Corporate Video

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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ironside82
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Corporate Video

Post by ironside82 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:17 am

Hi,

I've just completed producing a corporate video and the client has asked if is it possible to copyright it.

I've not done this before or been asked to do it before so i'm enquiring into the processes involved,

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:22 am

You don't need to do anything. Copyright exists at the time something artistic is created. However, there are safeguards which are worth taking. You should make sure that somewhere in the video, amongst the credits there is a copyright notice and the year it was produced. You can use the © symbol, it's not mandatory in the UK, but it is recognised internationally. Also mark the media itself (CD or DVD) and any packaging wih the same statement. I assume this video was made in the UK and the company concerned is registered in the UK. If the video is likely to be distributed within the USA then you can register your copyright with the US Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov/). Full details of how to do this and the cost can be found on their website. Registering in advance of a dispute makes the process in the US courts simpler, assuming the alleged infringement occurs in the US, of course.
But possibly a more fundamental question is who is the copyright owner? You made this video which under normal circumstances makes you the owner of copyright. However the company which hired you is clearly going to be licensed to use it, and is probably the one with most to lose if the video is pirated by a rival company, so it makes sense for you to either issue them with an exclusive licence without time limitation, or assign the copyright to them. Assignment means to transfer the copyright entirely, just like selling a piece of physical property, and it must be done in writing. There are various forms you can download (see the link at the end), but so long as you draw up a simple document that includes that it is an assignement and to whom you are assigning the copyright, that should be sufficient. Normally an author who assigns his copyright should expect some additional payment for doing this, but as clearly you already have some agreement with the company which commissioned you, and in any case the video is not something you could sell to anyone else, it is probably not appropriate to try and negotiate an additional fee now.
Whatever you do about licensing or assigning copyright, you retain the moral right to be credited as the author - although in the case of films and broadcast programmes the term director or producer is more normal terminology. This should also be stated in the credits in the video, and on the media, packing etc. It is from that credit that you might expect to get other work from someone who sees the video. It is worth putting a sentence in either the licence or assignment document that you assert your moral right to be credited as the author (or director/producer).
Copyright in a film exists for the lifetime of the director plus 70 years from the end of the year of his death.
For the future, it is worth getting clued up on your intellectual property rights regarding any future films you make, because it's a complicated area, involving rental and sales rights, royalties, and subdivision of copyrights and rights to royalties amongst other contributors such as screenplay writers and composers of any music used. Even any 'actors' who appear have rights in their perforamnce! You can get some more details here: http://www.own-it.org/

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