Just shot a wedding, now they want the rights...

HeartBeat Video's picture
Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Joined: 11/06/2012 - 9:11am

Hi there,


I recently shot a wedding, they wanted just the raw as her friends will do the editing at work, I didn't want to do it, never liked to deliver my raw but as I am starting in the business I needed the money, plus they got married in a gorgeous villa, he is handsome and she is beautiful, so I didn't want to miss the oportunity to have this wedding in my porfolio. I accepted to just shoot and deliver the raw. I went there, job done, no problem.


Couple months later they contact me again asking me how much I would charge them to edit the footage I took and all the rights.


Here is the thing, he is famous and she's even more (works on TV) and they want to make sure they have all the rights but I'm not willing to give them away that easy, also I do not want to rip them off.


I'm totally lost here and I really need help from you guys! Charging for the edit job is not an issue but what about the copyright? How much should I charge? Have you ever had this situation? They are waiting for an answer.


Please help!


German Paz

Brian Collins's picture
Last seen: 2 years 4 months ago
Joined: 02/12/2013 - 9:38pm

I have never shot a wedding commercially so I'm speaking from my experience as a facility owner that does local, regional and national commercials.  All work we do is considered work for hire.  It's understood that we don't own anything... The raw or the finished product.  I can't imagine that you have any ownership of someone's wedding footage unless it was specified in a contract.



Brian Collins

Atomic Pictures Inc

Birmingham, AL


hal9000's picture
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: 04/05/2012 - 2:35am

According to copyright laws, if it's a "work for hire" (i.e. they came to you for a job, hired you, and paid you) then you don't own the rights, the person who hired you does. Period. Unless you have some sort of agreement that was reached before you were hired (perferably in writing), you are out of luck. Sorry.

Jack Lee's picture
Last seen: 2 years 4 months ago
Joined: 07/17/2013 - 12:31pm

I'd say forget about it. It was their wedding, you had an agreement, and you gave them the footage.


Just put it down to experience, and plan the next one better.





Ed Rogers's picture
Last seen: 7 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 02/02/2008 - 2:35am
Plus Member

Since the original agreement was only for the unedited video, I'd negotiate what seems reasonable to all parties.  Photographers frequently claim copyright over their work.


That said, perhaps granting joint copyright ownership would be the best way to go.  I wouldn't charge them too much, unless you perceive that they may use your edited video to profit somehow...

Larry Spisak's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 07/17/2013 - 12:39pm

Since they came back to you for editing, they were abviously not happy with their other options. If their privacy is of great concern, I can understand that. But they are displaying some trust in your work ethic.


I would edit the video for them as well as you can and give them all the rights. It's a wedding video. Since they or at least she, is fairly well known, estabilsihing a rep with them as reliable and discreet could have it's advantages in referals to others in the same position.


Nothing brings back repeat business like trust. Besides which it makes a nice wedding gift and you still get paid.

Joseph Dellwo's picture
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: 05/20/2011 - 6:35pm

Charging for the edit would depend on what they want you to do with it. Consider how many hours are involved to finish the job, how many cameras you need to cut together, what the finished product would look like, how many graphics need built and what the final product will be delivered on. (i.e. dvd or blu-ray, or???)  If you overcharge them they might go elsewhere or give you a negative reference. I'm only putting this in a seriously large ballpark, but I would charge them about what I charged for the original shoot. But that's just me and my workflow.


As for the rights... I use a contract that is signed before-hand that outlines all the details of the job. This includes who owns the rights to do what with the product. I always reserve the rights to use my wedding work (stills and video) to promote my own business. You can find copies of contracts online and write your own based on those, although it is ALWAYS better to have a lawyer sign off on it before you put it into service.


Remember that not all rights are created equal. It would be worth it to clarify what they mean exactly by 'the rights' so you know what's on the line. Again, it's a balance between happy client and good word of mouth against having a beautiful and semi-famous couple on your wedding reel.

Harlin Brookes's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 06/16/2009 - 6:28pm

Just do a nice job at editing and put your credits on the end and let it go..I have a clause in my contract That states I can use parts of their video for demo purposes. Other than that I dont want it..keep looking ahead!!.

Best, Harry




Give the Bride What She Wants!

John Summerfield's picture
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: 05/15/2014 - 10:48pm

On this wedding, I would walk away. In future, get yourself a contract and have your B&G sign. I never do any work without one. Make sure you have the copyright clause in there. We all live and learn.


John Summerfield


Summerfield Films






shotgal's picture
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 11/21/2011 - 6:08pm

Don't you have license agreements or contracts?  This should have been discussed before the shoot.  In any event, you can still give them an unlimited personal use license, as well as obtain an agreement for your own promotional non-commercial use as part of the new negotiations.  If they want to take it all and levae you with nothing, maybe you can charge - but if you're getting to use it for your demo reel, then no charge.


If they are such big shots, they should have had respresentation, and you should have been professional and prepared much better.  

Laguna Hiker's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 05/27/2013 - 12:33pm
Plus Member

I'd second this comment. But I'd charge to release the rights to them. Right now, you own the rights to the video--it's not a work for hire, since you are not their employee--you are an independent contractor. If they are bona fide celebrities, they know how this game is played.


Now, the result would be different if there was a clear understanding from the outset that the raw footage was to be theirs. In that case, even if you could legally claim rights to the footage, I think you would be morally obligated to turn the footage over and walk away. And if they are friends of yours, that trumps everything. Give them the footage, and wish them a long and happy marriage.

Shaun's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 01/04/2011 - 2:40pm

I would just put it down to experience. It's not worth the fight and at the end of the day it's a shame you can't use the footage. I've been there and understand fully how gutting it is. Walk away and save yourself all the stress. Charge them a fair price to edit it and leave it at that. 


Feel for you bud. 




<a href="http://www.beautifullifeuk.com">Beautiful Life Wedding Videos</a> 

Larry Spisak's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 07/17/2013 - 12:39pm

Hey Shaun,


Thanks for teh comments. Understand though that it was not my original post. I was responding to the original poster, but I agree with you. Cut your losses and walk away.

HowardRobinson's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: 06/17/2014 - 11:10pm

Why do not you tell them that the editing part will be yours.Ask owner that you are a great video editor and this time when bride and groom are amzing and the decoration of house will be going to splendid which would be cherry on the cake;then it should be go for you only,You have to convenience them that the editing part will be superb if they allow you to do that.