Who Owns The Rights?

Photo rights and licensing
It’s a complicated mess of spaghetti. Let’s see if we can untangle it a bit.

First, Who owns the photo?

Photos and images are intellectual property. As such, photo ownership starts and almost always stays with the photographer.

“Hiring” a photographer doesn’t change the ownership.

So, what if you hire a photographer? Won’t this mean the photos belong to you?

Actually, no. Even when hiring a photographer for a dedicated photo shoot, the employment is typically a contractor relationship. Therefore the photographer will still be the owner of the resulting photos. The photographer may grant you an unlimited license for these photos, but legal ownership stays with the photographer.

Only if a staffer takes photos on the job, using your equipment, and on paid company time, will you, the employer, be considered the owner of the photos.

Your photo license is for you (not your contractors or the media).

So, as we mentioned earlier, professional photographers never sell a photo. Rather, they grant you permission (license) to use it. When licensing a photo, you do not own it.

You also do not have the right to give the photo to a third party to use. This is a very common misunderstanding. Say you’re an architect, and you paid a photographer to shoot your latest custom home, and you received a very open license to use those photos. A magazine calls and asks if they can use your photos in a story they’re running about you. The answer is a big NO. While you could use those photos in a print ad in said magazine, the magazine becomes the user of the photo when they are using it for their own editorial. So they should be negotiating their own license with the photographer. In the same example, if the builder who constructed your beautiful custom home asks for copies of those photos for his portfolio, the answer is also NO. The photo license is for you and you only.

How you use the photo often affects the price.

By purchasing a license, you are paying to use a photo in a very specific way. The photo’s permissions detail exactly how you can (and can’t) use the photo. Some permissions are very restrictive and are tied to a particular medium (i.e.: one regional magazine ad, one direct mail piece, one video, one television commercial, or a billboard at a single address), a particular time frame, or based on a number of views. Some permissions are for editorial use only (not advertisements). Or, permission may be more general (giving you free rein to use the photo on your website and in any emails you send).

The photo isn’t exclusively yours to use (unless you pay extra).

In most cases, when buying an image from a stock agency, you will be granted non-exclusive rights for that photo. This means that this photo may be legally found on many other sites, billboard, direct mail pieces, or newspaper ads. Some agencies will offer to sell you exclusive rights, or semi-exclusive rights (often based on a geographic region). You definitely pay more for this type of exclusivity.

Stock photography is (usually) a good route to take.

Often, an agency such as Corbis or Getty Images will license rights in batches using a model known as stock photography. The stock photography market is well known, inexpensive, and an efficient method for securing usage rights to a wide variety of photography.

Buying photography from an unknown source can be risky. There is nothing that stops a disreputable “stock” agency from building a website, hosting it offshore, and selling rights to images they do not own.

Likewise, it is dangerous to trust web sources offering “free” stock photography or clip art, as those images may have been shared many times and are, in fact, the intellectual property of someone else.

Keep that receipt…it’s a contract.

A receipt from a stock agency that details permission granted (for consideration) will be a valid contract. That contract should always state how much the owner or agency is being compensated, and which permissions are being granted.

The contract will most likely be restricted by medium (website, email, direct mail, brochure), resolution, instance count (website views, brochures printed), or it may require you to list a photo credits or link back to the owner/photographer.

It is prudent to keep detailed records of your photography license purchases. It will be important to produce valid proof of usage if your licensure is ever challenged by the owner of the image.

Protect yourself (and the photographer) with your copyright notice.

When placing a copyright notice at the bottom of a website, you, the website owner, are declaring that you have the rights to display everything on the site. That copyright notice typically also declares to the public “all rights reserved” — placing others on notice that the owner will defend ownership of that content.

Keep in mind that if you are licensing some content from another owner, it may also be prudent to add a phrase like “Names, images, or likenesses of other companies, products and services are used by permission and are the property of their respective owners.

What to do if you get a nasty letter.

Large stock agencies have legal and technical staff dedicated to sniffing out illegal users of their images. Not to mention sophisticated software which hunts down infringing use of their photography. The technology gets better all the time, and the legal precedence is established.

If you receive a demand for payment, or a “cease and desist” letter from a copyright owner:

1. Consider the source. If the letter is not from one of the well-known stock agencies, be aware that it could be a scam.

2. Clear the air. You can quickly set things right if you can produce your proof of license and show that you are using the photo within the agreed-upon terms.

3. Employ damage control. If you are caught using a photo without proper license, consult your attorney. Your attorney will be able to help determine that the “copyright owner” is the legitimate owner or agent of the copyrighted content. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to reduce the demanded payment. You may also save money by electing to pay the fine outright. But, remember, the fee is not a license. Once the fee is paid, make sure to license the image properly or cease usage.

Finally, archive your assets.

It can be difficult to track purchased imagery and supporting documentation together, all in one place. If you are interested in a cloud-based, workgroup- friendly solution to this problem, ask us about asset archiving solutions.

