Hello to all here is my burning question: I came from Europe with all my equipment and worked for 3 months for a client. Prior to my coming there I send my terms for working and the agreed price and no complicated contract, just saying that a down payment will be needed of 30% and that food and lodging, airplane ticket and expensive s as such is not included on the price we agreed.

Now until today the client did not pay me anything and they claim I must hand over all RAW footage to them. I don't know about the USA federal law but here in Europe the video maker and in my case also photos in raw is the owner before a agreement for handing off is made.

During my stay there one of my camera's a ProHD JVC went broken the fire-wire board needs to be replaced and it will cost me over $1K

And I am more than willing to give them all the footage, including audio and photos in the case they pay. I think I am in my right.

  • Generally, if a person pays full price for a product (the raw footage), federal law would say that the person paying has a right to the product. And if a person does not pay for a product, they have no right to it. However, a contract between the two people could override this. It sounds as though your contract does not state what happens if there is partial payment. Does your contract state what that 30% payment is for? Commented May 5, 2015 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


Copyright law here says that the person who shoots the footage owns the footage. The only way to change this is if you sign a work for hire contract which says that the production company owns the copyright and that they'll pay you in exchange for your work and copyright. If they didn't pay you then they breached their contract. If there was no contract then you own the footage and don't have to give them anything. Something as simple as an email could be considered a legally binding contract though. I suggest you contact a lawyer who knows entertainment law in the US.

Save everything, emails, phone call records, written notes, receipts, plane tickets, reservations, anything that demonstrates your working relationship with this company and how much they have paid you and how much they owe you or should have paid you.

Sorry this sort of thing happens.

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_for_hire

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