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TheDynamo
06-29-2007, 10:38 AM
This is for both my Salary job and my freelance work. Every nerve in me screams out against it, I know my employer probably charged the client for it but I'm sure it's not enough. If this was some of my higher end work I would be personally concerned about my work ending up on someone else's demo reel. Argh!

What are your guys' policies on this stuff?

-Dyn

ShawnStovall
06-29-2007, 10:48 AM
I agree, I would put some copyright in it or something just so people know it's yours.

Steve Warner
06-29-2007, 11:02 AM
In most cases when the client wants the source files, they just want the security of knowing that they can make changes themselves if they need to. But in my experience they rarely have the skills to do so. That's why they hired you.

When I did work for the Army they required that I turn over all source files when the work was complete. However the Air Force only requires us to turn over the end product. We retain the rights to the source files. You need to negotiate ownership before taking the work because it can be a huge point of contention when the work is done.

I've heard that some of my work has turned up on the History channel, so the possibility exists that your work will go into other hands if you turn over the source files. A copyright is nice but it's hard to prove in court, especially if ownership is transferred in the contract (or specific usage isn't stated up front).

If you have to turn over source files as part of the contract, I'd simply raise the cost. As one of my early mentors told me, "Don't *****. Bill."

RonGC
06-29-2007, 11:26 AM
Steve is absolutely right. I work in the video field not animation, but my standard contract plainly states that all content shot by me is under my copyright and belongs to me. However it also states that any content with their copyrights, such as company logos, etc, will not be used for any other clients project.

Copyrights work two ways.

If the client wants to keep said content then they are going to have to pay extra and possibly royalties if the need should arise.

Now if you agreed to accept the job and did not have a copyright ownership clause in your contract then you are kind of stuck, just charge extra for the time and costs of getting said content to the client.

Ron

TheDynamo
06-29-2007, 11:27 AM
In this particular case I'm not worried about who gets this particular group of files since most of them aren't reel worthy. The story goes is that the client chose another agency to represent them and wants us to send our source files to them. I know we charged them something but frankly I don't know what (and I'm sure it's not enough). This just feels weird since I really am not in a position to bill more for it since legally I'm an employee and the work is the property of my employer. It's something that I hope does not happen often.

-Dyn

ShawnStovall
06-29-2007, 11:46 AM
:grumpy: That is definitely a rock and a hard place...

RonGC
06-29-2007, 11:58 AM
You cant sweat situations that are not under your control, ulcers await you down that path. You got paid and thats a good thing, have a beer and put it behind you.

These type of situations don't happen daily but every once and a while, just enough to bug you. It bugged me enough, that i wanted to have more control and so i started my own company.

Ron

TheDynamo
06-29-2007, 12:50 PM
These type of situations don't happen daily but every once and a while, just enough to bug you. It bugged me enough, that i wanted to have more control and so i started my own company.


Give me 2 years ;) I've already started the wheels turning on that. I just have to grow the freelance networking.

-Dyn

omeone
06-29-2007, 01:41 PM
Maybe the client will be unsatisfied with their new agency, so don't risk bunring bridges - hand them over with a smile (and protect yourself in future ;) )

Steamthrower
06-29-2007, 02:33 PM
This is why I always put comments inside web pages I design. My clients are high-profile companies and the pages look really good and have high visibility - which makes it easy for people to steal your code just like that.

It's amazing how often people swipe code, and if they're lazy enough to not go through it looking for comments it's amazing how often you'll find *your* work on *their* site.

It's life. People are people, and people are crooked. Most of 'em anyway.

tfrank
06-29-2007, 05:05 PM
This is for both my Salary job and my freelance work. Every nerve in me screams out against it, I know my employer probably charged the client for it but I'm sure it's not enough. If this was some of my higher end work I would be personally concerned about my work ending up on someone else's demo reel. Argh!

What are your guys' policies on this stuff?

