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Bioskop.Inc

When a Client Stops Being a Client & Becomes a Thieving Bastard!

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So this is another one of those warning posts about so-called clients & online video ripping!

About a year ago, I finished a short doc for a group that i'd done some work for in the past. It wasn't what I really wanted to do, but I thought "what the hell, i'll get a little pocket money whilst I finish off a short film" & their manager was a friend of a friend that I'd meet numerous times (nice guy, I know where he lives etc...don't think he's their manager anymore). So I did some live videos for them, they paid me & all was fine. They then wanted a short doc, so cool, no problem & we agreed on a price - it wasn't a lot, but I knew them & they didn't have a lot of cash, no problem.

I did it in my spare time, things evolved organically as we went along & eventually I got a bit bored of the ever changing ideas of the main protagonist. So I came up with a final version, which he liked (ego & all) - so all was fine. I had posted a few things here (PW protected & made totally private soon afterwards). It had taken a while to complete, as I knew they'd need time to get the cash together & had pointed that out to them numerous times - no problems, we're putting money aside etc...

Ha!

So when it was finished, I got the old "We don't have all the money at the moment. Let us have it and we'll pay you when we do..." Well I wasn't born yesterday - no money, no video & everything on Vimeo was made completely private (my eyes only). I've bugged them a few times about payment & then gave up all hope - the doc was finished Sept 2015!!!!!!

I've since moved on & started working with some friends on a collaborative effort of Sound & Vision - they've provided me with some great ambient music for my short film (other things too) & i've been doing some video work with them. So I re-edited the defunct doc Title Sequence for something else & expanded it further to it's full potential - really like it & don't care about the money side of things as I am a part of the project.

Today I found out that the original band I had done a Short Doc for had ripped a copy from Vimeo & posted it online a few weeks ago!

They've since taken it down, after I contacted them - they claimed it was an old copy (BS obviously, as they never got given a copy) & would look to pay me! I've contacted YouTube & Vimeo.

QUESTION:

Should I ask for the money they owe me, get paid a small sum of cash & hand over the Doc.

or Just say that some of the footage has now been re-edited for another project & legally it isn't their's now (which is true now, as I stupidly never got them to sign a contract), but I can re-edit a new title sequence?

or Tell them to go f*ck themselves the thieving motherf*ckers!

 

 

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Draw up a contract now for whatever cash they have to offer now. Put clauses in the contract that forbid them from ripping your new stuff. Re-edit and give them a half-ass version, cause they are paying you half-assed - put another clause in there that says you pay for what you get :)

Last clause should say that you are the true owner of the material and that you can do whatever you want with it.

Have them sign it, give them a copy and have them sign it. Explain for the most part that they are receiving the old stuff, not the new stuff and if they rip the new stuff you will sue. Also, in my opinion, so that it doesn't come back to bite you, you should ask permission and record conversations between you and these guys, so that they know what they are signing up to do... etc.

Take their money and don't look back.

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45 minutes ago, mkabi said:

Draw up a contract now for whatever cash they have to offer now. Put clauses in the contract that forbid them from ripping your new stuff. Re-edit and give them a half-ass version, cause they are paying you half-assed - put another clause in there that says you pay for what you get :)

Last clause should say that you are the true owner of the material and that you can do whatever you want with it.

Have them sign it, give them a copy and have them sign it. Explain for the most part that they are receiving the old stuff, not the new stuff and if they rip the new stuff you will sue. Also, in my opinion, so that it doesn't come back to bite you, you should ask permission and record conversations between you and these guys, so that they know what they are signing up to do... etc.

Take their money and don't look back.

That's kinda what I was thinking of doing - do a new Title sequence & then get them to sign something, so i cover myself. I'll keep contact via Email, just so that i've got a record of everything - no need to record people.

On the plus side YouTube were quick to react, but the video had been taken down - did a follow up with them to make sure it had been deleted & not just made private.

Vimeo, on the other hand, informed me how to rip a video from their site without using the download option! So for a paying customer, I was completely reassured!

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40 minutes ago, mkabi said:

Draw up a contract now for whatever cash they have to offer now. Put clauses in the contract that forbid them from ripping your new stuff. Re-edit and give them a half-ass version, cause they are paying you half-assed - put another clause in there that says you pay for what you get :)

Last clause should say that you are the true owner of the material and that you can do whatever you want with it.

Have them sign it, give them a copy and have them sign it. Explain for the most part that they are receiving the old stuff, not the new stuff and if they rip the new stuff you will sue. Also, in my opinion, so that it doesn't come back to bite you, you should ask permission and record conversations between you and these guys, so that they know what they are signing up to do... etc.

