Stuff Nation

Stuff Nation

It seems many people want to write about their experiences for the Dominion Post’s  website, called Stuff. The New Zealand Herald also solicits contributions from readers. They each call it “user-generated content”. TVNZ and TV3 are keen too.

Stuff Nation (who on earth dreamed that one up), the user section on Stuff, solicits articles, videos and images from readers and judging by an early response, it’s popular enough. There is always a catch and Stuff nation’s catch seems similar to that of other New Zealand media organisations who solicit contributions from readers: who owns your video or images  when you submit to their terms of reference and load it up?

The New Zealand Herald accepts contributions and assumes complete ownership of it “in perpetuity” to sell to whom it pleases for any reason for whatever it can get for it. Your rights, if you’re the contributor? None. TVNZ assumes world-wide resale rights (although it does leave copyright with you). TV3 (warning – PDF) does a similar deal to TVNZ.

In other words, suppose you are  filming something when, above you, you see a light plane descending in flames, culminating in a loud explosion, a ball of fire and lots of black smoke. Amazingly you keep focus and don’t pan and zoom the damned camera everywhere.  You listen to a radio news bulletin to find that on board, was, say, a visiting American film star or maybe the Secretary of Defence.

Wow! You load it post haste to TVNZ or Stuff Nation and ring your mum to tell her that you have a scoop. So who gets the $US$100,000 cheque thrown eagerly by CNN or NBC for the non-exclusive USA rights? And then who gets the $US50,000 thrust by the BBC or Deutche Welle for non-exclusive European broadcast? What about stills from the video? New York Times, Time and the rest? Sorry bud. If you loaded it to any of the fan sites in New Zealand, you have just kissed goodbye to any fee. And trust me, TVNZ and TV3 have the contacts, the motivation  and the need to sell rights off before you’ve even Googled CBS’ head office in the US.

As you regret being so silly as to give your shots away, consider residuals and replay rights. How do you think the History Chanel, Discovery and National Geographic manage to fill the thousands of hours of docos that they show year-round? They buy replay rights for a snippet here, a summary there and there is a steady stream of money dribbled back to the rights holder. That’s not you, by the way, you gave away your rights when you uploaded to Stuff nation or any of the others.

When I worked at TVNZ we used to pay around $50 for rights to replay video if it showed something newsworthy for which we lacked pictures. Resale in those days (80s and 90s) was something like $US100 per second broadcast. So, for example, if the BBC wanted a 10-second clip of  an event, TVNZ would send them a few minutes worth of the event and let the BBC decide which bits to use and pay per second broadcast. If the clip was interesting and newsworthy, TVNZ might sell it a few dozen times, each at $US100 per second. The $50 we gave the person who handed in the video was for exclusive rights, resale and ownership.  We owned it, they gave up all rights. Unless they signed this waiver we wouldn’t use their pictures.

In those days, sending video within news deadline to a foreign broadcaster was difficult unless TVNZ cooperated . These days, it can be uploaded anywhere within a few minutes.

Oh, and if there is any copyright breach in your material, any defamation, and damages-inducing content, you indemnify them against any civil action or damages. That’s right, they get your scoop free, and if anything goes wrong, you pay. This is fair, I’m not criticising  them, as long as you realise it before handing over your scoop.

Outlet Initial payment? Claim NZ  & foreign rights? Pay royalty on sales? Pay
You indemnify them?
NZ Herald No Yes No No  Yes
Stuff No Yes No No  Yes
TVNZ No Yes No No  Yes
TV3 No Yes No No  Yes

Forgetting for the moment handing your video or image over to a New Zealand media outlet, consider instead loading it to You Tube and sharing in the advertising revenue. You lose resale rights too but at least you can make something out of it. Check YouTube’s terms though, to see what you are giving up by using it.

If you do happen to shoot the big one, the really, really big one, call a lawyer, negotiate New Zealand rights and retain foreign and world rights for yourself. Then hit the phone and call the networks. If, on the other hand you write and take photos about crochet, your gnome collection or mother-in-law, give it to Stuff Nation – they need content and no one’s going to pay you for it.