-Dyn

As an employer, there is a signed piece of paper that all of our employees sign, from creative to sales to secretarial, that anything they produce under our employment is owned by the company they work for. As one working for a company who does buy animation on a regular basis lately (about 20 this week)...things done in AE and other platforms...we make it clear up front that we are buying the files so that we may modify them later to satisfy our current needs. As a producer of "copyright" material, as soon as the client's check clears, we consider the material his. He was billed for the time and effort.

ingo
06-30-2007, 03:30 AM
Well since you are "only" an employer this is just normal behaviour, maybe sad for you but you can't do anything against it. It happended to me too in my early years working for a big architecture company.

Just take care that you have the end result so you can present it later when you are freelancing, and take care that you are allowed to use that material later since your boss owns the copyright of "your" animation. And as stated before hand over the material with a smile and be helpful to the other guys, you don't know what the future brings.

Red_Oddity
06-30-2007, 04:58 AM
Not sure how it works in the rest of the world, but Dutch copyright works a little different.
We don't really have copyrights here as you know it (hence the little (c) won't hold up in court), but we do have something called auteursrecht (authors right) which basically goes like so :


From Wikipedia:

Aside from those mentioned above, there are a few legal differences between auteursrechten and copyrights. One noticeable difference is that auteursrechten grants more rights to employees over intellectual and other property created at work. Artists and musicians (not just the company with distribution rights) are also granted the right of resale, which means they are entitled to a royalty each time a copy of the work is published or exhibited. This is known as naburige rechten (literally "neighboring rights").

Auteursrechten, like the French idea of "droits d'auteur", implies not only legal but also moral rights. An author is theoretically given, in addition to the right of ownership, the right to be recognized for the work rather than being criticized for it. Regardless of whether property rights are allocated to the publisher or to the author, the author retains this moral right.


That aside, we make it rule of thumb to never ever give away source footage just like that (it is always possible to discuss it offcourse and we might do so).
When doing jobs it is a good thing to send (and i'm not sure how it called in english) your 'algemene voorwaarden' / 'general terms of service?' along with the very first budget indication.

Puguglybonehead
07-01-2007, 12:35 AM
OK, the simple truth is, when you (meaning your company) are contracted to do creative work for someone else, then the things that you create under that contract belong to the client, who is the one paying to have the work created. You were hired to create for someone else. What you create on your own time, for your own pleasure belongs to you 100%, but what you create when under contract to someone else does not belong to you.

That's the reality of the situation. Always has been, even back in Michaelangelo's day. Do you think all the work he did on the Sistine Chapel belonged to him? No. It belonged to the Church, because they were the client who were paying him to create the artwork for them.

I used to work as a designer for a bag company, designing messenger bags, radio holsters, u-lock belts, etc... I did good work. The things that came out of my tiny brain were pretty inventive and I was proud of my work, but what I created belonged to my employer, not to me. My employer hired me, on contract, to design and invent for them, so what I created while I was there belongs to them. That's the ethical reality of creative work.

If you want to retain ownership of your own work, then you need to become self-published (not just self-employed). You would have to release and market your own work. That is the only way to truly 'own' whatever you create.

archijam
07-01-2007, 05:26 AM
If printing technology existed, and the Sistene Chapel was actually a billboard sized render (from LW, for example), Michaelangelo would SO not have given them the LWS and LWO files. Or the mudbox layers.

The fact is he painted it in THEIR 'office', on site. He didn't answer to a client, so much as a 'boss'. I think this analogy is a bit off- employer and client are often different things in this day and age.

j.

hdace
07-01-2007, 09:49 AM
If printing technology existed, and the Sistene Chapel was actually a billboard sized render (from LW, for example), Michaelangelo would SO not have given them the LWS and LWO files.

I'm afraid that is simply not true. I've been a TV & film professional for 23 years. Puguglybonehead & tfrank are the only ones on this thread who know what they're talking about.

If someone pays you to do something, that person owns it. They own everything you did, no matter what, no matter what country you're in, no matter how darn creative you are, no matter what medium or media involved (including web design). Just shut up and hand over the LWSs & LWOs.

The only right you have is that you can show your work on reels. They can't stop you from doing that. If you were a runner on Star Wars, you have the right to show a clip on your reel.

