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04/30/2006 11:45:33 PM · #1
I was hired by a friend to take photos of her dog. She paid me 200 bucks and then told me she was going to make a calendar out of my shots. Should I speak to her about getting a percentage of the profits or any additional fees since she intends to sell my work? Or is the session fee considered a buy out? And, since she is a friend, I feel wierd about bringing it up at all. Any advice?
04/30/2006 11:46:53 PM · #2
If she intends to sell your work then I believe you need a cut on the profits as you hold the copyrights to the images. She might own them but you still retain rights as the photographer ;)
04/30/2006 11:50:19 PM · #3
if you're not doing this professionally, then take your $200 and give your friend best wishes.
04/30/2006 11:51:30 PM · #4
Actually - If you gave her a CD with the files and you didn't sign a contract saying what she could or could not do with them, you DO have rights of copyright, but enforcing them would be hell. Contract first -- money second.
04/30/2006 11:53:33 PM · #5
It sounds like she is going to make a personal calender...That can be done in an hour at Office Max. Perhaps that is what she had in mind.

If she wants to mass produce the calender, I am fairly confident that she does not own the negatives and can not sell them in any form without your permission. Perhaps you should go 50/50 on it?
04/30/2006 11:57:03 PM · #6
i don't mean to sound so flip. there's a big difference between being a paid hobbyist and a paid professional. of course you have rights, but, as cindy said, enforcing them would not be pleasant. if you want to work professionally, you need to be geared up to handle things like this beforehand. if she prints calendars, make sure she credits you and make sure you get a few to show around. nice of her to help build your portfolio, huh?
04/30/2006 11:58:49 PM · #7
thanks for the advice, y'all. I think I will ask her for a percentage. I believe she does intend to sell the thing. I will do it by email to make it less awkward... or maybe that will be more awkward! Live and learn.

05/01/2006 01:37:50 AM · #8
If you were paid less than 90 days ago, the first thing you want to do is get your images of the session registered. You only have to fill out a simple form, put the images on a CD and with a check for $30, send it all into the Copyright Office. The day they receive it, your images will be registered and then, should an argument come up about who owns the images, there will be no doubt. Also, if she went ahead and made and sold the calendar, you would just have to tell her the images are registered.

Yes, you do hold the copyright to the images, unless you sign them over to her. But if your images are registered, then if it goes to court, she gets to pay all court and legal fees for both of you to the Federal Court. If you don't have them registered, then you have to pay your own lawyer fees and court costs and that can be expensive. Just being able to tell her that the images are registered with the copyright office and suggesting she check with an IP lawyer on what that means will stop her dead in her tracks and either she will give up the idea or pay you what you want.

It's worked for me already when I found out I'd been infringed on.

Mike
05/01/2006 03:03:08 AM · #9
Download your necessary forms and instructions at the US Copyright Office

For more books (and software and forms) on Intellectual Property and all other kinds of law and business management try Nolo Press -- they've been helping people handle their own legal work for over 30 years. Some Nolo publications may be available at your local library.

Message edited by author 2006-05-01 03:03:55.
05/01/2006 03:34:47 AM · #10
Maybe I'm weird, but if you two are friends, why are you charging her money? And why is she trying to profit off of your work?

Why don't you both collaborate on the calendar? That way you both make money and you get your name out there.
05/01/2006 03:52:00 AM · #11
There is not much question that you have rights. But having rights and asserting them are two different things. I get the impression from your post (and perhaps my impression is not accurate) that you are not a professional photographer by trade and she is a friend (how close is not specified, but close enough for you to be asked to photograph her dog).

If my impressions are accurate then I tend to agree with Lepidus and skiprow. Have her publish the calendar with credit to you, get a few copies to pass around, and consider it inexpensive publicity. ...And next time have the rights expressed up front in the manner that others have mentioned. Friends are hard to come buy...especially those willing to pay for sitting fees, photos, etc. If you weren't sure of your rights it is probably a safe bet that she wasn't either. I wouldn't threaten a friendship under the circumstances.
05/01/2006 04:07:06 AM · #12
Federal Court Filing Fees

On April 9 the filing fee for federal courts was increased from $250 to $350 for a civil case. I would guess the lawyers would have a range of $100 - $250 per hour which would multiply quickly into thousands.

