Issue on a Signed Contract...

Dukey

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Hello Everyone,

I appreciate any helpful responses. I am a little new at this. Recently I was ask to be volunteer photographer for an Acrobatic Theatre show. I went to the rehearsal and performances shooting photos. It was a friend who was in the show, who had mentioned my name to the director, so it wasn't just random email. They said I would be credited on the website and promotional ad. So In one of the nights shooting, the director came up to me and apologized about this late "contract" I had to sign. But it was kind of strange, it wasn't an official contract, it was really a printed out Word Document. But anyway it stated.


"By signing this document, I hereby agree to these terms and conditions in regards to photos and or video footage acquired during Aerial Acrobat Entertainment's production of Under the Big Top.

-All photos and or video footage maybe used for promotional use only, not for profit
-Prior to use of any photos or videos for promotional use, a written request must be provided to Aerial Acrobat Entertainment for approval. "


It understand it was unprofessional to have me signing something in the midst of the process but I also know that this was a small company and the director haven't done this too many times, plus it was a friend who recommended me. None the less, I called my friend who was more knowledge about this kind of stuff and ask him about it.

It basically came down to this, If i signed it, it would protect me if they decided to sell any photos of mine and It would certainly protect their image if I were to sell any of these photos. I would be using these photos for personal portfolio as long as it wasn't for profit. OR I could go tell them to go Fck themselves, leave in the midst of my photo shoot and leave in bad terms and probably no connections I've already established.


I don't know, I'm still a kind of new and maybe I got haggled but I ended up signing. The director was sincerely happy and really apologetic about it. I walked away with seven business cards and everyone thanking me. I'm not here to screw anyone over or get a better end of a deal, I just came to shoot photos and this "contract" was a a real curve ball.

But I looked over this "contract" again and realized its really kind of general
"-Prior to use of any photos or videos for promotional use, a written request must be provided to Aerial Acrobat Entertainment for approval."

does that mean I need permission to promote myself? Can I not post these photos on Online? website flickr etc? I know I can't sell them for profit but what if I were to "donate" a photo? The situation is really hanging over my head. I think I took many great photos but it seems I have to clarify a negative connotation to them. What are some of your opinions?
 
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tirediron

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The literal interpretation is that you can't do anything with the images without their permission and regardless of how it was printed, if it's signed by both sides, it's official. I understand the position you were in and your reasons for signing, but personally, I would have walked away. I may be getting cynical in my old age, but I can't help thinking that approach was intentional.
 

Overread

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Most private places (zoos are a great example) do have slightly similar wording in that you can't commercially use photos taken on their site (purchase of ticket is your signature to the terms of entry to the zoo). However its more interesting to see that this contract techincaly prevents you from also using the shots as part of a general portfolio or display without prior permission.

The question then becomes how strongly they enforce this contract - often many of these contracts (esp by small groups) aren't well thought out legal documents but printing examples off the net - they read the blurb and get a general idea and get one that suits them without thinking too far into the whole ramifications of some statements for the other party. I would have agreed to the commercial limits (since you were getting paid for the shots to start with) but the portfolio aspect I would have contested or ask for greater clarification at the time. In the future always get the contract before you start working.

As for now your only option is to phone up and inquire about this point in the contract - gaining (in writing) the specific permissions if needed and then go on from there. Make sure to get things in writing as the last thing you want is for them to have a change of heart (or appoint someone new to managing photos and such) and revoke or contest your portfolio use and for you to have no paper proof that prior permission was given.
 

KmH

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Yes, it was very unprofessional of you to not consider this before you accepted the assignment, volunteer or not.

You learned 2 very valuable lessons:
  1. Contracts, and issue of usage, should be delt with before any photos are taken.
  2. It's best if the contract being delt with is your contract, not theirs.
And you're going to learn a little extra - Because the photos were made in a controlled, private setting, you can't use those photos for self-promotion or self-publishing without permission from each person in the photos either. That is called a model release.

Being in New York state, you should also beome familiar with New York's laws regarding 'right of publicity' and model compensation for model release purposes.

I recommend the following 5 books:
Best Business Practices For Photographers by John Harrington - www.johnharrington.com

Professional Business Practices in Photography by the American Society of Media Photographers - www.asmp.org

Business and Legal Forms for Photographers and Legal Guide for the Visual Artist, Fifth Edition both by Tad Crawford.

A Digital Photographers Guide to Model Releases by Dan Heller - www.danheller.com
 
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D

Dukey

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Thank you all for the replies,
There are also a couple of more things to consider.
-I didn't sign my real signature, After talking to my friend he said I could get away with a false signature because they didn't for my social security # or ID.

And

-I still have the photos and haven't released them yet

I don't think they're trying to screw me over and I'm not trying to screw them, I even told the director that I would use the photos for personal use and not for profit and on flickr and my website, which she seemed fine with but in the case that it was all a smiley face for me to sign the contract, Could I protest that it wasn't a real signature and withhold photos?


As for now your only option is to phone up and inquire about this point in the contract - gaining (in writing) the specific permissions if needed and then go on from there. Make sure to get things in writing as the last thing you want is for them to have a change of heart (or appoint someone new to managing photos and such) and revoke or contest your portfolio use and for you to have no paper proof that prior permission was given.

What is the best way to go about this permission? Should I email them so that it is in writing; basically telling them i would use it for promotional use?





Because the photos were made in a controlled, private setting, you can't use those photos for self-promotion or self-publishing without permission from each person in the photos either. That is called a model release.

Not even in flickr, my own website, or even hard copies to show clients? Do I have to sign a contract with each person?
 

KmH

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Because the photos were made in a controlled, private setting, you can't use those photos for self-promotion or self-publishing without permission from each person in the photos either. That is called a model release.

Not even in flickr, my own website, or even hard copies to show clients? Do I have to sign a contract with each person?
If your Flickr is not for personal use only, yes, you need a signed model release (a model release is not a contract) from each person to post (self-publishing)photos they are in, or to show to potential clients (self-promotion), as protection against legal action from any of those people.

Plus, New York has 'right of publicity' laws you need to be aware of.
 

skieur

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The easy answer in the situation is that I don't sign a contract as a volunteer and unless I am paid, I own the rights to any photos taken and will sell them to you on my terms.

skieur
 

abraxas

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Write them a list of how you want to use them-

Portfolio
Internet sharing (flickr, forums, etc)
...

And see what they say.

If they say no, then you've wasted your life.

If they say yes, ok.

Either way, learn from it.

-
 

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