Matt
07-01-2007, 09:59 AM
At Creactive where I work, upon payment the client owns the design, but unless they own the software that we created the stuff in, they rarely ask for the source files.

Wonderpup
07-01-2007, 10:11 AM
The only right you have is that you can show your work on reels. They can't stop you from doing that. If you were a runner on Star Wars, you have the right to show a clip on your reel.

Sorry to hijack a bit, but you're the first person I've seen state this so confidently- have you ever seen this right tested in the real world? Are there limits to it- for example, if your reel were on a website, would this still apply do you think?

The law in this area, at least in the uk, seems a bit fuzzy to me- I can't seem to get a difinitive statement anywhere as regards the use of my own commercial work for self promotion purposes.

Titus
07-01-2007, 10:41 AM
If printing technology existed, and the Sistene Chapel was actually a billboard sized render (from LW, for example), Michaelangelo would SO not have given them the LWS and LWO files. Or the mudbox layers.

Mmmh, I'm not sure of the analogy. Michaelangelo was locked inside de Sistine Chapel by the pope until the work was finished. Michaelangelo suffered a physical pain no CG artists will ever have. The pope owned Michaelangelo, not only his art.

Original1
07-01-2007, 11:07 AM
Summary of UK property law is here

http://www.jisclegal.ac.uk/ipr/IntellectualProperty.htm

The legal argument would hinge on whether the work is an artistic work or a computer generated work, if it is judged to be a computer generated work then copyright resides with the client for whom it was created, if it is judged to be an artistic work them copyright resides with your employer if you are an employee, however if it is normal accepted industry practice(which it is in UK) for you to be able to use clips on your demo reel, it would be argued in court that this was fair use and not a breach of copyright. Most demo reels are shown in private and not in public and the vast majority of copyright holders would not waste their time suing the creator of their work simply cause they might need you again the future so I would tend not to worry about it

gaushell
07-01-2007, 11:35 AM
Our contract gives us the copyright, but full usage rights to the client for the final illustrations, animations and videos - so long as we are properly credited.

We do not give out source files. In our instance it would be a nightmare as there are some 3d models and image maps we purchased and don't have the right to give away (that violates a copyright with their original owner). Plus, they paid us for the output, not the source files.

Our contract is clear that storyboards, source files, etc. are owned soley by us.

I've only had one client in 15 years as for access to the source files - he had been screwed by someone at some point - even then, we changed the language (one time only) where they would get stripped down models and scenes. And of course we charged extra.

Titus
07-01-2007, 11:54 AM
Maybe you can give the source files in a format ready for rendering but not suitable for midifications, like RenderMan binary RIBs.

*Pete*
07-01-2007, 12:08 PM
I'm afraid that is simply not true. I've been a TV & film professional for 23 years. Puguglybonehead & tfrank are the only ones on this thread who know what they're talking about.

If someone pays you to do something, that person owns it. They own everything you did, no matter what, no matter what country you're in, no matter how darn creative you are, no matter what medium or media involved (including web design). Just shut up and hand over the LWSs & LWOs.

The only right you have is that you can show your work on reels. They can't stop you from doing that. If you were a runner on Star Wars, you have the right to show a clip on your reel.

That is not true.

If for example you would make a bottle scene for a customer to see how the logo would look like on it, you will deliver only the finished image when paid, not the lwo of the bottle itself, not the lighting setup that took you years to learn, and not the shaders that took forever to get to look right.

if you would be foolish enough to deliver these to the customer..every new logo he would like to see on the bottle, would be a simple thing as to change the texture..and he would get a perfect render, everytime he wants.

we, 3D artists are in a special position..since a lot of our work is in the form of virtual objects that can be transfered...other artists do not have these kinds of objects..they have the paint brushes, pencils and loads of personal experience.

even if they would hand over the paint brushes and pencils, they still would have work next week, with the same client...becouse nothing can be reproduced without the personal experience these artists carry with them.


as for employed artists..i am sure that it is the same case..if you are hired to produce images, youre not bound to give away any modells or scenes that you use to make them...

if for example youre hired as a truckdriver at a factory, you cant be put to work in a office, in the same factory, against your will.

the contract that hired you into the factory should state that your work responsibility will be truckdriving....not making coffey, not modelling, not anything you didnt agree on to do.

shrox
07-01-2007, 12:22 PM
You could give them a zip file with a password. Then charge for the password.

gaushell
07-01-2007, 12:33 PM
I'm afraid that is simply not true. I've been a TV & film professional for 23 years. Puguglybonehead & tfrank are the only ones on this thread who know what they're talking about.

