infringement.
      Anyways.. You never had issues with that? Well.. it’s different if you also use the camera. I guess.
      You then own the rights etc..

    • #214308
      Kevin Mc

      I think the problem you may be facing is the fact that you are aware of the situation. While you could claim ignorance in court, your client knows better πŸ˜‰

    • #214257

      Thank you for that.

      I accept your answer and realize that it will be hard to for a lawyer to prove my responsibility about what would happen with the product that actually damaged them.
      So.. a document makes sense.. although I am sure a lawyer knows his way around that. I think it’s the best we can do and then hide behind the fact that they can do whatever they want to with it after it has been made..

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