Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Copyrights & Licensing: When, Why, Who and How?

For commercial individuals please also reference this blog article here.

The Who?

The who is simple, licensing and copyright usages are specifically designed and to be used by commercial individuals/entities/companies and NOT non-commercial individuals such as wedding/senior/private parties/etc. clients. So when do you know you are using images for commercial purposes? Basically ask yourself, I'm I going to earn any revenue of any kind directly and indirectly from the images. If yes, then that is for commercial usage. Such as professional headshots will be sent to a talent agency where that talent agency uses it on paid/professional advertising and that advertises the model (you maybe) and other models within the agency plus the company as a whole earning the company more exposure. Hence why I generally do not work with agency models due to this plus they never want to pay for licensing (models and the agents).

The When?

For the proper individual/entity, the when clearly assumed by many forever is the best and only option. But in reality this is not for a vast majority of individuals wanting to use copyrights/licensing. Generally you will need to use a professional headshot that is/was used for advertising your Law Firm for one of your attorneys, but the idea its better to just get to copyright use for "forever" when in reality it is not simply because the cost of "forever" vs. timed term of usage is a huge cost difference when working with professional photographers. Generally from today's industry standards for copyright starting value is (as mentioned before) $1000 and up to OWN/BUY in full. 

From the examples I used previously, it is recommended (will differ in each industry/geographic location) to have a headshot license in active use for 2-3 years at most. Now you are maybe asking the why right now...

The Why?

Here's the reason as to specifically to the why on the example used, it is because people age and/or decide to change their style in their look. Generally you do not (assuming you don't) want to freak out a potential client looking completely different i.e. you hair color, weight, etc. Many people claim they do not judge people on the way they look, but they do even indirectly or at least act differently from individuals' physical traits.

Here's a simple example of the cost differences from owning/buying a copyright to simply licensing them for a period of time and usages.

1 photo you could license for about $150 every 6 months
1 photo you could license for about $300 every 12 months... get the idea?

Also generally the more time the more discount you may receive, also the more images the more discounts which you may like.

Now as for specifics every photographer is very different, some are super simple and couldn't care much about licensing/copyrights on their business model and some do moderately and some do it intensely. If I were you I'd do the research first as to which one you prefer before hiring them to create the images, but we all know every client would prefer to have forever and for free or super cheaply and you may find this but you will have a very hard time finding a great high end photographer with the skills you are looking for to do this.

The How?

As just mentioned above every photographer is very different so the follow is just my way of doing these things at this time.

I have a contract basically stating a quote from the U.S. Copyright Office of what a Copyright Transfer is. (which is what is happening when you buy a copyright, you transfer ownership of property) As well stating the parties companies and representative names (contacts) such as myself for chris adval enterprises and the other side is Rockstar Company with representative's name who is signing and I've worked on with the photo projects on. Terms (if applicable), sometimes one side has special requests/terms they write them in there. And it is recommended to put copies of the images (as big as possible, basically a regular size sheet, whole sheet for 1 image), photo copies should be fine for documentation/record keeping. If a client just ordered copyright credits for unknown images, no photo copies necessary at contract signing but it is nice to recommend to all parties to associate the photo copies of images stapled to the contract.

Sample of the above document here.

This process will be different for individuals/photographers (artists/original copyright owner) if they have registered the copyright with the U.S. Copyright office. I did not as I knew I'll be transferring them before creating the images so it would be a pointless step.

Simple Terminology definition for some who don't know what a license means or licensing. A license in the term of using intellectual property/copyrighted materials is basically renting/leasing non-physical property for time and type of usages allowed when agreed upon at the contract signing.

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