If someone pays you to do something, that person owns it. They own everything you did, no matter what, no matter what country you're in, no matter how darn creative you are, no matter what medium or media involved (including web design). Just shut up and hand over the LWSs & LWOs.

The only right you have is that you can show your work on reels. They can't stop you from doing that. If you were a runner on Star Wars, you have the right to show a clip on your reel.

That is only partially true - That is a work for hire contract which is standard in many industries. But is not required by law.

We however, refuse to do that. We maintain ownership of all source files and all copyrights. We give the client full usage rights to avoid problems. 99% of the time, they don't want to have to pay you every time they want to use the final images/animations/videos.

So it is a choice when you do work for someone that you have to make.

So that is my 15 plus years of experience and thousands of projects.

RonGC
07-01-2007, 12:45 PM
It Depends on the contract you have signed by the client, i personally do not use a you can have everything contract, if they want all the video content, they will have to sign a specific contract for that which is a lot more money.

Maybe 3d is different from Video production, but contract law is still in effect.

Ron

archijam
07-01-2007, 02:15 PM
Mmmh, I'm not sure of the analogy. Michaelangelo was locked inside de Sistine Chapel by the pope until the work was finished. Michaelangelo suffered a physical pain no CG artists will ever have. The pope owned Michaelangelo, not only his art.

That was kinda my point. The pope was his boss, (in the ancient form) not his client (I was not the originator of the Michaelangelo analogy by the way).

hdace: For all I know about legal copyright issues, you are probably right.

However I have never in my industry (arch viz and arch in general) known a client (save out of naive expectations: "Oh, we don't get those as well?") that actually had the expectation to receive everything. Possibly the PSD file with several layers for flexibility (usualy provided as a courtesy, not an expectation), but certainly not everything in the production chain.

It is also a bit strange with the LWS and LWO formats maintaining objects in their original formats .. for example, I use licenced xfrog trees and purchased 3dmodels of people. I am fairly sure I am not permitted to distribute these to everyone who has 'paid for my services' .. otherwise, I could sell entire libraries legally to anyone I pleased, as long as I made a contract for it ...

Seems an unclear area of copyright to me.

j.

ted
07-01-2007, 02:37 PM
It's something that I hope does not happen often.
I had this happen to me a few times in my 30 years. The agency lost the acount and so did I. I packed up boxes of shoot and post material and handed everything over with a smile and best wishes.

I know I'm in the minority on this...
But shlt happens. I was paid for the time to do the work and I'm not incapable of doing more quality work. Just like a lost love, move on and don't waste time trying to get it back.

Now go out there and get more work! :thumbsup:

hdace
07-01-2007, 09:38 PM
That is only partially true - That is a work for hire contract which is standard in many industries. But is not required by law.

We however, refuse to do that. We maintain ownership of all source files and all copyrights. We give the client full usage rights to avoid problems. 99% of the time, they don't want to have to pay you every time they want to use the final images/animations/videos.

So it is a choice when you do work for someone that you have to make.

So that is my 15 plus years of experience and thousands of projects.

You have experienced what you've made up as you have gone along. Copyright law is created by international treaty. You cannot write a contract that contradicts the law.

I lived and worked in the UK for 20 years & now I'm back in Kansas. As a producer I have discussed copyright law with lawyers many times and have nearly gone to court a couple of times. I have won every legal battle I've fought (out of court).