I would be interested in hearing from a hobbyist/semi-pro who has actually participated in filing a complaint in federal court. What was the initial cost, the cause of action, and the remedy?

I may be looking at this with the wrong color of glasses but to me copyright protection works well if you're a business and have corporate lawyers at your disposal... or if you petitioning for something that has substantial material value.

Anyone have a good link to statistics on how many private people file copyright infrigment complaints, along with the cost and remedy?
05/01/2006 04:16:33 AM · #13
Originally posted by weisz:

thanks for the advice, y'all. I think I will ask her for a percentage. I believe she does intend to sell the thing. I will do it by email to make it less awkward... or maybe that will be more awkward! Live and learn.

You might want to reconsider doing this by mail. The personal way is much better. This is a difficult matter to discuss and all kinds of misunderstanding can arise, better make it eye to eye.
If she is selling the calendar, that means she wants to make money out of it. You might be a amateur at photography, I guess she is an amateur in calender-publishing. If she is earning money, using your pictures, you are entitled to a share.
Yes, and it is a help for your portfolio, much in the same way you are helping her publishing adventure.
Approach her in a positive way and keep it on positive notes at all times. Be prepared, know how much you think you should get.
Good luck.
05/01/2006 04:22:24 AM · #14
From what you've written about this, there is no contract outlining the transaction that took place. You apparently think the images are yours and that she should have pay to use them -- she apparently views it as a work for hire and that she owns the images. Without a written contract it falls to the verbal one -- yes a verbal contract is binding ... but proving it will be very expensive. It will likely cost you more than the what you have made on it -- in all likelihood, it will cost you a friend.

Keep the $200 and the friend and be happy. If you can't do that, at least talk to this friend about how you feel instead of a bunch of strangers on the internet.

David
05/01/2006 05:12:52 AM · #15
As everyone else has said, you do have rights but do you want to sour a friendship by enforcing them?

Ask yourself this question ... if she is a 'friend', why didn't she tell you about the calendar before the shoot and the payment of $200?

The answer I believe does throw an entirely different light on the transaction. It appears from here that she conned you into taking the pics for $200 by hiding their intended purpose. It sounds as if she believed that because she paid you the $200, she owns all the rights to the work.

Only you can assess the degree of malice of forethought in the matter. If it was deliberate, register your work and play hard-ball - she's no friend. If it's just a misunderstanding, blame the law, say it's not something you can change - and come to a friendly deal about sharing the profits in proporton to the cost you have each met.

Brett

05/01/2006 02:01:27 PM · #16
Originally posted by KiwiPix:

As everyone else has said, you do have rights but do you want to sour a friendship by enforcing them?

Ask yourself this question ... if she is a 'friend', why didn't she tell you about the calendar before the shoot and the payment of $200?

The answer I believe does throw an entirely different light on the transaction. It appears from here that she conned you into taking the pics for $200 by hiding their intended purpose. It sounds as if she believed that because she paid you the $200, she owns all the rights to the work.

Only you can assess the degree of malice of forethought in the matter. If it was deliberate, register your work and play hard-ball - she's no friend. If it's just a misunderstanding, blame the law, say it's not something you can change - and come to a friendly deal about sharing the profits in proporton to the cost you have each met.

Brett


I agree with Brett. I think you need to determin how much your friendship is worth. At the very least, I would mention to her that you hold the © to the images and in the future you would charge usagege rights if she intended to use the images for more than personal use. (save the friendship and educate her on your rights). If you feel she was intending to take advantage of you from the start, then I would push it harder. More money or shared profits. Let her know you own the © and that she is in violation of them if she prints the calander.

