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Thread: Do you give raw footage to clients?

  1. #1

    Default Do you give raw footage to clients?

    Hi,

    As the title suggests - do you give out your raw footage to clients for free?
    This topic has sparked a big debate right now in my circle of filmmakers and i am super surprised that it's such a mix of opinions!

    In general (by copyright law) the filmmaker (freelance or private production company) is the owner of the copyrights to all filmed and edited footage including the finished video unless stated differently in a contract.
    The client pays the filmmaker to make a video and in return gets the rights to use the finished video as he intends to.
    Obviously there are variations to this depending on the agreement and contract, but this is generally true for 90% of video work.

    I would say from my own experience only about 10% - 20% of clients even ask for the raw material and i ALWAYS offer it for a price, NEVER for free!

    And here is why - that raw footage is another channel of income for any filmmaker plus - you don't go to a jeweler and order a diamond ring and then ask for the leftover uncut diamonds for free because of some weird idea that they were somehow included in the diamond ring price! That just makes no sense!

    Here is how we monetize our raw footage and why we can't give it for free:
    • We can use the raw material to make a different video and licence it or publish it to make money.
    • We can cut it up in thousands of clips for stock video sites and make money that way.
    • We can use it as reference clips in other videos where we need it.
    • And so on.


    So in essence, whenever a client asks for the raw footage for free, they are essentially stealing one of your income sources and by giving that footage up for free - you are cutting your own leg of!

    Let me know if you think differently and / or how you deal with clients who make such a demand!?

  2. #2

    Default

    Glad you bring it up and give such a compelling argument. I would otherwise probably just given any raw footage that a client paid me to shoot without thinking twice.

    What I'm also interested in is the stock footage argument you make. I'm not sure if you can just sell all your raw footage as stock footage without permission from the client, in a way the client paid me to shoot it so by paying my invoice I sort of get the feeling the client owns the footage as well.

    I recently shot in a brewery and I would love to sell some of the excess shots as stock. I've asked my client (not the brewery) for a property release but they told me that the brewery specifically told them that it didn't allow any use of the footage taken that day outside the video that my client was making (I was only hired to shoot raw footage in this case). Not quite sure where I was going with this...
    The cats are watching us...

  3. #3

    Default

    Here in the US and I suspect in many other places as well, when a consultant is hired to do creative work, it defaults to being treated as "work for hire" which specifically means that you are paid for your hours/work as arranged, and any creative artwork that comes from that engagement belongs to the client. This depends on how the hiring is done, for what specific outcome, and often on who drafted the contract. In short, someone that gets hired for 3 hours to shoot an event and deliver a memory card, that person does not own the rights to those images unless they specifically wrote a contract to fight for that ownership.

    Because I come from the software world, my consulting contracts specifically claim ownership of the artwork, so that it is clear that the artwork/source stuff belongs to me. That covers the legal aspect so I have the most control.

    Having said that, I would usually be happy to give my clients whatever source artwork/property they ask for if it is just a matter of copying some files. Sometimes they do ask. Sometimes a client says they are having something designed and they need a logo we created. Instead of arguing "but I'm your designer, you should give me that design work", or arguing "ok, but source files cost more", I just give them the artwork and let them do their thing. Personally, I find that 1 of 2 things happen next: 1. They went with a cheap designer to try to beat my rates, and they got crappy quality so they come back the next time around, or 2. they are happy with their new relationship at which point I'm no longer interested in having them as a client if they don't value my work. What I also found is that being open and responsive shows professionalism at a higher level. When I say "no problem, I'll send you a high res version of the file for your purpose" instead of "well let's set up a call because this is not ok", it further creates value for my brand and improves the odds they'll make a good decision and come back.


    How it relates to artistic work:
    Usually the situation is that there is value attached to the source materials, in the sense that the client may need further prints or editing and the expectation is that they would come to us for that work. This is how 100% of my client relationships are, and my clients seldom question nor would want to take the work elsewhere.

    However, if I were to encounter a client that wants us to just shoot a project and provide source files, I would first wonder if that's a worthwhile client to pursue, then I would consider how much to charge for that project. Because the project quote is affected by whether we retain the source materials and will see more business from the client thereafter. So from that perspective, I have no problem releasing the files to a one-time client that wants the source files, but I would probably charge more on that project per hour (or however the cost is being figured) than the regular rates.

    An important point for me:
    I wouldn't use footage from a client shoot to try to make an extra buck as a stock stuff. Only generic B reel or something nondescript like that. I wouldn't use the model releases we secured for that shoot, nor anything identifiable. I do believe the client has some right to privacy and uniqueness if they paid for a shoot and I'm happy to preserve that. I secure the ownership of the artwork to be protected legally, but I also intend to respect and honor the client's work. I think this attitude also probably helps create trust.


