How to license my footage?
May 18, 2011 2:05 AM   Subscribe

How do I license someone to re-edit footage of one of my projects for use in their video portfolio, without looking paranoid?

I made an art project recently and sent a link a out to a mailing list I'm on to show off. Someone responded saying they thought my project was pretty cool, and they wanted to re-edit the footage I shot because they are building a post-production portfolio, and want use it as part of that.

I'm an amateur when it comes to video, so I'm really interested to see what they do with it. I want to protect my footage, though. I don't want to come off as stingy and scare him away, but I don't really know the guy. We are part of a friendly community, but are not friends. I want to give him the raw footage and license it in such a way that he can use it for the purpose stated and that purpose only - as part of his portfolio so he can apply to jobs. I want to be able to use his edit to continue to show off, if I like what he did.

How do I cover my ass without looking like an ass? Is creative commons the way to go? I read through their licensing descriptions but I'm not sure any of them are specific enough for my situation.

Thanks for your help :)
posted by victory_laser to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
Licensing works is Hard. The reason CC exists is so that, if someone wants to put their work out into the world free (in either sense), they can be protected without worrying about consulting a lawyer.

Unfortunately, if the general purpose CC licenses don't work for you, then you probably should... contact a lawyer. You want to license this video to one person who can use it for professional non-commercial purposes, and you want to retain some or all rights to what he produces, which is not a bizarre request by any means, but CC licenses are for releasing works to the world at large, not individuals.

However, (and keeping in mind that IANAL), this page at BitLaw seems to read to me that granting licenses need not be a large affair. If you e-mail him and say "These are the terms under which you can use the work, is that okay?" then you're protected. (Keep the e-mails, of course.) (IANAL IANAL IANAL)

As to how this person will react, well, probably if they're serious about getting into post-production as a profession, then they should understand that you want to protect yourself. Just be confident and clear about the terms of the agreement and I can't imagine that it will be problematic. And if it is, well, he doesn't really deserve to have your works in his portfolio anyways.
posted by TypographicalError at 3:50 AM on May 18, 2011

IANYL. I've done a little work with artists as a lawyer, and here's the two things I've noticed: First, artists are WEIRDLY PARANOID about ways in which nobody wants to steal their work, and often have a sort of fetishistic attachment to legal protections that don't actually protect them (or, perhaps more to the point, the economic value of their work). Many will avoid excellent promotional opportunities in the fear their art will be "stolen" if there's a little 2"x3" photo of it in a pamphlet featuring local art and artists. But, second, many artists are WEIRDLY TRUSTING when their earning power may actually be at risk -- I've seen appallingly high-value artists operating at appallingly legitimate galleries with no contracts anywhere, which (unsurprisingly) often leads to disputes about payment and pricing and sometimes to litigation.

If this is a career path for you, or something you invest considerable energy into, I suggest reading the ACLU's "Rights of Authors, Artists, and Other Creative People" and take a look at's info on licensing art. (There's a link at the bottom to an eformkit which I'm not familiar with, so I can't tell you if it's any good.) If this comes up frequently, it's pretty trivial to have a lawyer draw up some licensing forms that you can re-use for various common circumstances.

(I suppose creative commons could work, but that's a bit more for releasing your work into the wild ... I'm not sure why you wouldn't just make a specific agreement when you clearly know what specific use you want to allow.)

This assumes you're in the U.S.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:41 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice. That's a good place to start.
posted by victory_laser at 2:40 AM on May 19, 2011

this is relevant to me because of where I live...if someone else stumbles upon this later, maybe there is a similar service where you live.
posted by victory_laser at 2:48 AM on May 19, 2011

« Older Firefox back button loads top of page instead of...   |   Maybe I could just write one... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.