Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Work for Hire?

An Art Buyer from a respected global ad agency called today to ask my opinion. Turns out she has a meeting with one of the agency's biggest clients tomorrow (a HUGE packaged goods company for whom they've done some outstanding work) to respond to the client's cost consultant's recommendation that they initiate and enforce a work-for-hire agreement with all of the agency's creative "vendors" (I love that term...). For those of you who don't know, work-for-hire means that the "employer"(agency/client) owns ALL RIGHTS (including copyright) to anything produced on their behalf, in perpetuity. The originator has no rights to the work, nor does he or she receive any of the benefits other "employees" get (ie: insurance, 401k, supplies, etc..) It would be one thing if the budgets associated with work-for-hire projects were commensurate to the value of the copyright being granted, but unfortunately, clients pushing this agenda typically have LOWER budgets than those clients who aren't. Thankfully, this AB feels that such a policy could potentially have far greater negative consequences on the quality of the agency's work than the potential savings or convenience it would provide the client, and she was looking for as much ammo as she could get in order to make that case in the meeting. She's certainly right to be concerned, as work-for-hire is the last line in the sand for seasoned photographers and reps with integrity, and no one I know would agree to work under those terms. I wonder how long that will be the case...

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