    Also, to be literal:

    do you give out your raw footage to clients for free?
    I can't because I don't shoot RAW video. Maybe when I get a Blackmagic camera with their 1/12 RAW codec.

  4. #4

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    It entirely depends on how you want to operate as a company / individual. At one extreme you could be hard nosed and kick up a fuss. At the other end of the scale you could always give the client what they want. Either way, and if it's a problem you think you might have, include it in your terms and always highlight this to clients.

    I have no issues with providing unedited footage. I'd rather not as there's an overhead associated and by definition it's stuff that wasn't good enough.

  5. #5

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    In addition, something that I hadn't mentioned but since stock footage has come up as well. I do offer discounts to budget conscious clients in exchange for a permission to sell some of their footage as stock with the needed release forms signed.
    The cats are watching us...

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Grapes View Post
    Glad you bring it up and give such a compelling argument. I would otherwise probably just given any raw footage that a client paid me to shoot without thinking twice.

    What I'm also interested in is the stock footage argument you make. I'm not sure if you can just sell all your raw footage as stock footage without permission from the client, in a way the client paid me to shoot it so by paying my invoice I sort of get the feeling the client owns the footage as well.

    I recently shot in a brewery and I would love to sell some of the excess shots as stock. I've asked my client (not the brewery) for a property release but they told me that the brewery specifically told them that it didn't allow any use of the footage taken that day outside the video that my client was making (I was only hired to shoot raw footage in this case). Not quite sure where I was going with this...
    When it comes to footage from a clients location, like the brewery you mentioned, then yeah - you can't sell that in stock without a release from the client, because that property belongs to the client.
    Same goes for clips that have people in them, as you know.
    But every time i shoot something for a client i film a ton of B-roll. In most B-roll shots you can't tell what location that is, you can't identify people and so on, so you are free to sell that without a release form, provided you actually have the copyrights and did not give those away for free to the client.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    Here in the US and I suspect in many other places as well, when a consultant is hired to do creative work, it defaults to being treated as "work for hire" which specifically means that you are paid for your hours/work as arranged, and any creative artwork that comes from that engagement belongs to the client. This depends on how the hiring is done, for what specific outcome, and often on who drafted the contract. In short, someone that gets hired for 3 hours to shoot an event and deliver a memory card, that person does not own the rights to those images unless they specifically wrote a contract to fight for that ownership.
    Yeah, that's the KEY part! If your contract is "work for hire". In the EU the client ONLY owns the copyright directly if i am an employee of that client (as in directly on a payroll and listed as a company employee). Only then, if i film anything, the company (client) owns the copyright.
    Other then that - in every other situation (if not stated differently in a contract), the client buys services from a 3d party (Freelance filmmaker or a production company) and then THAT entity owns the copyrights!

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    Because I come from the software world, my consulting contracts specifically claim ownership of the artwork, so that it is clear that the artwork/source stuff belongs to me. That covers the legal aspect so I have the most control.
    I know what you mean - software and digital art is totally different for some reason. There, when you get hired the client claims copyrights to all artwork and software stuff. It's weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    Having said that, I would usually be happy to give my clients whatever source artwork/property they ask for if it is just a matter of copying some files. Sometimes they do ask. Sometimes a client says they are having something designed and they need a logo we created. Instead of arguing "but I'm your designer, you should give me that design work", or arguing "ok, but source files cost more", I just give them the artwork and let them do their thing. Personally, I find that 1 of 2 things happen next: 1. They went with a cheap designer to try to beat my rates, and they got crappy quality so they come back the next time around, or 2. they are happy with their new relationship at which point I'm no longer interested in having them as a client if they don't value my work. What I also found is that being open and responsive shows professionalism at a higher level. When I say "no problem, I'll send you a high res version of the file for your purpose" instead of "well let's set up a call because this is not ok", it further creates value for my brand and improves the odds they'll make a good decision and come back.
    I do the same when it comes to graphic design or stuff like that - if they ask for the *.psd or *.ai files then i just give them to the client, no fuss and i don't ask money for that.
    But video is a completely different story.