If you write a contract and your employer signs it (doesn't matter whether you're freelance or a business or an employee), if your employer later realizes that the contract contradicts international law then he can sue you for whatever he sees fit. He can then say to the judge that the contract was not fair. Judges always look at whether a contract is legal and whether it was fair when the parties signed it (ie: whether one party "tricked" the other, or was misled, etc). If it appears to become unfair after it is signed, that is tough, the judge will not give an exception in that case. In your case, gaushell, it could be claimed that you misled the client by asking him to sign a contract that contradicts the law. You will probably lose and you will have to hand over the source material. You don't have an actual right to retain it. If a producer wants to work with a different company using the material that you created, as long as he paid you, you have to hand it over.

I agree that your employer has no legal right to purchased library material. For instance, if you're a film editor and you use library music in a corporate video, you don't have to hand over the track layed music or the source CD which you purchased prior to the job (you do have to hand over everything else). If you purchased the music specifically for the job and you charged the client for the music, then you do give him the music because he bought it, not you.

It's all very simple if you try not to make up the rules yourself.

jameswillmott
07-01-2007, 10:31 PM
You have experienced what you've made up as you have gone along. Copyright law is created by international treaty. You cannot write a contract that contradicts the law.

Well, you can, you just can't enforce it. :D



I lived and worked in the UK for 20 years & now I'm back in Kansas. As a producer I have discussed copyright law with lawyers many times and have nearly gone to court a couple of times. I have won every legal battle I've fought (out of court).

If you write a contract and your employer signs it (doesn't matter whether you're freelance or a business or an employee), if your employer later realizes that the contract contradicts international law then he can sue you for whatever he sees fit. He can then say to the judge that the contract was not fair. Judges always look at whether a contract is legal and whether it was fair when the parties signed it (ie: whether one party "tricked" the other, or was misled, etc). If it appears to become unfair after it is signed, that is tough, the judge will not give an exception in that case. In your case, gaushell, it could be claimed that you misled the client by asking him to sign a contract that contradicts the law. You will probably lose and you will have to hand over the source material. You don't have an actual right to retain it. If a producer wants to work with a different company using the material that you created, as long as he paid you, you have to hand it over.

I agree that your employer has no legal right to purchased library material. For instance, if you're a film editor and you use library music in a corporate video, you don't have to hand over the track layed music or the source CD which you purchased prior to the job (you do have to hand over everything else). If you purchased the music specifically for the job and you charged the client for the music, then you do give him the music because he bought it, not you.

It's all very simple if you try not to make up the rules yourself.

This just doesn't read right, there is nothing against international copyright law that says an artist (such as Paradigm) can't produce material which they retain the copyright for, and licence another entity to use it without having to give away all their source files.

Otherwise we'd all be entitled to the source code for Windows/OSX when we buy a new computer.

We're talking about a transfer of usage rights, not a transfer of copyright, and as long as the terms of what rights/material are being transferred is clear in the contract, I can't see why there would ever be an infringement of 'copyright'.

That's how it works here (Australia) with virtually every design service I know of. All the original source materials are retained by the Designer, and (usually) full and unrestricted usgae rights are granted to the Client to duplicate/use only the materials stipulated in the contract.

I think you are referring to work-for-hire, which is not automatic, but the work can be specified as work-for-hire in the contract between client and designer. In that case, all rights and materials belong to the client and must be handed over on demand.

Section 101 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code (Australia has something similar) defines "work for hire" as follows:

1. a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
2. a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. . . .

Anything not falling under this definition is not work for hire and the copyright remains with the author.

RonGC
07-01-2007, 10:54 PM
You have experienced what you've made up as you have gone along. Copyright law is created by international treaty. You cannot write a contract that contradicts the law.

I lived and worked in the UK for 20 years & now I'm back in Kansas. As a producer I have discussed copyright law with lawyers many times and have nearly gone to court a couple of times. I have won every legal battle I've fought (out of court).