Take their money and don't look back.

First call them and record everything on the phone. Make sure you mention that you haven't been paid. Also say that they should finish the whole thing and that you can lower the fee, so that the matter is finally settled. Then say that you will make a 2 page contract and finish the whole thing. 

Write them a mail saying that since they never paid you for the work, you need not hand anything over to them and they using it would therefore be a breach. This is a Duplicate of the chat you had with them.

Meet them with the 2 Page Contrast, which should Include:

1. That you are the rightful owner of the copyright, and have agreed to share some portions regarding a documentary that you are making for them;

2. They have the right to use the documentary made by you as a showreel of rheir work or for other publicity reasons.

3. That all payments have been cleared and that in no way can they alter the work done by you, without your permission, and that at all times should you be credited as the author of the work. 

 

Don't mention "work for hire", or anything similar Anywhere in the Contrast. 

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10 minutes ago, sanveer said:

First call them and record everything on the phone. Make sure you mention that you haven't been paid. Also say that they should finish the whole thing and that you can lower the fee, so that the matter is finally settled. Then say that you will make a 2 page contract and finish the whole thing.

 

sanveer,  I don't know where you live but in the United States clandestinely recording a telephone conversation in many jurisdictions is strictly prohibited by wire tap laws.  In many cases you must inform the other party that the conversation is being recorded.  I am not a lawyer and laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

1 hour ago, Bioskop.Inc said:

Should I ask for the money they owe me, get paid a small sum of cash & hand over the Doc.

or Just say that some of the footage has now been re-edited for another project & legally it isn't their's now (which is true now, as I stupidly never got them to sign a contract), but I can re-edit a new title sequence?

or Tell them to go f*ck themselves the thieving motherf*ckers!

How much total time did you put into this project and how much money max are we talking about?

I don't want my name and work misappropriated.  Misappropriation degrades the value of my other work.  Usually when I've sold pictures I've used rights managed licensing with very specific geographic, time, and print run limits.

I won't go to war over $50.  I mean if these guys owe you a paltry sum of money I would just say pay me my fee and the video is yours to use as specified by a contract.  Otherwise walk away.  There is no need to get nasty or unprofessional.  If they don't pay you take it as a lesson learned.  In photo forums there are tons of GET A  CONTRACT threads.  I certainly would not give my work away for a pittance.

It's a balance.  You don't want to get taken advantage of but you don't want to engage in raging battles either.

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24 minutes ago, Damphousse said:

How much total time did you put into this project and how much money max are we talking about?

I don't want my name and work misappropriated.  Misappropriation degrades the value of my other work.  Usually when I've sold pictures I've used rights managed licensing with very specific geographic, time, and print run limits.

I won't go to war over $50.  I mean if these guys owe you a paltry sum of money I would just say pay me my fee and the video is yours to use as specified by a contract.  Otherwise walk away.  There is no need to get nasty or unprofessional.  If they don't pay you take it as a lesson learned.  In photo forums there are tons of GET A  CONTRACT threads.  I certainly would not give my work away for a pittance.

It's a balance.  You don't want to get taken advantage of but you don't want to engage in raging battles either.

Wouldn't go to war anyways, but it's more than £50.

As stated, the title sequence has now gone to someone else, so that will need to be re-done, but it won't take long to do - a few hours at best.

They've already taken the Doc down, so they know they did something wrong & could be in trouble. I knew I should have gotten them to sign a contract, but it wasn't a serious project for me (not much time or effort - except the title sequence, which has paid for itself since).

What pisses me off more is that they ripped the penultimate version way before they even said that they were having trouble coming up with the money - it's the bare faced underhand nature of it all. They had made their minds up that they wanted it for free, ripped it and then waited almost a year to post it - little did they know that I've been checking them out every few weeks or so.

Social Media can be your friend & the evidence that produces the final nail in your coffin!

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You would think musicians of all people would be more ethical when it comes to stealing somebody's work. Now I understand how important watermarks are. What sucks is the utter waste of everybody's time your situation was. They can't use your video and you obviously can't use the video with their image in a reel or any other promotional manner. I think your first instinct is the best... Open a line of communication and come to a mutually beneficial agreement, in writing, so you get something for your time but also  make the contract very clear so it protects you from any defamatory statements... Either libelous or slanderous. I'd also get a release so you can use the footage, with their likeness, in any manner you see fit in perpetuity. 

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1 hour ago, Damphousse said:

sanveer,  I don't know where you live but in the United States clandestinely recording a telephone conversation in many jurisdictions is strictly prohibited by wire tap laws.  In many cases you must inform the other party that the conversation is being recorded.  I am not a lawyer and laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

 

I think the US has the same law as most countries. You can record a conversation you are taking part of. Like the Mel Gibson tapes or radio show prank calls.

