image for Video Production: legal issues

Video Production: legal issues

Published on Friday, 30th October 2015, contributed by Steer & Co

Advice for all video producers from Preferred Supplier Rebecca Steer

I was recently invited to run a workshop on behalf of Bristol Media. The topic for discussion was video production. It was an extremely well attended event, but perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Demand for video content is at an all time high with Cisco forecasting a further 250 per cent increase in video usage in the next four years.

It seems almost anyone is a video producer these days, from traditional film and video production companies filming and producing our treasured films and TV programmes, to companies producing corporate marketing materials and not forgetting my mum and her “home movies” uploaded to social media sites for collective family giggles.  One wonders if all these different producers are aware of what we need to consider before we actually go live. 

Commercial productions are becoming increasingly more complicated due to complex funding arrangements especially from the crowd variety.  This adds an additional burden for production companies to manage in the split of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and passing down funding requirements to ensure productions comply with best practice guidelines.  Standard contracts rarely work in these situations.  Indeed they can be dangerous.

Another area of complexity, which can be overlooked, is the ownership of IPR in ideas, formats and pitches.  Often production companies are invited to pitch ideas to TV companies. If the pitch gets the green light, a pilot may be commissioned, if this is well received and more funding is available it may go to a full series commission. It’s then we all get excited.  But what happens if the pilot doesn’t lead to a full commission, how do you ensure your rights revert so you can re-use them elsewhere? What happens if you have developed this idea with another creative partner? Who owns and controls the IPR then? IPR around video production is a complex issue and I talked about the importance of standing back before you go too far with a collaboration or a pitch to ensure you have protected your IPR and that you are all aware of the terms on which you are making your IPR available.  IPR is at the end of the day, your main asset as a producer so you need to identify it and protect it.

It is always interesting to hear from attendees about what is troubling them in their businesses. At this workshop we heard from attendees who commission production companies to make video footage who wanted to ensure they were obliging their suppliers to maintain best practice.

This session provided a useful opportunity for local film and TV makers, and those working with them, to gain a better understanding of the key issues in video production and how to protect and value rights.  

We also looked at related issues including working with freelancers and contractors, managing contracts, navigating third party rights and production insurance.  The session concluded with my tips of how best to deal with an IPR issue if you do run into one; my recommendations included: 

  • Talk to a lawyer early and also notify your insurance company as soon as you realise an issue has arisen

  • Write a detailed timeline of what’s happened so you can get your lawyer/insurer up to speed quickly with the issue

  • Try and find a solution but equally don’t say or do anything which could prejudice your position

  • As an owner of IPR, you are expected to defend it.  If you don’t you may loose that right in some situations, so don’t ignore minor acts of infringement

  • Seek to mitigate any damage

  • Be realistic

  • Keep all relevant documents for at least 6 years

  • Think if there are any other leverages which could help in any subsequent negotiation

  • Make sure your team are trained on the key issues around IPR so they can protect your interests and ensure  projects run smoothly for all those involved.

If you would like a copy of the presentation please feel free to contact me at: rebecca.steer@steerandco.com