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Archive for January, 2012

Hey Artists! Please think about your usage rights!

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

To artists:

By John Calder (iafilm)

I am here as an emerging film-maker looking for content for my animated films to enter into film festival competitions. This should be a win-win collaboration for us but I am running into problems with usage rights. Some requests of you:

In any copyright statement you write, BE CONSISTENT with the usage rights statement that you have selected.  eg if you select “Limited Use With Credits” then do NOT state “Non-commercial use only” inside your zip or in your descriptive text.

If you feel protective of your work then say so.  Select the STRICT options of “All Rights Reserved” or “Non-commercial use only”.  I prefer and suggest that you all go with “Non Commercial use only” AND in your statement name your price for commercial clearance.  Personally I select artwork from because it is good rather than free and I WANT to pay you for it upfront because it gives me a better sense of security of usage permission.  Speaking for film-makers in general, especially my student film-makers, we do not want your little prop in the background of one scene lurking as a copyright bomb to spoil future opportunities.  These movies have something like a 1 in 3000 chance of getting money-earning opportunities  eg through winning a film festival award and even then would be way below turning a profit.  But we want to know your upgrade path in case the magic day should come.

BE CONTACTABLE.  If your email address is getting old and forgotten then put a redirection on it.   Again that is why naming your price is important.  We can go ahead knowing what will happen about clearance when we contact you.

BE REASONABLE about movie credits.  Short films need to have short credits and typically that would be one line of your name or username under a heading like “Additional Artwork”.  I can sing your praises in more detail on my “making of” website pages.

BE CLEAR about movie credits.  Some artists are protective about identity and want me to publish only their username.  Others want to see their real name up in lights.  Others want a pseudonym.  Which one are you?  Tell me!

DO NOT EXPECT a copy of the movie immediately.  We cannot risk leakage onto the public internet because that would disqualify us from film festival competitions.  I will try to give contributors as much as I safely can eg the shot where your coffee cup or whatever appears, but you may need to wait like a year for a full DVD or download.

I know via contacts with the game and film industry that producers often insist on creating all artwork from scratch or their own controlled sources.  They ban their contractors and interns from using sources like  I used to laugh at this and think that websites like this are a good idea.  Now after some bad experiences I can start to see their point.  It is a fact that commercial and emerging producers are avoiding this website and its artists which denies opportunities for the artists here.  You all need better copyright clearance management to get acceptance and hitch a ride forward on any film festival success or indie co-op success. can take note as well.  I suggest that it needs an e-commerce facility to take payments for upgrading non-commercial use to commercial licenses.  That would help with the difficult-to-contact-artist problem.

Independent Alternative Film-makers (iafilm)



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