Dont know if there are state differences but that would be kinda weird.

"Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in-personconversations with the consent of at least one of the parties. See 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(d). This is called a "one-party consent" law. Under a one-party consent law, you can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are a party to the conversation."

 

EDIT: How about that, would never had guessed!

"States that currently require that all parties consent to the recording include: California,[21]Connecticut,[22] Florida,[23] Hawaii (in general a one-party state, but requires two-party consent if the recording device is installed in a private place),[22] Illinois (debated, see next section), Maryland,[24] Massachusetts[22] (only "secret" recordings are banned[25]), Montana (requires notification only),[26] Nevada,[27] New Hampshire,[28] Pennsylvania,[29] and Washington (however, section 3 of the Washington law states that permission is given if any of the parties announces that they will be recording the call in a reasonable manner if the recording contains that announcement).[30]"

So it still looks ok in most places and as long as you tell them in some.

Sorry for the OT but this kinda stuff always interest me since its a part of my job in some respects.

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35 minutes ago, mercer said:

You would think musicians of all people would be more ethical when it comes to stealing somebody's work. Now I understand how important watermarks are. What sucks is the utter waste of everybody's time your situation was. They can't use your video and you obviously can't use the video with their image in a reel or any other promotional manner. I think your first instinct is the best... Open a line of communication and come to a mutually beneficial agreement, in writing, so you get something for your time but also  make the contract very clear so it protects you from any defamatory statements... Either libelous or slanderous. I'd also get a release so you can use the footage, with their likeness, in any manner you see fit in perpetuity. 

The really incomprehensible thing is the main guy is so paranoid about people stealing his music/musical ideas that he's never released anything & then he does something like this!

I'm getting a contract drawn up & it will give them permission to post a new version on the internet (YouTube etc...), but that the rights to sell the doc for financial benefit will remain mine. As you said, I'll get them to sign off on being able to use any footage for a showreel etc...

To be honest, I thought I was done with these jokers & had moved on, until Facebook came to the rescue with a new window about people I might know and this idiots face staring at me - can't express how much I hate Facebook (amusing to begin with & then it became an info grabbing underhand organisation that sells your personal info to the highest bidder) and then this happens!

NB. I am not American, nor do I live in America and therefore, have no interest whatsoever about what is legal in the USA. Furthermore, I would never record someone in order to entrap them (unless it is for journalistic purposes) or have it/use it as some sort of proof, which it isn't. I would only use e-mail as a form of communication, as it now works in the same respect as letters do/did - get everything in writing, since it becomes a legal document & sending it is as good as signing it.

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6 hours ago, Bioskop.Inc said:

That's kinda what I was thinking of doing - do a new Title sequence & then get them to sign something, so i cover myself. I'll keep contact via Email, just so that i've got a record of everything - no need to record people.

On the plus side YouTube were quick to react, but the video had been taken down - did a follow up with them to make sure it had been deleted & not just made private.

Vimeo, on the other hand, informed me how to rip a video from their site without using the download option! So for a paying customer, I was completely reassured!

Here is the thing... you record to cover all the bases.

I know a written statement is more binding, but you don't want a chance for them to say that "he tricked me into signing it."

You ever think why do 2 people getting a divorce need a couple of lawyers to handle the splitting of assets? Can't they do it on their own, in a civilized fashion? They need 2 professional, unassociated/unrelated witnesses and a proper binding agreement. But you can bypass all of that if you ask permission to record the conversation of explaining the contract and having him sign it after explanation. Asking permission and recording the consent to record itself is also important.

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13 hours ago, mkabi said:

Here is the thing... you record to cover all the bases.

I know a written statement is more binding, but you don't want a chance for them to say that "he tricked me into signing it."

You ever think why do 2 people getting a divorce need a couple of lawyers to handle the splitting of assets? Can't they do it on their own, in a civilized fashion? They need 2 professional, unassociated/unrelated witnesses and a proper binding agreement. But you can bypass all of that if you ask permission to record the conversation of explaining the contract and having him sign it after explanation. Asking permission and recording the consent to record itself is also important.

No offence, but you can't trick someone into signing a contract. If you don't agree with something in a contract, then you ask for ammendments & you don't sign until you are satisfied - simple. Video can be just as legally binding, but I want as little face-to-face contact with this thieving idiot as possible.

It's a real shame in this day and age that people think that they can just steal someone else's work - especially if they post it on a public platform.

