One of the most common issues that I have been asked about by performers is – who owns the content when a relationship ends. Many performers/producers use their significant others in scenes as a way to minimize costs. That can be a smart approach, IF, it is done correctly. Most of the time it isn’t though.
Industry people tend to believe that the person that pays for the content and the associated costs (hotel room, testing, equipment ect) owns the content. This is false. Some believe that since they own the camera that was used to film the content – they would then own the content, again this is false.
It is the person that actually holds the camera and captures the scene that owns the copyright to the content. If that is not you, then you merely have oral license to use the content until, your ex-significant other, the actual copyright holder, sends you notice to cease and desist your use of the content, usually after your relationship ends. Oral copyright licenses can easily be terminated in writing. It is also quite possible that whomever edits your content also will hold an ownership/copyright interest in your content. Since it is their work and vision that creates the final product.
Depending on the number of scenes at issue, this can wipe out your entire website or clips’ store and drastically affect your revenue until you can replace the content. And if you decide that you are going to dispute your ex-significant other’s claim to the content, be prepared to spend thousands in attorney fees. This can be a very complicated issue to figure out – after the scenes have been shot and edited. Sometimes those fees are more than what the content is actually worth or could be replaced for.
None-the-less, it is vital that you own or at least share in the rights to the content. In order to do so you will need signed “Work for Hire” releases assigning the copyrights in the content to you from your photographer, videographer and editor. If you do not have these documents for every single scene, you need to immediately re-evaluate your content ownership rights. Without “Work for Hire” agreements on each and every scene, you do not own your content.
This will be one of the topics I will cover during my upcoming seminar at AVN/AEE 2018 in January in Las Vegas. If you are unsure of your content ownership rights, I suggest that you sign up and attend my seminar.
For more information on copyright and who owns your content please see;