DPP Home Business 5 Tips For Avoiding The Rights Grab

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

5 Tips For Avoiding The Rights Grab

Get exposure for your work without losing ownership of it

Despite Zuckerberg’s explanation, the controversy continued, and amid the tremendous uproar, Facebook allowed users to participate in the process of developing and ultimately voting on the adoption of a new set of service terms. While the current service terms no longer include an “irrevocable” or “perpetual” license, and don’t include the right to “prepare derivative works,” they do still give Facebook the right to sublicense content. Even today, Facebook’s terms of service include an extremely broad license.
If in doubt as to whether the dollars offered are worth the rights involved in the deal, it may be helpful to think of your business as a business, keeping your eye on the bottom line and the future value of the investment that you’ve made.
While none of the terms of service utilized by the other social-media sites has caused quite the stir as did Facebook, the fact that these services may change their service terms and other policies regularly was enough to catch the attention of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF created a website, TOSBack (www.tosback.org), to monitor various website policies, including a number of the major social-media systems, and to track changes in those policies. The website even provides side-by-side comparisons between certain versions of the agreements to make it easier to understand how those agreements have changed.

Rights Going For A Song
Another place where the "rights grab" manifests itself is in credential agreements. Since these sorts of agreements have drawn criticism from a variety of sources, some groups have attempted to use contracts that attempt to conceal the "rights grab."

The band Cheap Trick has required credentialed photographers to sign a "Photo Release Form." Buried near the end of the form appeared the following language: "[Cheap Trick] shall have the right to use the Photograph(s) for any and all commercial and non-commercial purposes whatsoever...and [Cheap Trick] shall have no obligation to make any payment to Photographer, the Publication, or any third party...." Not only does the language effectively obviate the photographer’s copyrights, it also avoids using the terms identified above that would clearly indicate a "rights grab."

Philadelphia-based concert photographer Michael Alan Goldberg was set to cover a Morrissey concert for Philadelphia Weekly when he received a copy of the credential agreement that would have to be signed at the concert venue. The credential agreement itself included a typical "rights grab," with Goldberg being required to transfer and assign all copyrights to the management company. The credential agreement even gave the management company the right to approve each photograph prior to its first publication in any media.

The terms of the credential agreement left Goldberg fuming, so much so that he wrote about the situation on "Make Major Moves" (blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/music/), the Philadelphia Weekly music blog: "Now, I am a very reasonable person, and I truly understand the perspective of management and artists in that they don’t want someone else to profit off of their likeness by taking the images they shoot and putting them on merchandise—T-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, whatever—and selling those, or selling the images to a tabloid or some publication that would depict them in a less-than-flattering light.... But to sign away complete and total ownership of my work to someone else who can do as they will with my work? No way. Absolutely not."


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