I was very impressed with the speed of YouTube, not so much with Vimeo - but i suspect if it had been posted on Vimeo they would have taken it down & banned the person.

Lesson learnt, get everyone to sign a contract regardless if you know them or not and Watermark footage - DOH!

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22 hours ago, Bioskop.Inc said:

I...never got them to sign a contract

Possibly no need to sign any contract, as a verbal agreement can be binding (UK likely to be quite similar to AU):

http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/5626/is-a-verbal-agreement-legally-binding.aspx

I think in this case I would be polite but firm; they might be into burning bridges but you don't need to as well. Instead you could ask for payment for the original work up front, since you already spent that time on it, but in addition, because more work now needs to be done, there will be an additional fee (whatever is reasonable to get it up to speed). If they agree and actually do pay up, then you can proceed to update the doc.  They get the video albeit at a higher price than if they had paid as agreed earlier, and you get fair compensation.

At any rate, the original agreement was broken (delay/theft), so it would be reasonable to renegotiate the fee in a new agreement, such that your time and effort, including sorting out the unpaid use of the video is taken into account. If they don't want to pay what you deem to be a fair use of your time, then simply decline.

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1 hour ago, Richard Bugg said:

Possibly no need to sign any contract, as a verbal agreement can be binding (UK likely to be quite similar to AU):

http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/5626/is-a-verbal-agreement-legally-binding.aspx

I think in this case I would be polite but firm; they might be into burning bridges but you don't need to as well. Instead you could ask for payment for the original work up front, since you already spent that time on it, but in addition, because more work now needs to be done, there will be an additional fee (whatever is reasonable to get it up to speed). If they agree and actually do pay up, then you can proceed to update the doc.  They get the video albeit at a higher price than if they had paid as agreed earlier, and you get fair compensation.

At any rate, the original agreement was broken (delay/theft), so it would be reasonable to renegotiate the fee in a new agreement, such that your time and effort, including sorting out the unpaid use of the video is taken into account. If they don't want to pay what you deem to be a fair use of your time, then simply decline.

Yep cheers, Richard. I do have a few emails/messages to confirm the fee etc...

I've got a draft email with a friend at the moment  - what i've done is to ask for full payment up front & then I'll make any changes to the opening/ending title sequence. They will also have to sign a contract which will stipulate what they can & can't do with the Doc and also what I am able to do with the footage (just use stuff for a showreel). Considering that they seem to have never had any intention of paying me in the first place, which is weird as they paid me for other videos, then I'm not going to charge them any more money. Will wait for a response, but it just goes to show that no matter what, you need to be on your guard with everyone.

I've also noticed that they've hired someone to do a video for them & just hope they don't pull this stunt on them!

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22 hours ago, Mattias Burling said:

Dont know if there are state differences but that would be kinda weird.

It's the United States of America.  Difference is not weird.  It is the whole point.  Each state has different laws.  You move to the state who's laws you like the most.  You can smoke weed in front of a cop in Colorado.  In another state if you do that a cop may summarily execute you for doing that... if your skin is a few shades darker than acceptable.  Lawyers from one state can't just go and practice law in another state.  They have to pass an exam and apply for a license for that state... Same with doctors.

California on its own is a G-7 country.  That's one out of 50 states.  Assuming you can do something in Cali and trying to do the same thing in Alabama will get you in a lot of trouble.  Walk around Manhattan with a gun on your hip like a cowboy and see how your day goes.

22 hours ago, Mattias Burling said:

So it still looks ok in most places and as long as you tell them in some.

No.  Everyone must know the law in their own jurisdiction.  It doesn't matter what happens in "most places".  And also if you "tell them" it's not clandestine.  That is the opposite of clandestine.  My admonishment was for clandestine recordings.

22 hours ago, Bioskop.Inc said:

NB. I am not American, nor do I live in America...

Sorry to derail your thread.  I just had to address sanveer's comment because what he was saying was by no means universal.  Like I said I am not a lawyer and I certainly don't know my local laws thoroughly let alone UK laws.  I just wanted to give a heads up to anyone reading sanveer's post that no matter what legal maneuver you are trying to pull the law doesn't necessarily follow common sense nor is it generally applicable to the entire planet.

3 hours ago, Richard Bugg said:

Possibly no need to sign any contract, as a verbal agreement can be binding (UK likely to be quite similar to AU):

http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/5626/is-a-verbal-agreement-legally-binding.aspx

 

Yeah but what some people aren't getting is the difference between legally binding and provable in court.  Where I live people get written contracts because they are provable in court.  Verbal contracts are binding but good luck proving what someone said.

