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  • Time / Usage Limitations?

  • Jay Shelton

    March 6, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve been hearing some mixed thoughts / advice so I thought I would jump on here to take the temperature of those on the forum…

    Do you put any form of limitation(s) on how long a client can use a commercial / video production? Some production companies / freelancers put a stipulation in their contract that essentially says that the client can use this finished production XX number of months or days or whatever and after that point they have to pay a percentage of the total production cost in order to keep using that commercial / video.

    What are you thoughts / experiences? If you follow this, what kind of verbiage do you put?

  • Todd Terry

    March 6, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    We’ve done it both ways, it just depends on the project and the circumstances.

    Most of what we produce are television commercials. Generally with those they are buy-out, and the client is welcome to use them for as long as they like. With TV commercials they usually have a shelf life of their own, and most clients do not use them after a while (although we have one law firm client that ran the same spots for YEARS).

    There are some exceptions though. Maybe we use an actor that is only contracted for a period of time, or a SAG narrator that is only hired for a 13-week run, or such. In those cases we will license a project only for a specific period of time. If the client wants to use it after that time, they have to re-up.

    Sometimes that way is to a great benefit. Quite a while back we did a statewide TV campaign for community colleges. It was very successful, and two other states wanted to use the commercials customized for them as well. We did that, and licensed it to each of them for a year (we couldn’t do a buyout offer because of the actors involved). That turned out to be a good move, as one of the states has re-upped their licensing of the campaign year after year, for several years now. We’ve actually made a whole lot more money off of the re-licensing than we did on the initial production.

    The other limitation that we put on productions (although you didn’t ask about this precisely), is that for buyout projects a client may use them in perpetuity, as a whole. But they cannot alter them… edit them… change anything about them… and definitely NOT take any of the elements (such as footage) and use them in any other productions. If they want that, they have to come back to us. Only once has that been an issue, I saw a commercial for a former client on the air, using a shot we had created for a previous commercial. We put a stop to that promptly.


    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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