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Question re: Volunteer Work & Images
Old 10-14-2005   #1
Warren T.
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Question re: Volunteer Work & Images

I am volunteering my time to take some pictures of a local event held by a non-profit organization. I am not a professional photographer.

The organization will provide the film, and will do the processing. All I am doing is taking the pictures. They will use the images for promotional purposes, brochures, etc. I am more than happy to do this because it is for a very worthy cause.

I was just wondering if the organization will own those images, or what other arrangements might others make in this situation?

If I get some good images, I would love to show them as some of my work either online or in an album somewhere, but I'm not sure how this all works.

Thanks,

Warren
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Old 10-14-2005   #2
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Your best bet is to write it up as a contract which details their usage rights but maintains your ownership of the images. You might also wish to be credited when they use the images.

Just make sure everyone is on the same page before you start, and no one should have any problems.

I believe there are sample photographer contracts online all over the place...but maybe someone more law literate than me can point you to one.
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Old 10-14-2005   #3
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Not being a lawyer or anything but they are paying for the film and the processing...Guess they could argue its theirs...Maybe you could write up a contract between you and them saying that you own all rights to the pictures and they are allowed use of the images?
They seem to deal with this type thing over on the Photonet forums a lot, check there too.
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Old 10-14-2005   #4
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Thanks Guys! I'll check out your suggestions.

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Old 10-14-2005   #5
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If they paid for the film and processing, then it sounds like an "employment" type contract where they own the images and the rights but that depends on where you live/work.

This type of contract would make sense since that takes most of the hassles out of the way. A written contract/agreement would be best, but keep in mind that they will likely prefer to keep all rights to keep things simple, and if there are too many complications, they may simply say "forget the whole thing then".

An easy way around this, is to carry another camera with your own film.
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Old 10-14-2005   #6
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It may be different in the States but as they pay for the materials and costs they technically own the negatives and have use of them as they wish.

I shoot pictures at work as an aside of my job with learning disabilities and autism. Although I shoot during my working hours it's not part of my job description and they only pay for the paper. As such the negs are mine and I have control over their use.
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Old 10-14-2005   #7
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Although (to hypothetically muddy the waters) is owning the physical medium the same as owning the images

Tony: interesting, a couple of months ago I started my new job caring for people with learning disabilities...
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Old 10-17-2005   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren T.
I am volunteering my time to take some pictures of a local event held by a non-profit organization. I am not a professional photographer.

The organization will provide the film, and will do the processing. All I am doing is taking the pictures. They will use the images for promotional purposes, brochures, etc. I am more than happy to do this because it is for a very worthy cause.

I was just wondering if the organization will own those images, or what other arrangements might others make in this situation?

If I get some good images, I would love to show them as some of my work either online or in an album somewhere, but I'm not sure how this all works.

Thanks,

Warren
Talk it over with the representative of the organization and let them know what you want for donating your time... photo CD, credit for all photos published, permission to use photos of the event to promote your business, etc. Then confirm your agreement with an e-mail.

You may want to take a second camera, load it with your film and process it yourself.

R.J.
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Old 10-17-2005   #9
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Talking to them and reaching an agreement is the most important thing to do - get a meeting of minds with them. If they wish to use the images for their promotional purposes, and you are happy for them to do so then I would suggest that you retain copyright to the images, but grant them a licence to use them for specific enumerated purposes for a set period, or alternatively in perpetuity if you wish, without charge. It is normal that as the 'artist', unless specifically agreed to the contrary under contract, that you retain copyright and are free to use the images for whatever other purpose you may wish, although you should undertake not to use them in a manner which would conflict with the licence which you grant them (ie you will not compete with them or use the images in a manner which would be contrary to say their charitable objectives). Their payment of the film and developing is payment of associated costs in my view, it is not consideration for your time and skill. A simple one page contract along these lines including perhaps together with some mutual liability indemnification and waiver should suffice They're not responsible for your acts, gear etc and vice versa).

Standard form contracts will be more hassle than they worth. E-mail me if you need help!
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Old 10-18-2005   #10
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I did a similar shoot for a local organization last spring. The difference is I bought the film, had it processed and put to CD (and did a few custom scans for them). They paid me for materials via my receipts and had complete use of the pics -- but I kept the film and the rights.

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Old 10-19-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hugivza
Talking to them and reaching an agreement is the most important thing to do - get a meeting of minds with them. If they wish to use the images for their promotional purposes, and you are happy for them to do so then I would suggest that you retain copyright to the images, but grant them a licence to use them for specific enumerated purposes for a set period, or alternatively in perpetuity if you wish, without charge. It is normal that as the 'artist', unless specifically agreed to the contrary under contract, that you retain copyright and are free to use the images for whatever other purpose you may wish, although you should undertake not to use them in a manner which would conflict with the licence which you grant them (ie you will not compete with them or use the images in a manner which would be contrary to say their charitable objectives). Their payment of the film and developing is payment of associated costs in my view, it is not consideration for your time and skill. A simple one page contract along these lines including perhaps together with some mutual liability indemnification and waiver should suffice They're not responsible for your acts, gear etc and vice versa).

