Welcome Back to the Community Table: Agents in Conversation with San Francisco Art Producers. The Main Course Part II

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For those of you just joining us, welcome to Community Table  SF– the latest series of blog posts sharing conversations held directly with our community leaders about top of mind industry issues. Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.

 As a reminder, each Conversation Starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing.  Not surprisingly, many of the answers were similar to those of our LA and NY colleagues.   Therefore, rather than sharing the entire conversation, we included the original question and then the quotes and notes that were most relevant.  Please note, often times the person leading the conversation spoke most often.

And with that, we welcome you back to the table.

Please note, there will be eight posts shared over the month of April.  Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for the latest installments. Link here to read  The  Appetizer Part I,  The Appetizer Part II and The Main Course Part I.    To see our other Community Table posts from LA and NYC, please link here.

San Francisco Participating Art Producers

Owen Bly:                               Art Producer/Freelance

Kate Stone Foss:                     Art Producer/Freelance

Cameron Barnum:                   Art Producer/BBDO

Shayla Love:                            Art Producer/Razorfish

Suzee Barrabee:                       Art Producer/Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Dan Southwick:                       Art Producer/ Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Kristin Van Praag:                   Art Producer/Heat

Jacqueline Fodor:                    Art Producer/Venables, Bell & Partners  

Rebecca Lanthorne:                 Art Producer/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

Analisa Payne:                          Art Producer/Freelance

Justine Barnes:                        Art Producer/Duncan Channon

Marissa Serritella:                   Art Producer/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners



Unlimited Use

Do you think that the Unlimited Use/Unlimited license is what clients are becoming accustomed to expecting?

Jacqueline Fodor/Venables, Bell & Partners 

Yes, they say they want ‘full ownership’ and I clarify that they want unlimited usage and you not copyright. I explain that they can’t have copyright, that they don’t need it. But it’s the perception. They just wan to be able to have it and use it forever. Then we have the conversation about whether they are really going to use it for everything or if it’s just going into their library.

Lauranne Lospalluto/Heather Elder Represents

What comes up is that clients don’t know exactly how they are going to use it. They just  don’t always know.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

Born from the idea that you just hand over a hard drive and you’ve got your thousand of images from the shoot so who wants to take the time to separate what they want from what they don’t want.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

Did you read the Leslie Burns post about the photographer who took Sketcher’s to court? They had done so much post production to his image that they were claiming co-authorship.  What saved the photographer in court was that he had separated out usage and day rate. It was a reminder never to lump those together.

Jacqueline Fodor/Venables

If I lump it together, it’s harder to negotiate down the fees.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

When a project has a limited budget, we waive the day rate fee and do a line item for usage only. That way we protect the use fee in case there are additional usage needs later.  We will make sure to indicate what the day rate is in case there is a need to refer back to that later.

Marissa Serritella/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

In some ways I think more clients are asking for unlimited use and time – trying to stretch their dollars in these times. If they’re willing to pay a fair amount for the use it can be good, on our end anyway, so we don’t have to deal with reuse all the time (though I know photographers don’t really like that). On the other hand, some clients have been asking for a lot of options for very limited uses to see what they could afford to buy – that can often get tedious and hard to keep track of (and somewhat short sighted).

I haven’t negotiated transfer of copyright in about 10+ years.

Rebecca Lanthorne/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

We have never done a transfer of copyright. Even if they get unlimited use, most clients are fine with the photographer using it on their website so long as it’s exclusive and they’re not going to sell it to someone else.

I won’t release it until I know it’s in market and check with the accountant and the client to make sure the campaign is live and I can send it to the photographer. I can only send it when the campaign is live and out in the world.

I think unlimited usage is requested so often because we’re trying to leverage assets across a lot of mediums: print, TV, online. There are a lot of unanticipated uses that come up at the time that you’re coming up with the concept. So it’s easier to get unlimited use even if we put a time cap on it.

I’m not getting unlimited time, but unlimited use for a period of time. Some clients ask for unlimited time because who else is going to use MINI Cooper images? I explain to photographers that there is no way for them to profit off these images later on. It makes sense that they want all that use.

Lauranne Lospalluto/Heather Elder Represents

And the product gets out of date.

Rebecca Lanthorne/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

Yes, I tell them they want unlimited time, but we’ll be in touch next year. Everyone gets bored of everything.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

Do you have conversations around unlimited use and time as something that has changed? Or is it defacto?

Rebecca Lanthorne/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

There’s more education when we get really specific with the usage. We encourage them to do a broader buy as well since they will probably use it somewhere else.

Cameron Barnum/BBDO

I feel very strongly that the licensing structure is becoming old fashioned. A holdover from before the internet age.   A question popped up here about clients using images on their Facebook pages. What do you do? Negotiate a different Facebook usage based on limited terms of duration?

Suzee Barrabee//Goodby Silverstein & Partners

No way you can regulate. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.

