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Need help with old boss.


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#1 colour8k

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 09:20 PM

I worked at a tv station for one of the worst bosses I have ever encountered. I put my two weeks in and quit after 7 months. Ever since he has been harassing me because of the content on my reel that I created while employed there. He says it is copyrighted material, which some of it is. I have never had an employer do this.

I created a new name for my freelance online presence, but he hunted me down again and is threatening legal action. This station is not that big and I doubt his bosses would agree to take legal action. It's freaking crazy... I need some advice on what to do, Although it was just a tv station I actually did some pretty decent work there and it looks good on my reel.

Has anyone ever dealt with this before?

As a boss, would you really sue over 3 short clips in a reel?

I can ask for all the paperwork I signed when I started.

I just need some help, I would appreciate any advice!

#2 thekinginyellow

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 09:54 PM

if you made the stuff in the reel then you own a piece of it. i'm still on the fence about editors having reels because all it shows is that they know how to cut stuff which is a valuable skill set. but if you are a shooter and/or an animation/motion graphics artist then the work you produced whether it be for a company or not partly belongs to you. if this crazy news guy wants to draw up a contract and buy you out of your involvement i think that would be an option.

hopefully others will chime in in this thread and not the four other ones you posted so we can get a discussion going.

#3 krpdesign

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 10:06 PM

coulour 8k...

i cant speak to whether i would do this as a boss or not, but it seems like the guy is hell-bent on making sure you don't use these pieces. he may have his reasons, or it may just be a personal grudge, but you've already admitted that you have these copyrighted clips on your reel.

if you can find something in your original paperwork that says you'd be allowed to use them on your reel, you're fine, keep em in. if you can contact someone else and get written permission to use them, you're fine, keep em in. but if not, you might want to take those clips out.

as a possible workaround though, i would maybe just recreate very similar but different versions of the "offending" pieces. change the colours, maybe a typeface or two, a logo... (kinda depends what it is). now its yours. :)

#4 butler

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 10:25 PM

Another easy work around would be just to post your FULL reel under a secret link or website or have a password to access it and give it out to any place you are applying to/interviewing for/freelancing possibility/etc. Then just have an edited one without that content on your website or wherever you are putting it.

#5 Aaron Scott

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 10:29 PM

What country are you in? Depending on your laws, demo reel clips could be considered fair use / fair dealing. Assuming that these clips weren't from strictly internal projects, you should be in the clear. But you'd probably want to check with a copyright lawyer to know for sure.

#6 destro

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 11:45 PM

Until you get a letter from a lawyer telling you to stop, keep putting your work on your reel. The ex-boss is probably just being a jerk and doesn't have the backing of the TV company in the threats.

#7 joedonaldson

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 06:23 AM

I agree with Destro. You are really in no danger until those letters start coming in. Your boss most likely has a personal vendetta against you and is trying to intimidate you. I used to work for a news station and he most likely does not have the power or authority to back up his claims. TV stations have much bigger fish to fry than a former employee putting 3 clips in their reel. The best you can do is credit them in a reel breakdown and leave it at that until you hear otherwise.
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#8 Mylenium

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 05:24 PM

Depends on the specifics, but given that you worked for a TV station I doubt you ever had to sign extra NDAs just well as already thousands of users have seen your content on air. Thus rules of fair use would probably apply as long as you do not mispresent the work and keep others' rights intact...

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#9 edrhine

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:39 PM

If you credit the work and it is not going against something specifically that you have signed (ie... work for hire or signed away your rights) then you are more of less fine. I would include a break down of specifically what you did on those cliips. Even if you get a cease and desist letter from a lawyer, you would still actually need to go to court to have an injunction passed on the site and I doubt they are going to do that.
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#10 Zickar