If you write a contract and your employer signs it (doesn't matter whether you're freelance or a business or an employee), if your employer later realizes that the contract contradicts international law then he can sue you for whatever he sees fit. He can then say to the judge that the contract was not fair. Judges always look at whether a contract is legal and whether it was fair when the parties signed it (ie: whether one party "tricked" the other, or was misled, etc). If it appears to become unfair after it is signed, that is tough, the judge will not give an exception in that case. In your case, gaushell, it could be claimed that you misled the client by asking him to sign a contract that contradicts the law. You will probably lose and you will have to hand over the source material. You don't have an actual right to retain it. If a producer wants to work with a different company using the material that you created, as long as he paid you, you have to hand it over.

I agree that your employer has no legal right to purchased library material. For instance, if you're a film editor and you use library music in a corporate video, you don't have to hand over the track layed music or the source CD which you purchased prior to the job (you do have to hand over everything else). If you purchased the music specifically for the job and you charged the client for the music, then you do give him the music because he bought it, not you.

It's all very simple if you try not to make up the rules yourself.


So then if a movie studio made a movie based on an authors book, even if they had paid said author and had a contract with the author. If said author later claimed that the Movie studio did not own the intellectual property and i want it back. Then the Movie studio would be obligated to give the film to the author, since as you seem to claim the contract does not over-ride the authors intellectual copyright under international copyright law?

Ron

Puguglybonehead
07-01-2007, 11:44 PM
So then if a movie studio made a movie based on an authors book, even if they had paid said author and had a contract with the author. If said author later claimed that the Movie studio did not own the intellectual property and i want it back. Then the Movie studio would be obligated to give the film to the author, since as you seem to claim the contract does not over-ride the authors intellectual copyright under international copyright law?

Ron

OK, this seems like a slightly skewed example. The author was not 'hired' by the studio to 'write a book' for them, were they? The book is the author's own work and intellectual property. (I'm assuming the book came before the movie, in this scenario) The author can license the 'use' of this property to the studio, under contractually negotiated terms, (and usually a great expense, with the involvement of IP lawyers) to be made into a film. The terms negotiated in the contract, then determine how that work is to be used in the film. The story itself remains the intellectual property of the author, but the rights to produce 1 film, based on the work in question, have been granted (on a one-time only basis, in most contracts of this type) to produce the film. Both parties signed the contract. Going back on the terms of this agreement, in any way, would be breach of contract. This is a whole different animal and really, kind of off-topic.

RonGC
07-01-2007, 11:54 PM
Just trying to understand the copyright laws. I do see that this may well be a different animal, however international copyright is only as strong as any given countries willingness to use the courts to uphold it. And i believe in how they are willing to interpret the extent of the law.

Some asian countries have a thriving industry creating pirated material, dvd.s, cd's etc with their countries courts ignoring it.


Ron

RonGC
07-02-2007, 12:10 AM
I just had a look at the us copyright law:

(b) Works Made for Hire. — In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright.

Note the: "unless the parties have agree otherwise in a written instrument signed by them... "

Sounds like a written contract to me, agreed upon by the clients signature that the copyright remains with me is in fact binding.

Ron

Puguglybonehead
07-02-2007, 12:11 AM
OK, here is a scenario that is more appropriate: An advertising agency approaches your studio with a project that requires (in somebody's opinion) 3D animation. They have this character that they've dreamed up that is a large, 2-headed jackrabbit. It's 2 heads have a heated argument about the merits of 'product A' (the product being advertised) vs another product.

The dialogue has already been written, the story is done, but they need your company to create the 2-headed jackrabbit character for them and then animate it for the commercial spots. Now, even though your modelers are doing the work of creating the rabbit, was it their idea to have a 2-headed jackrabbit? No. It's not your character, it was conceived by the advertising firm. (In fact the character probably belongs to their client, whose product is being advertised). You may be doing all the creative work, but the idea never would've crossed your mind, if you hadn't been hired to do it. The character and the models thereof, belong to the client, not to you. It's pretty simple.

If GM hires you to design a new car for them, from the ground up, it belongs to them, because they 'hired' you for 'their' creative purpose. When you work in 'commercial art' in any form, you are not the owner of the intellectual property, you're just a hired gun. That's the nasty truth of it.

