Fair Fees For Storm Footage

From: Martin Lisius <73124.1052@compuserve.com>


I've decided to stop working for a moment and set aside a few moments this evening to try and inform my fellow chasers what a fair fee is for good storm footage. Over the last year I have heard some fair fees paid and some awful fees paid to chasers for their footage. The chaser has always recieved the short end of the stick in those "awful" situations.

Storm chasers know storms. Many are competent videographers too. But, they do not understand broadcasting, as a rule. They shouldn't have too. Many chasers have been taken advantage of because of their ignorance of this industry. I don't like that.

When you shoot a storm you own the image on that tape (unless you do it for hire). You have automatically become the copyright owner. Your new property is immediately protected under Title 17 of the Federal Copyright Code.

I think some broadcasters believe that storm footage in particular is in the public domain for whatever reason. Maybe they think because it is a type of "disaster" image that it is news and is free. That doesn't matter. Whether it's a disaster or news or whatever, YOU own it. Anyone using your copyrighted material without your permission is subject to "SEVERE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES" under Title 17, United States Code, Sections 501 and 506.

What about a price? YOU decide that. It's your property. You can charge 5 cents or $100,000.

You should ask the potential buyer:


1. HOW MANY PROGRAMS WILL IT APPEAR IN? (Typically just one).

2. WHAT MARKET WILL IT AIR IN? (Local, regional, national, worldwide?)

3. HOW LONG DO THEY WANT THE LICENSE TO LAST? (one year, forever?)

4. WHAT MEDIA? (Broadcast, home video or CD-ROM?)


The broader the license they want, the higher the price.

Examples of fair market rates on GOOD storm footage:

All media, worldwide, unlimited term, ONE program: $50 per second.

Broadcast, U.S., ONE program, unlimited term: $35 per second. Add $5 per second for home video usage.

Broadcast, local, ONE program, unlimited term: $20 per second.

There are other markets and usages. This is simply a brief example. If a buyer wants a lot of volume, it is traditional to come down a bit.

BEWARE of "BUYOUT" licenses!!!!!

BUYOUT means the purchaser can use your footage for any media, worldwide, unlimited usage, unlimited term!!!! They can use it forever for whatever!

A buyout commands a very high price! Much higher than those listed above.

Be very careful when negotiating a buyout license. Tell the buyer you will call them back. Talk to a producer and/or a lawyer and sleep on it. Don't make any hasty decisions regarding a buyout.

Also, when you sell footage you are selling a license. Don't officially agree to anything without seeing it in writing so there is no misunderstanding. Also, the buyer's license is invalid if you (the copyright owner) do not sign it.

Just remember, you worked hard to get that storm footage. You invested a lot. You should be paid a fair market price. If you are not happy with the offer, you don't have to sell.

Chasers can e-mail me anytime if you have questions regarding this topic at 73124.1052@compuserve.com

Martin Lisius, Producer/Director


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