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:29 AM

I usually try to stay away from using Logos because someone once told me (although I'm not sure its 100% Accurate) that logos are copyrighted but not the material . I post a lot of stuff on my reel that is mainly animation and just post a logo animation or two to show the skill . In case anyone hassles me the easiest answer is that I simply created these again at home , after all most of the time we as 3D artists create pretty much everything from models (sometimes) to animation and compositing so its safe to say we could have just replicated it ... If the problem persists you could always remove some of that stuff and post newer stuff

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#11 edrhine

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 10:21 AM

This is always a difficult area, but really as far as I know (and that is def not the end all) if the work is released and public, then your representation of the work you did on the job is not copyrighted or trademarked. If it is a commercial spot, hopefully thousands if not millions of viewer have seen the work, as that is the intention of the end client. Depicting your work, with appicalbe credit and breakdown should never be against anyones "copyright". A good example would be if you create a new logo for Coca-cola. That is shown to millions of viewers and not a trade secret but it you do an animation of a new process of bottling for them it could be a different issue,

The bottom line comes down to us as artist actually having contracts and knowing what we sign. I have work that cannot be shown for two more years due to patents and trademarks, but others that are completely open game.

Overall its really a matter of you and your client and establishnig a relationship where they realize your necessity to show new work and their necessity to keep their innovations "secret" until the time of release.

If its already released, its a bit crazy to think that the added bonus of your work on the project and promotion hurting them is a bad thing.

Once again and always refer to contracts on here and make sure that they are in place to protect both parties
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#12 vdeanda

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:36 PM

Just started a thread on this very topic, good info here. I too was wondering if reworking something (changing colors, changing camera moves, removing any branding) would be okay to keep on your reel.

#13 AromaKat

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:54 PM

In the US, it is fair use unless:

A ) You re-sell the material
B ) Started a company and give the impression that the company was contracted to produce the works shown
C ) You signed some sort of agreement that forbid you to display works created for self-promotional purposes

Its also better to use excerpts rather than show the full piece - especially if the viewing of the content is otherwise somehow monetized. If only a snippet is shown in your reel, your totally fine.

By default, yes, it is their property, since it is work for hire - but content creators who display works created for self-promotional purposes are protected under fair use.


I too was wondering if reworking something (changing colors, changing camera moves, removing any branding) would be okay to keep on your reel.


Don't do that. Leave as-is. Changing stuff would only hurt your case, because then it would look like you re-purposed their material.

Sometimes you can ask what the concern is, and you can find some sort of mutual agreement. For example, I had a request to take a clip off my site (displayed in the reel and as a whole piece), because they updated their video a year later from a different source and no longer wanted the video I created publicly accessible because their business model changed. We agreed that I would remove all tags and photos that could show up in a google search result when they searched for their company. Simple, fair, and understandable.

**Note that I did speak with a lawyer when I was wondering the same thing, and this was the conclusion. You need a reel to get work, so when it starts costing more to fight them in court than your making by getting gigs - maybe re-evaluate.

Edited by AromaKat, 09 February 2012 - 09:26 PM.

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#14 vdeanda

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:30 PM

Thanks @AromaKat. What about showing mograph pieces on your reel that were unused? In other words the client didn't like them or the design went in a different direction? Those should be fair use, correct?

#15 AromaKat

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 01:48 AM

I think most have a piece or two in their reel that ended up not being used or was tweaked by the client, but is their personally favorite version.

Even agencies do that.

Edited by AromaKat, 10 February 2012 - 01:49 AM.

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#16 iline

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 04:24 PM

It's your work. Even if you assign copyright to the client or studio on your contract, or sign an NDA, you are expressly at liberty to re-distribute the works on which you have contributed provided that the work has already been shown and that you are not making a profit from the sale of the work. The grey area of showing the versions you did at home three weeks later (or the failed pitch pieces that were excellent but unused) is moot - personally i've been called up on this before.

Yor ex-boss is a dick, from what you are saying, but I understand that he doesn't want you to take credit for work upon which you may have played a minor role. Even if you did the whole thing yourself for his studio, studio owners have some kind of Jungian separation angst, thinking that you're going to start your own studio and say that you did the work solo. Reassure him.




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