Puguglybonehead
07-02-2007, 12:22 AM
I just had a look at the us copyright law:

the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright.
Ron

That's the short story, plain and simple. There's no preventing you from trying negotiate the contract to be otherwise. Good luck with that. I can't see many clients agreeing to give up their rights of ownership very willingly though.

RonGC
07-02-2007, 12:35 AM
I have always had that clause in my standard contracts that i maintain copyright , never have i had anyone question it, they have always signed.

Probably because my work was in the oil-patch which is a multi billion dollar industry in my area and heavy industry, industrial videos. Also living in Canada where we are not lawsuit happy like the US seems to maybe have helped.

I am retired now as of my 50th birthday so it does not really concern me much, but it is nice to know that those contracts were legal and binding.

Ron

RonGC
07-02-2007, 12:54 AM
Digging a little further into international copyright, the Berne Union convention on artistic and literary protection. It seems a country must be signatory to the convention to be bound by international copyright and that each country is given a fair amount of leeway to the extent of its application of the international copyright law.

Unless i'm reading the convention articles wrong.

So the law is in fact not applied the same in every country. This may well be why i have heard copyright law described as a morass or alternately a minefield.

Ron

Puguglybonehead
07-02-2007, 01:00 AM
One of the many promises of The World Trade Organization is that they would work to straighten out these inconsistencies, as well as giving us a central patent registry (you currently have to register patents in about 10 different regions to have protection of your industrial designs). They have yet to make good on any of these promises.

You are right. It is a minefield.

Red_Oddity
07-02-2007, 03:15 AM
Oh boy, let's not get us started about the WTO (a lot of controversion still hangs around this bunch of fatcats (from some of their masterminds nazi pasts) to their highly unorthodox 'Codex'))

Anyhoo, i'd say hire a lawyer (no, don't sue anyone :p ) that has experience in this particular field of work and have him try to find out where you stand (we hired one to setup our general terms of service and what rights we actually have).
Hiring a lawyer might sound drastic, but it will probably shed a lot more light on the situation than the opinions of international group of artists on a forum.

*Pete*
07-02-2007, 03:57 AM
The dialogue has already been written, the story is done, but they need your company to create the 2-headed jackrabbit character for them and then animate it for the commercial spots. Now, even though your modelers are doing the work of creating the rabbit, was it their idea to have a 2-headed jackrabbit? No. It's not your character, it was conceived by the advertising firm. (In fact the character probably belongs to their client, whose product is being advertised). You may be doing all the creative work, but the idea never would've crossed your mind, if you hadn't been hired to do it. The character and the models thereof, belong to the client, not to you. It's pretty simple.


If youre hired to create an animation, that is what the client gets..the rabbit design belongs to them and youre not allowed to use it in other occasions without permission of the client.

but the LWO of the rabbit, and the LWS of the animation, textures and what ever...belong to you, even if you have no right to use it without a permission.


other example of a copyright...a client asks you to create a bottle for product evaluation within the company, you provide them with an image of the bottle.

later you see the same image used in a commercial...

thats against the copyright, strange as it sounds, and you can charge for it again :)

gaushell
07-02-2007, 06:39 AM
You have experienced what you've made up as you have gone along. Copyright law is created by international treaty. You cannot write a contract that contradicts the law.

I lived and worked in the UK for 20 years & now I'm back in Kansas. As a producer I have discussed copyright law with lawyers many times and have nearly gone to court a couple of times. I have won every legal battle I've fought (out of court).

If you write a contract and your employer signs it (doesn't matter whether you're freelance or a business or an employee), if your employer later realizes that the contract contradicts international law then he can sue you for whatever he sees fit. He can then say to the judge that the contract was not fair. Judges always look at whether a contract is legal and whether it was fair when the parties signed it (ie: whether one party "tricked" the other, or was misled, etc). If it appears to become unfair after it is signed, that is tough, the judge will not give an exception in that case. In your case, gaushell, it could be claimed that you misled the client by asking him to sign a contract that contradicts the law. You will probably lose and you will have to hand over the source material. You don't have an actual right to retain it. If a producer wants to work with a different company using the material that you created, as long as he paid you, you have to hand it over.