On 9/29/2016 at 10:15 AM, Bioskop.Inc said:

 I'll keep contact via Email, just so that i've got a record of everything - no need to record people.

 

I have never been to court but I have used email exchanges in legal situation to extract payment.  I am not a lawyer and I don't know what it is like to go to court with email as your evidence but I can tell you when negotiating those emails made a lot of problems go away before I even had to call a lawyer.  Individual experience may vary.

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On 9/29/2016 at 7:03 PM, mercer said:

You would think musicians of all people would be more ethical when it comes to stealing somebody's work. 

Artist in general are the less respectful of other artists work, but musicians are the worst of all!!! Most of them               just know more drug dealers than chords!!! 

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6 hours ago, Bioskop.Inc said:

Considering that they seem to have never had any intention of paying me in the first place, which is weird as they paid me for other videos, then I'm not going to charge them any more money. Will wait for a response, but it just goes to show that no matter what, you need to be on your guard with everyone.

I've also noticed that they've hired someone to do a video for them & just hope they don't pull this stunt on them!

It's difficult to know what motivates people at the best of times. They may have intended to pay, had no money, became awkward about the whole thing, finally made a bad decision to use the video etc. People are not always straightforward, but in my experience, few people set out to deceive from the outset. On my better days I'd rather try and allow for people's imperfections and be somewhat more accommodating, just a little more cautious the second time around as you suggest.

On the contract thing, Damphousse makes the good point you also made; evidence of an agreement would be necessary to enforce the matter, be it emails, phone texts etc, which you say you have. A contract is generally better than less formal communication, being generally less ambiguous and more thoroughly thought out (I'm not a lawyer BTW, so this is just my interested opinion, but I've done some reading and had some dealings with such matters). However, you've got to wonder if for smaller projects wether a legal course of action is worth the money and effort, other than to use the threat of possible legal recourse as a lever to help the 'client' make the decision to pay. Probably the best use of a detailed agreement is that it leaves less room for error or misunderstanding, and so that both parties know where they stand and what is expected on the important matters.

I'd be inclined to give them a ring and have a coffee to discuss things either before or after your email if that seems appropriate. Emails sometimes can come off a bit terse, and verbal follow-up softens things a bit. Good luck.

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3 hours ago, Richard Bugg said:

It's difficult to know what motivates people at the best of times. They may have intended to pay, had no money, became awkward about the whole thing, finally made a bad decision to use the video etc. People are not always straightforward, but in my experience, few people set out to deceive from the outset. On my better days I'd rather try and allow for people's imperfections and be somewhat more accommodating, just a little more cautious the second time around as you suggest.

On the contract thing, Damphousse makes the good point you also made; evidence of an agreement would be necessary to enforce the matter, be it emails, phone texts etc, which you say you have. A contract is generally better than less formal communication, being generally less ambiguous and more thoroughly thought out (I'm not a lawyer BTW, so this is just my interested opinion, but I've done some reading and had some dealings with such matters). However, you've got to wonder if for smaller projects wether a legal course of action is worth the money and effort, other than to use the threat of possible legal recourse as a lever to help the 'client' make the decision to pay. Probably the best use of a detailed agreement is that it leaves less room for error or misunderstanding, and so that both parties know where they stand and what is expected on the important matters.

I'd be inclined to give them a ring and have a coffee to discuss things either before or after your email if that seems appropriate. Emails sometimes can come off a bit terse, and verbal follow-up softens things a bit. Good luck.

People can be strange & do silly things, but still theft is theft. The thing that really bugs me is that they ripped it from my Vimeo account a year ago (it was PW protected & I only left it like that for a week, afterwards it went completely private) - so they knew what they were doing & the theft was intentional. Now whether they actually thought about ripping it in order to upload it at a later date is something I'll never know, but the fact that they waited a year suggests that it might have been their long term plan. The fatal flaw in their plan is that I have been keeping tabs on them, as I had a feeling something like this was going to happen - 6th sense?

I am so pissed at the moment that I'm holding off with any direct contact, need a cool head first. Luckily a good friend of mine knows the manager (I do too, but again really pissed & will probably tear his head off) & is going to have a quiet word - my mate's appalled at what's happened and we both think that the manager is unaware of what they've done, so I think that will be a good first step. If he doesn't act, then I'll send the email I've prepared - it'll make them think twice, hopefully pay up & I know I've got the money to fuck them if I so wish.

The stupid thing about their behaviour is that i've got loads of their unreleased music, might even have their YouTube PW somewhere & they know that i'm good enough to twist their words to make a great Spinal Tap type doc that'll make them look like idiots (shit I made them sound good, when they weren't). Again, pissed & need a cool head. 

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