Standard form contracts will be more hassle than they worth. E-mail me if you need help!
Hugivza,

If Warren is working as a volunteer and he's injured while photographing the event, the organization's Worker's Compensation Insurer will cover him like an employee if they have a voluntary compensation endorsement on their policy. Most non profits that use volunteers have this endorsement. As a sole proprietor, Warren may not have WC insurance on himself.

Warren may not have General Liability insurance to protect his business from claims for bodily injury or property damage. For example, someone trips over Warren's equipment and breaks an arm. If Warren is acting as an employee or a volunteer, the organization's GL insurance policy would pay for the damages and the costs to defend him in court.

How could Warren word the agreement so that he doesn't waive any protection that the organization provides for its volunteers?

R.J.
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Old 10-19-2005   #12
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Unless Warren specifically signs his rights away in a written contract, or becomes an employee, the organization isn't entitled to the copyright just because they bought the film.

As has already been stated the best way to work this sort of thing out is in a written contract prior to any work being done.

I strongly suggest folks who are interested in this sort of thing check out some of the resources at Editorial Photographers:

http://www.editorialphoto.com/copyright/
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Old 10-25-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason_K
Unless Warren specifically signs his rights away in a written contract, or becomes an employee, the organization isn't entitled to the copyright just because they bought the film.

As has already been stated the best way to work this sort of thing out is in a written contract prior to any work being done.

I strongly suggest folks who are interested in this sort of thing check out some of the resources at Editorial Photographers:

http://www.editorialphoto.com/copyright/

TRUE! For them to "techinically" own all copyrights, you would have to sign a written contract provided by them that contains the language "WORK FOR HIRE".

With no contract, they don't own anything, unless of course they keep the negatives. Someone asked about this earlier, but it IS possible for a company to own the copyrights even though you may have the physical negatives (a non-profit tried that on me back in 1999). It all depends on "Work for Hire" and whether you agree to that term by signing the contract.

but hey. Since you're volunteering, another option is forget the whole contract issue. Get a set of prints/CD (as someone else mentioned above) and just don't use the images to sell anything other than yourself in your portfolio/website.

Funny thing: Non-profits never seem to have money for photographers, but they sure do have money for all the tables, chairs, DJ's, location rental fees, safety insurance and payroll for their executives and interns that they HAVE to pay for whenever they host an event.

Chris
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Old 10-25-2005   #14
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Will there be any celebrities at this event ?

R.J.
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Old 10-25-2005   #15
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Hugivza, what do you think about Warren sending this e-mail to the organization?
Dear ___,

I look forward to working as a volunteer for X Organization to photograph the X event on X date.

I will donate my time and the use of my equipment to photograph the event. X organization will provide the film and processing. I agree to give the organization the right to use my photographs in the organization’s publications and website. X Organization will credit me as the photographer whenever my photographs are published.

The organization will give me a photo CD made from the negatives and a set of prints. I may use images from the event as samples of my work as a photographer.

I understand that I will be working as a volunteer for X Organization and not as an independent contractor.

Last edited by RJBender : 10-25-2005 at 22:16.
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Old 10-26-2005   #16
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Sorry to be late in responding to this but the site has been down. Let me try to deal with the issues as I see them!

Ownership of the images/right to use

Warren should retain copyright in his images in my opinion as they represent his intellectual and artistic input. Since the organisation is a 'worthy cause' and he wishes that they are able to use the images for their promotional purposes, without cost or need to revert back to him every time they wish to publish something, there are a couple of points which need to be considered:

1) Warren retains copyright of the images, but grants to XYZ a licence, in consideration of the organisation providing the film and the processing of the images without charge to Warren, for use of the photos for uses directly connected with the organisation charitable principles (whatever they may be - it saves having to enumerate a whole list of things and the one that they want to use them for is missed from the list for example); providing that where appropriate, an acknowledgement of Warren as the photographer is made (it may not be possible or desirable in every instance). Each party undertakes to use their best endeavours in this regard - not watertight, but practical.

2. Warren undertakes to acknowledge the organisation XYZ in any published use of the photographs he may undertake, and further undertakes to use the photographs only in a manner consistent with the organisations principles. This may need polishing but the essence is that both need to assure the other that they are both free to use them, they acknowledge each other when they do, and they will only be used for appropriate purposes.

That's the easy bit!