Cameron Barnum/BBDO

Keeping track of all of this and properly communicating to the client that something has expired five years down the road when the entire staff at the agency might have changed. Challenges for photographers and reps—is this model old fashioned?

Kristin Van Praag /Heat

I think what we’re talking about is worrying about every single usage. But usage based on time might still be valid. I think everything is content now.



We don’t do a lot of print now. But when we did, it was easy to say so if you consider it all one pot of content. With video, there is no copyright. Only the talent get compensated when usage is extended.

I just worked with a photographer who shot video and a director who shot film. The photographer wanted twice as much in fees because they wanted usage. The director wanted $3,000 and the photographer wanted $25,000. So there was no way we could use our whole production budget for a fee that was kind of arbitrary and coming from the world of copyright. It ruined his chance of getting the job.

And at the same time it was interesting to see how the video world bills compared with the old-fashioned photography world.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

With video, there is generally a big markup unlike with photography.


I’m curious too. This is what we are experiencing. A markup is fine, especially if it’s just 10%.

Cameron Barnum/BBDO

It’s usually 20%.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

So when a photographer shoots video, you’re not expecting usage?

Kate Stone Foss/Freelance Art Producer

I’m curious too. This is what we are experiencing. We’re trying to limit time. We aren’t always able to do that, but it’s so new and we’re finding that some clients also seem to be open to it because it’s new to them.

Suzee Barrabee//Goodby Silverstein & Partners

You’re competing though against a director who is not expecting usage. But when they shoot stills, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t savvy about usage.

When CGI was new, some charged usage and others did not. Usage is tricky.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

Most of our usage requests lately are for unlimited usage but with a limited time cap.

Suzee Barrabee//Goodby Silverstein & Partners

If you’re using the image for something you are selling, like a poster, would you need the copyright? I think you can do this with unlimited use. Unlimited means something different to everyone.

Rebecca Lanthorne/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

I now list everything under ‘All Media.’

Suzee Barrabee//Goodby Silverstein & Partners

I never use a buyout. It means different things to different people and legally it means nothing.

Analisa Payne/Freelance Art Producer

Account people like to use it.

Rebecca Lanthorne/Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners

It could apply to talent. It’s work-for-hire for the director but it’s not like you don’t worry about usage after that because the SAG rules are complicated.

Suzee Barrabee//Goodby Silverstein & Partners

And the internet is very scary because you have to figure out where something goes and it’s worldwide.


Copyright: Requests to Transfer Copyright

How often are you negotiating transfer of copyright requests, more or less than 5 years ago?

Owen Bly/Freelance Art Producer

I don’t do it. Clients don’t really know the difference between this and unlimited usage. As long as they have access and can use it for a particular period of time they are fine.

Jacqueline Fodor/Venables, Bell & Partners 

I make sure to include that the photographer retains copyright and can use images for promotional purposes.

But what if my client, in addition to unlimited usage in perpetuity tries to limit their cost by asking for exclusivity within their category?

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

If a photographer licenses their image for one year of unlimited usage, in theory the photographer could then sell the imagery if the client doesn’t license it. However, in our group, a lot of our photographers are not going to put it up on their site or sell it for stock.

You want to be cool about it. You don’t want to charge a client for something they’re not going to use. And I’m not trying to take money away from a photographer either. But at the same time, there is common courtesy.

But if you took 1,000 images and they’re all unlimited usage and time and ten of them are your selects, it seems like the photographer could take one or two others that don’t look like the ones the client is using and sell them for stock. In those cases, your client needs to protect themself and pay the upcharge.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

When it comes to talent, the exclusivity really escalates things quickly.  You’re precluding their way of making a living and they’re going to charge you for that.

One of our European photographers has an embargo from one of his clients and he can’t show anything on his site or use them in any way until the campaign has run its course.

But I like the thought of the embargo covering this so you don’t have to count on common courtesy.

Owen Bly/Freelance Art Producer

Yes, common courtesy doesn’t really cover the client.

Jacqueline Fodor/Venables

But what about self-promotion? We’ve had only a few clients who have forbid this, but I got this up front.

Any estimate I write has this specified and the line is highlighted if they want to restrict this. But usually this hasn’t been a problem.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

If this is becoming a trend, which I’m seeing it is, it should be a line item with a fee for this restriction, for instance $10,000 to restrict self-promotion rights.

The jobs that we take that don’t have adequate budgets are because we are excited about them and want to use the images for self promotion. So if this is restricted, the photographer has no incentive to participate.

Marissa Serritella/Art Producer BSSP

I haven’t run into the issue of self promotion. I think it’s crazy for them to expect the photographer not to use it that way – as long as it doesn’t happen before the client’s ad runs. Not sure why else they would mind.


Please note, there will be eight posts shared over the month of April.  Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for the latest installments. Link here to read  The  Appetizer Part I,  The Appetizer Part II and The Main Course Part I.    To see our other Community Table posts from LA and NYC, please link here. 


And, as always, thank you  Allison McCreery of POP Blog for your flawless transcription and partnership on this project.


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