This sounds very similar to the same rights an artist holds. The artist holds copyright on paintings (or other works) sold to clients unless copyright is sold along with the art, a situation of which many clients often need to be informed.
I certainly wish I could charge that much for a painting and be taken seriously, though.
There's few things more entertaining than watching a media company fuck up interpreting laws they themselves paid to have created.
Maybe we need a rule on the books somewhere that states if an individual or group who successfully lobbies for new legislation violates that legislation, the law becomes void.
I am absolutely baffled as to how SyFy (that name will never cease being idiotic) managed to do this without somebody from legal taking a letter opener and going on a stabbing spree.
Even if the cosplayers, as photographic subjects, had some rights to the photos (which is unlikely unless they have some very specific paperwork to that effect), they wouldn't have rights that 'cancel out' the photographer's rights, SyFy would just have two parties to haggle with in order to secure permission.
Especially if those photos are registered with the copyright office(or within the three month window for doing so), I'd count myself lucky to get a demand for only $3.5k/each... Statutory damages, no need to even prove harm, are $150k, and proving harm might be eminently doable for a major national TV show...
How hard would it have been to hire your own photographer and take your own pictures....
SyFy can burn for all I care....I'm still pissed about not having a season 5 of Farscape.
It just isn't monday at Boing Boing without reality TV, copyright law
and corporate bullying.
My experience with legal departments isn't especially broad nor deep but I'm guessing they don't proactively monitor situations in the company unless it takes the form of perusing material they've tagged with IT to preserve.
Doing a 'rights clearance' review before a film or TV show goes into production is a fairly common thing, so I would have expected some amount of legal involvement in a case like this.
Say what you will, Falcor, but changing the name to 'SyFy' was a big mistake. Changing the image along with it was an even bigger mistake. WWE, really? on the SyFy channel?
Given that they are commissioned to be done at a time and place of the employer's choosing, for a specific purpose, I've never quite understood why wedding photos aren't considered "works for hire".
Just for context: if someone hires me to write a commercial jingle, they own it, but if they hire me to put their poem to music, I own half of each.
Worse, if I create a logo for someone, they own it, but if I paint that logo on a sign for them, I can own the copyright on that depiction of the logo they own.
Copyright is a flaming mess.
I mean, come on... WWE is totally both Science Fiction and Fantasy (although I don't think their fans agree...)
This may be crazy to some, but IMHO, photography shouldn't be subject to copyright... at least, not all cases. If you're taking a photograph of a moment that happens, that is a fact. "This is what it reality looked like at a certain moment from a certain location at a certain angle" Facts shouldn't be copyrightable. Now, if you make an effort to create a scene, that can be, (or maybe if you arrange several photographs in a creative order, the order not being chronological, because that again is a fact), but if you do that, then the people who help you create the scene (such as by being in it in an elaborate costume they made themselves in the case of cosplayers) either share in the copyright (and sharing should always be permissive: if two people share a copyright, it only takes one person to allow a use of it), or a contract is signed which establishes otherwise.
But I've got a lot of crazy ideas that the laws (either those of man or those of physics) don't always agree with.
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