What is the Cost of Video Production?

This article was written by by Lee Frederiksen, PH.D.

In the past, professional-grade video has been an expensive proposition. Shooting, editing and production required specialized equipment and expertise. Now, you have many more options, from low-cost do-it-yourself video blogs to polished corporate overviews. Fortunately, advances in technology have made even professional videography more affordable than ever. While the bromide “you get what you pay for” still applies, businesses today can get a higher quality product for their money. At the same time, our plugged-in business world is far more receptive to video messages. Online video is gaining momentum every year, and it has entered marketing’s mainstream.

How Much Will it Cost?

That’s the new first question that professional services firms are asking about online video. It wasn’t always that way.

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The question used to be “Why would I want to?” or “How would I use it?” But with the explosion of online video the questions “Why?” and “How?” no longer come up very often. The benefits and uses are becoming self-evident.

The correct answer to the cost question is always… “it depends.” Let’s look at what drives online video cost and how to develop an appropriate budget for your needs.

What Drives the Cost of Online Video?

There are three basic factors that drive productions costs. These factors eventually get reflected in dozens of small budget decisions that impact the quality of the final product.

Time. The more time that is spent in pre-production planning, scripting, location scouting, shooting, special effects and editing the better the final product will be. Adding more people to the production team also increases the total time spent on the project. More time, from more people, equals more money.
Talent. The greater the talent of the people working on the project, the better it will be. In online video production, as with most things in life, talented and experienced people tend to cost more.
Tools. You can produce a video with your cell phone. Or you can use a high-end camera with a professional lighting kit and sophisticated cost-production motion graphics and animation. Sophisticated tools and the top-level professionals who know how to use them add cost.
Taking these cost drivers into account we can identify five distinct levels of quality and cost.

Five Levels of Online Video Quality and Cost

1 – Amateur

Description – The do-it-yourself approach using basic consumer video equipment and self-taught talent. Think YouTube.

Benefits – Fast and inexpensive
Risks – The results often look amateurish and can erode credibility if you’re not careful.
Best Uses – Internal training and personal blogs.
Cost for 1-2 Minute Video – Free, once you have the basic gear (and these days, who doesn’t?).

2 – Semi-Pro

Description – Requires someone with some experience or training using somewhat more sophisticated tools (e.g., prosumer camera and video editing software). Talent level is variable and time commitment is often low. Think part-time wedding photographer or hobbyist.

Benefits – Better quality and very affordable.
Risks – Wide variations in quality. Often boring to watch.
Best Uses – Video blog posts, capturing educational events, internal training.
Cost for 1-2 Minute Video – $1,500 – $3,000

3 – Professional

Description – Solid professional team using professional tools and average level of time. Think typical corporate online video.

Benefits – Predictable quality that conveys basic credibility. No apologies needed.
Risks – May not be exceptional or stand out from the growing crowd.
Best Uses – Case studies, profiles, service or process descriptions, recruiting video.
Cost for 1-2 Minute Video – $5,000 – $20,000
SEE ALSO: B2B Video Marketing Tips

4 – Premium

Description– Add top-level talent, high-end tools (such as motion graphics, high-end cameras, a studio) and more time to the mix to elevate a professional production to something exceptional. Use this production level to tell a compelling story and capture maximum attention. Think “Wow!”

Benefits – A ‘stand out’ piece. This is the kind of video that generates buzz, sets you apart and wins awards.
Risks – Greater cost means you must have confidence in the team and their ability to produce the quality you seek.
Best Uses – Signature pieces such as overview videos, credibility-building case studies, recruiting videos or service introductions.
Cost for 1-2 Minute Video – $25,000 – $50,000

5 – Hollywood

Description– Top level, top talent, no-compromises approach. Think ultra-premium movie trailer, Superbowl.

Benefits – Competitive at the highest level. Suitable for the largest global firms.
Risks – In view of the costs, you must be clear and certain of the need.
Best Uses– High-end advertising or compelling signature piece for a firm.
Cost for 1-2 Minute Video – $100,000 – $1,000,000 plus
Selecting the Appropriate Budget Level

Before you can set a budget for online video you need to clarify what you want to accomplish and determine what resources you have available to you.

For instance, do you want to increase credibility, build your brand, attract new clients or recruit new staff? Do you have an interesting story to tell? For these types of tasks, you’ll typically need professional or premium level of quality to get a satisfying end product. If your firm has sufficient resources and wishes to compete at the highest level, a top-drawer studio production will tell your story with incomparable style and class.

If you are simply conveying information to an interested audience, the professional level is often sufficient without sacrificing credibility.

Smaller firms or independent practitioners with limited budgets may have to accept lower production values, but even at these levels video can provide real impact.

As you make decisions about video, be realistic about your expectations. Do not expect to pay a semi-pro rate and get a pemium product.