My thought is keep the friend and both learn from this. You learn all jobs need to have paperwork to protect you and she learns the legality of copyrights and usage. I would dought she is going to make a windfall from this calander if it is her first time (but I could be wrong).
05/01/2006 02:57:47 PM · #17
The reality on something like this ... you don't have any rights unless you can get a judge to agree. If you go the way of a lawyer and court, plan on several thousand dollars of which you may or may not get any of it paid even if you win. Alternative is small claims court, there for less than a hundred bucks you can challenge her on the grounds that they are worth a couple thousand dollars and maybe win. But you will need to show you acted in good faith first. The important part, is you will no longer be called friend and the word will spread like wildfire that you cheated her. Sometimes a few pictures of dogs, weddings, etc etc are just not worth it. Many of us think our photos are valuable .... well maybe one in a million have any value over a few portrait sales. The lucky photos, the one of a kind photos are the ones to fight over. I suggest as others, do a handshake deal, hope for the best in her calendar idea and maybe pocket a few more bucks but save your reputation. It doesn't mater who is right or wrong, as we see her at dpc the other person is the evil one, she will do the same to you. It's not worth it. Good luck.
05/01/2006 03:03:41 PM · #18
Originally posted by lepidus:

Maybe I'm weird, but if you two are friends, why are you charging her money? And why is she trying to profit off of your work?

Why don't you both collaborate on the calendar? That way you both make money and you get your name out there.


LOL I charge FAMILY for portrait work (not immediate but extended family) ... It is what I do.
If I ran a gas station do you think that it would be free gas to all my family and friends?


05/01/2006 03:10:45 PM · #19
Originally posted by skiprow:

if you're not doing this professionally, then take your $200 and give your friend best wishes.


I echo this advice particularly if you all did not work something out prior to taking the shots (which I assume you have already taken & handed over).

You could offer her DPCprints as a service for cut of the profits.
05/01/2006 03:11:34 PM · #20
Unless you can prove she intentionally misled you about the purpose of the photoshoot, and in the absence of a written contract, you are somewhat likely to lose anyway, as she has a good case to claim that this was a work-for-hire.

I go along with other people in suggesting a negotiated settlement, along the lines of "I didn't realize you were going to show those to other people -- I usually get at least a photo credit when that happens ..." and get the best deal you can -- to me, that would be getting her to acknowledge your copyright, even if you get no payment -- you can give her a royalty-free license to clarify the matter.

A photo credit, the $200 you already got, and the education you're getting now are probably worth more than anything you'd net in commissions or your friendship (if that's what it is).
05/01/2006 03:15:32 PM · #21
Why would I have to pay the patent office a fee to 'register' my photos? Don't I own the copyright on any photo that I personally create, unless I specifically sell those rights to someone else?
05/01/2006 03:23:28 PM · #22
The (US) law requires registration with the Copyright Office (not the Patent Office -- that's a different department altogether) in order to collect anything beyond actual damages -- which are notoriously hard to prove. With registration, you can also collect attorney and court costs and maybe additional damages as well, and basically have incontrovertible evidence of ownership.

The Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress, and part of the motivation behind getting people to register is to make the LOC collections as complete as possible, since registration requires submitting one or two copies of the work being registered. Fortunately, they now accept photography on digital media.
05/01/2006 04:38:45 PM · #23
Originally posted by GeneralE:

The (US) law requires registration with the Copyright Office (not the Patent Office -- that's a different department altogether) in order to collect anything beyond actual damages -- which are notoriously hard to prove. With registration, you can also collect attorney and court costs and maybe additional damages as well, and basically have incontrovertible evidence of ownership.

The Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress, and part of the motivation behind getting people to register is to make the LOC collections as complete as possible, since registration requires submitting one or two copies of the work being registered. Fortunately, they now accept photography on digital media.


So is the registration price per picture, per dvd full of pictures protecting each picture individually or good for a group of dvd's sent in at the same time protecting thousands of different pics?
05/01/2006 04:42:08 PM · #24
Rather than going for money. I'd politely ask to be credited on the photos. That has the potential to generate more work/profit than the calender itself.
05/01/2006 04:43:37 PM · #25
Originally posted by PhantomEWO:

So is the registration price per picture, per dvd full of pictures protecting each picture individually or good for a group of dvd's sent in at the same time protecting thousands of different pics?

Those are all possibilities, depending on how you do it. And there are advantages and disadvantages to each, so you have to make a decision about which method best suits your own, individual circumstances.

I suggest downloading the main instruction booklets (they are in PDF format) and the forms (likewise) and look them over.

Another great resource for legal information, including copyrights, is Nolo Press
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