Client hired my company to make 3 videos for them. Had lawyers write a contract instead of my contract. 3 years later asked to view the footage to grab some screenshots supposedly. Now they are making different videos for a different purpose using some of my footage without disclosing this. If there isn't a clause specifying the ownership of the footage explicitly, who is legally the owner? The copyright clause in the contract refers to it as "video produced by contractor".
I think that the answer is probably a little bit complex and fact-specific. For example, if a video was produced, and it did not use the footage in question, I would think it would be fair use for client to use that unused, unedited footage. Since the footage was taken for the purpose of the produced video, the produced video would belong as provided for in the contract. Footage that was used in the produced video would be the biggest grey area. Additionally, I think it would matter whether the project was fully completed. If you were never paid anything, for example, then your claim against their use of any of the footage prepared to make the commissioned video would be yours.
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