Municipality's RFP for photography wants to own the copyright... is it worth it?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by epp_b, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm reading over a Request for Proposal that was sent out by the municipal government (small town of ~4,000). They are looking for professional-quality photographs, to place in a digital archive, which they would use promotionally for the town. They're willing to pay up to $2,000 for a body of work that includes photos of local events and activities throughout the year.

    The only thing that concerns me is the line about the RFP is this line: "Rights for photos will belong to the [town]". Now, this is somewhat ambiguous and I suspect that there may be some naivety in the person who wrote this as to just what, exactly, this means. Whether it means that the town wants to own the full copyright (meaning I can't use them for my portfolio, I can't sell them, etc.) or whether the town just needs a set of rights to use the photos for promotional purposes is something that I have yet to determine.

    The town does have a lawyer and maybe he had a hand in writing the RFP, so let's say, for now, that the town wants to actually own the copyrights. If this is the case, I'm leaning towards "no" ... what do you think?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I would verify what is meant, and if they do want the copyright, counter-offer with a non-exclusive license of unlimited use in perpituity. If they insisted on copyright, that probably wouldn't bother me greatly, but $2000 doesn't buy a very large body of work, so a lot would depend on the quantity of images they expected.
     
  3. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Take their hand off, 2 grand for a few headshots/summer fetes and other small town garbage seems like a deal to me, charge seperately for your shoot/process time and your laughing, jumped up local gov twits with plenty funds to waste sounds like you could be earning for a while to come. Its normal here to relinquish copyright for commissioned work like this, tearsheets of whatever they publish are your portfolio. H
     
  4. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That's exactly what I was thinking.

    I've read this three times and I still don't understand what you're trying to say.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  5. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Take the money, charge for every shoot, the 2 grand is for copyright release, and any of your work in print you use the magazine page for your portfolio.

    Read the copyright act, copyright is not always retained by the photographer in commercial/editorial work, these people wish to commission you, give them the rights they won't be demanding you can't have the shots in your portfolio, (originals) or a magazine tear sheet.

    From experience local government officials are a bunch of tossers spending ratepayers money, there is plenty available even in a small town, now, go get your share. HH
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I believe Flash Harry is saying, make your own proposal, that is, a pay as you produce deal, and pretend you never saw their RFP.

    Copyright is for the life of the creator + 50 years in the "True North Cold and Freezing" (if that means Canada).

    However as I understand it, in Canada copyright is owned by whoever commissioned the work (the client). So, portrait photographers only get copyright ownership if there is a copyright transfer clause in their contract whereby the client signs copyright over to the photographer.

    As tirediron said, $2000 doesn't buy a very extensive "body of work" that also includes the use terms "Rights for photos will belong to the [town]".
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  7. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    I do not know if you are a published photographer, but this sounds like a good deal for a beginner.

    Lets see;

    1. you get published in town and who knows where - cost, oh you are getting paid

    2. People get to see your work, which could develop into who knows what - cost, oh you are getting paid

    Do you notice a trend.

    The only dim light here is that you may not be the only person who is thinking like I am...;)
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The copyright isn't an issue for me. I'm certain they will agree to allow you to use the images for self-promotion. And... they're likely to agree that you can sell prints to the people you shoot. They just want to be able to use the photos anywhere, anytime, as often as they like and for any use.

    What IS an issue for me is an open-ended time agreement. Be sure you specify just how much time they can book you before incurring additional costs. (how many hours, or how many events)

    -Pete
     
  9. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I see your point here, but that's not going to work.

    They aren't going to take kindly to spending $2,000 on "copyright release", something they can't hold in their hands or see on a computer screen. They want to spend $2,000 (or less) and for that to be the end of it; they aren't looking to do "work for hire" shoots. The RFP specifically states, word for word, "Project not to exceed $2,000.00 which is to include all photo rights".

    No doubt it is, I just want to make sure I'm not being taken advantage of. That's why I came here to ask these questions to people who know more about the "businessy" stuff than I do.

    I suspect so, yes. I just think that the best balance in this context is that I retain the actual copyright and give them a fairly open-ended license; ie.: they can use the photos solely for municipal promotion with no time limitations, but I retain the full copyright to do whatever I want with the photos.

    Somehow, I don't think they're interested in going into the detail of booking time. I foresee a fairly simple arrangement: I take a bunch of pictures in the specified context, I supply them to the town, the town pays me the agreed-upon amount, the end.

    However, you did give me a good idea in terms of how many photos I should be prepared to provide to them based on based on how much time I'll spend creating said photos.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  10. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    2 Grand isn't a large amount of money, especially if they want you to attend a lot of events, I'd find out how many events and their locations, if they're out of town then they'll cost you both in time and money. The upside is the free publicity. I would still consider the work depending on the number of gigs, I'd stipulate that any published photo credits you and also that you can use the images for your portfolio. I'd give it a miss if they want you to be at their beck and call over the period, tops I'd do four shoots. H
     
  11. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Remember, this is an RFP. Potentially, there could be 10s if not 100s of respondents.

    I would say it depends on where you are in your career and how badly you want this exposure.

    When new in business, the inexperienced and hungry generally will go a lot further to get a foot in the door. Only you know what you may be willing to do to land this.

    Good luck - let us know if you respond to the RFP, and the results if you do.
     
  12. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Actually, the proposals were due two weeks ago, but I only found out about the RFP yesterday. I was told that proposals will still be accepted until the end of this week and that they have received very few so far.

    Based on a worksheet I threw together for myself to calculate the hours I'd spend on every aspect of the project (shooting, processing, networking, etc.), it basically comes out to minimum wage. I guess I just have to decide if the exposure and experience will make up for that.
     

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