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    An important point for me:
    I wouldn't use footage from a client shoot to try to make an extra buck as a stock stuff. Only generic B reel or something nondescript like that. I wouldn't use the model releases we secured for that shoot, nor anything identifiable. I do believe the client has some right to privacy and uniqueness if they paid for a shoot and I'm happy to preserve that. I secure the ownership of the artwork to be protected legally, but I also intend to respect and honor the client's work. I think this attitude also probably helps create trust.
    Of course! I would never put footage in stock that could be directly linked to my client. That's not what i meant by saying we can sell unused material in stock. I only mean the footage that has no relation to a client or the footage that was not in the final edited video that the client got.
    But, every time a filmmaker makes a video, we shoot a ton of footage. I only use 2% - 5% of the overall footage i shoot. 95% - 98% of the other stuff i filmed gets either archived for not freaking reason other then to collect dust or i delete it. But that's a huge waste in both cases.
    It's only reasonable to go through those 95% - 98% leftovers and see if we can fish out a couple of hundred clips that we can sell in stock (that have no relation to the client or the finished video for the client) and make some cash off of that on the side.
    Especially, i WE OWN the copyright to that footage.


    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    Also, to be literal:

    do you give out your raw footage to clients for free?
    I can't because I don't shoot RAW video. Maybe when I get a Blackmagic camera with their 1/12 RAW codec.
    I know, i know I meant raw as in unedited footage
    Last edited by RL_Sensei; 03-26-2019 at 10:06 AM.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Peters View Post
    It entirely depends on how you want to operate as a company / individual. At one extreme you could be hard nosed and kick up a fuss. At the other end of the scale you could always give the client what they want. Either way, and if it's a problem you think you might have, include it in your terms and always highlight this to clients.

    I have no issues with providing unedited footage. I'd rather not as there's an overhead associated and by definition it's stuff that wasn't good enough.
    Sure, every situation has both extremes available, but usually nothing is either black or white. We mostly operate in the grey area in terms of the decisions we make.
    When it comes to the raw (unedited) footage, as you said - most of it is not good enough, that's why we didn't include it in the finished video. But a lot of the footage was good enough, but maybe did not fit the narrative or direction of the final video or was left out simply because there was no room left for it (restrictions on length).

    But when it comes to giving that footage away to a client - it's like the example i made. You don't buy a diamond ring and then ask the jeweler to hand over the bag of uncut diamonds he/she used to make the ring. That's not how the world works, nor should it be like that.
    A client buys a finished video (product), but that does not entitle the client to get the raw materials that were used to make the finished product!

    I find it disrespectful on the clients part to ask for that for free, because in no other part of life would they even dream to ask for that... other then in the video industry.

    We don't go in to a bakery to get the chocolate cake that we ORDERED TO MAKE (same as ordering to make a video clip) and then ask to give us the leftover dough, chocolate chips, sprinkles and everything else that was used to make the cake for free!
    That would be absurd! But for some reason they do ask exactly for that from filmmakers.
    Last edited by RL_Sensei; 03-26-2019 at 10:08 AM.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Grapes View Post
    In addition, something that I hadn't mentioned but since stock footage has come up as well. I do offer discounts to budget conscious clients in exchange for a permission to sell some of their footage as stock with the needed release forms signed.
    I offer the same thing to "zero budget" clients.
    Let's say they have like $300 for some kind of video or something. If i think there will be footage i could use, i will offer them that i will work a bit more on that project in return for release forms to certain footage that i will be able to use somewhere else or sell in stock (but only those clips that don't showcase the client directly or is used in the final video).

    A lot of times they agree, because... first of all - zero budget clients don't care about that, their business is so small or it's their first time working with a filmmaker that it's not even a topic for them.
    Second - they just want the most for the littlest money possible which means - project's like that are "bad" business for me, so i have to find ways to increase my pay.
    And with "bad" i mean - they are usually not worth the time and effort.

  10. #10

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    When I run live events where I hire guys to shoot and edit for me, theyíre being paid to shoot footage for me and edit footage for me. If the cameraman is being paid by me to shoot, that footage is mine. Both in raw form and the final edited form after someone is also paid to edit for me. Cameramen and editors donít own the footage I hired them to shoot, and they certainly cannot use footage from my shoot to sell as stock footage later.

    The baking analogy is flawed. Itís not the same as a customer who ordered a cake wanting additional cake ingredients for free. Itís the owner of the bakery, who paid for all of the ingredients for his employee to use to bake the cake, choosing to keep the leftover ingredients to use as he pleases (for future cakes, etc). The leftover ingredients donít belong to the employee hired to do the baking. They belong to the bakery.

    Selling stock footage from a hired shoot would be the equivalent of the employee of the bakery taking those extra ingredients that the owner of the bakery paid for, and baking more cakes at home to sell as a side business.
    Last edited by Bloodmark; 06-15-2019 at 02:24 AM.

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