It's all very simple if you try not to make up the rules yourself.

The client is not signing a contract that contradicts the law. We are the creators of the work. We do not use a work for hire contract and we tell them we maintain full copyright and they have full usage rights of final illustrations/animations/videos. There isn't any contradiction with US or international law.

We aren't being paid to create the 3d models, we are being paid to create the final illustrations, etc. The 3d models and scenes are part of our tool set and process. Unless specified otherwise, they are ours - and quite frankly, we specify that they remain ours.

If we had a work for hire contract, it would be different. But we don't do things that way - and it is not required that we have to do so. Same for architects here. They own design and do not have to give up the CAD files to the owner unless specified. Some do out of courtesy, but many won't at all.

tfrank
07-02-2007, 08:02 AM
That is not true.

if for example youre hired as a truckdriver at a factory, you cant be put to work in a office, in the same factory, against your will.



A little off topic here, but being a small operation and after too many times hearing things like "it's not my job", we have another line in the employment contract that essentially says "plus anything else that we ask you to do". The key is have all expectations/conditions out front and on paper.

*Pete*
07-02-2007, 12:56 PM
A little off topic here, but being a small operation and after too many times hearing things like "it's not my job", we have another line in the employment contract that essentially says "plus anything else that we ask you to do". The key is have all expectations/conditions out front and on paper.


yeah..thats the trick ;)

a work contract will have to state the work responsibilities, along with amount and time of the working hours and of course, salary.

if nothing is stated in a contract (illegal) the employee can pretty much refuse everything and say its not his job, and you have to pay him a minimum salary (if not higher is stated by a contract).

the same goes for example with copyrights and such...if nothing is stated in the contract, the copyright belongs to the author of the image.

what you guys are selling to the clients is the "right to use" the image you created, even if they decide what the image is going to be about.


to go even more offtopic...i have a cat that does the same as your avatar :thumbsup:

RonGC
07-02-2007, 05:44 PM
One of the reasons i went for my contract to state that i kept the copyright was because of the WoodBuffalo region.

It is a multi billion dollar industrial region with oil sand development. What the companies did there was had a few freelance video production people come in, and produce a series of safety, training and information videos for one of the companies.

The freelancers did not keep the copyright, so the company shared all their videos with some 20 other companies to use.

For the past 15 years they have all been using those same videos, and there is no chance in the foreseeable future for any outside video contractor getting any work.

If we dont protect our own jobs no one else will.

Ron

RonGC
07-02-2007, 09:04 PM
You have experienced what you've made up as you have gone along. Copyright law is created by international treaty. You cannot write a contract that contradicts the law.


The Berne treaty does state that if both parties sign an agreement you can retain the copyright, thus the contract does not in any way contradict the law.

The treaty was written with the intent that all parties get treated with fairness, not one side shafts the other.

Ron

gaushell
07-02-2007, 09:20 PM
There you have it. Completely agree.

Note sure of other countries, but you don't have to give up "the farm" here to do work, though many do - but that is by choice, not by required law.

I suggest being very leary of work for hire contracts. Ad agencies love them, because they get to own what you've done for them.

byte_fx
07-03-2007, 01:09 AM
For both freelancers and company employed computer artists it comes down to how individual contracts are written.

When I worked for 3D houses my contracts stated I could use what I created in demo reels and other ways designed to attract business for myself.

I could not distribute the objects/scenes/etc or make money directly from them. However - I could make money (consultation fees) for things like news stories, documentaries, etc concerning the general techniques used.

As a freelancer that has changed. If the contract is for a 30 second ad, for example, the only thing the client is entitled to is the final product - usually with the rendered frames plus a few extra shots/frames if they want to re-edit.

Everything else - models, scene files, etc. - still belongs to me because they're not paying for them. I can use them in any way I wish as long as it doesn't violate a product's copyright. But most companies are pretty lenient about that long as it doesn't involve something that defames the product. Even then it has to be pretty blatant.

byte_fx