This is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer. This reflects my personal choices as an artist.
Yesterday, a musician/singer friend I made on Vimeo told me he would like to use some of my work in his videos. I told him I am at an age when collaboration causes me stress and makes me unhappy, but that as an actor, I’d work free for a friend and if he sent me a story idea, we could talk about that. If that happens, the finished project would be his project and as an actor, I donated my work and all I would claim is a credit and a line on my résumé.
That’s what I tell him or anyone else, but that’s not the whole story. It’s the only story I can tell because I am not a lawyer.
I am 65 years old. Longevity is not rampant in my family and I will likely die before I’m 90. In the past ten years, I have created a huge body of video art/movies – about 600, or 60 per year. Most of those were made while I also had a dayjob, was actively exhibiting as a sculptor and was working as a theater artist. Now that I am a full time video artist, I will probably make about 100 videos per year – in 20 years, that would be 2,000. Huge portfolio, lots of intellectual property.
If my portfolio has value when I die, I don’t want my family to have to worry about anybody else’s rights to it; or anybody else to have to worry about my family’s rights to their portfolio.
Like I said, I am not a lawyer. I am just methodical, compartmentalized, mathematical and pragmatic.