The hard bit depends on where Warren lives and what the law says about liability etc etc. I cannot give any advice on this, see the disclaimer. If in doubt, see the disclaimer! General principles are as follows:

1. You cannot contract out of negligent events - if Warren inadvertently and negligently clips a child say with his camera, then he may well be liable for assault or damage or both. He may well be able to get coverage under the organisation's public liability insurance, he might have his own under a domestic or professional policy. This will depend on the terms of the policies. This is a complex area as it involves surrendering rights (subrogation) to the insurer in the event of a claim, and possible nomination on the policy etc etc etc. Warren should request the organisation to provide him with the benefits of any public liability insurance held by them, to the extent that they are able in consideration of him providing his services to them gratis.

2. There may be statutory provisions within his local jurisdiction which may help to limit his liability as a volunteer. Post 9/11 when insurance rates went North, some jurisdictions enacted legislation limiting the liability of volunteers and the like to reduce overall insurance costs, appreciating that many do not carry individual indemnity and public liability insurance. Here in Australia, most states and territories have enacted such legislation. It varies from state to state.

A letter along the following lines may assist:

"Dear

You have requested me to take photographs at the XYZ event on the 40th Doctober 2006. I am willing to provide my services to XYZ subject to the following provisions.

In consideration of XYZ undertaking to provide film and processing of photogrpahs taken at the event, I undertake to provide my services and necessary equipment free of charge, and will take suitable photographs at the event. I will retain copyright of these photographs, but grant a licence to XYZ to use any, and all of the images for their promotional and internal use, free of charge, provided that where possible and appropriate an acknowledgement of myself as copyright holder is given. This licence shall remain in effect until 43rd Febgust 2010, at which point it may be renewed by mutual consent.

I undertake only to use the images for my own purposes which are consistent with the XYZ's principles as provided in their Articles of Association.

In consideration of me providing my professional services to XYZ for this event, XYZ undertakes to indemnify me to the extent permitted by laws of the State of Nirvana for any acts, including negligent acts of commission or omission, but excluding any acts of gross negligence or deliberate intent committed by me, and will provide to me as a co-insured the benefits of any public liability insurances to cover any liability to third parties whether under tort or statute which I may incur as a direct consequence of providing my services to XYZ for this event".

I suggest that a draft of the letter be discussed with XYZ and used as an aide memoire before any final draft is agreed.

DISCLAIMER

The foregoing advice is provided on the strict understanding and undertaking that "hugivza" is not a legal practitioner, and recommends that legal advice be undertaken within an appropriate jurisdiction prior to making any commitments the subject of this advice, and further disclaims any liability whether under tort or statute within any competent jurisdiction to the extent permitted by law for such advice and any uses to which it may be put.

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Last edited by hugivza : 10-26-2005 at 01:20.
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Old 10-26-2005   #17
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Well, its better than what I do for a charitable organisation. Buy the film, pay for the processing, then give it to them. At least I take a tax write-off on the cost of the stuff.
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Old 10-26-2005   #18
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJBender
Will there be any celebrities at this event ?

R.J.
... maybe that's why the organization wants control over the film.

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Old 10-26-2005   #19
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Hi Guys,

Thanks for all your great suggestions. I really appreciate it. I did not have time prior to the event to write up a formal contract, but I am on friendly terms with the executive director of the organization. As I mentioned earlier, this is for a worthy cause. The event is an annual health fair in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It serves senior citizens and families, giving them exposure to health screenings and information that would otherwise be hard to get. Most of them do not have health insurance. I helped the non-profit organization get some images for use later in promotional brochures, reports, and newsletters.

While I am also capable of shooting high quality digital, I did not want to deal with the post-process work, so I decided to just volunteer my time and have them buy the film, and do their own processing. At this point in my life, I am an amateur photographer, and my days are busy with my regular job.

I decided to keep it simple as far as equipment. I had limited time, and I wanted a simple and fast operating setup. I chose to use my Nikon F4s, 24-135mm AF zoom, and my SB-28 Speedlight. The event was both indoor and outdoor. I used the SB-28 for fill lighting outdoor where there were mixed sun/shadow elements. I thought about bringing a 2nd body for shooting my own separate shots, either my Bessa R, or my Nikon D100, but in the end, I simply did not have enough time to mess with the extra gear.

At the end of two hours, I shot 5 x 24exp. rolls of Kodak Max 400. It was a very fun and satisfying experience. I got to shoot stuff on somebody else’s nickel, and I had the freedom to exercise my own creativity and vision in photographing the event.

I just got word yesterday that they got the pictures back from Kodak processing, and the pictures were great. They were very pleased. They will credit me for any images that they will use, and they will be making copies of the photo CD’s for me. I also explained to them how an agreement “should” read based on what I learned here.

Now I’m wondering if I can draft something up to be signed after-the-fact? What do you think? If not, as least now I know what to do for future evernts.

Regards,

Warren
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