Looking at the matter objectively, I don't think the production company is trying to make things difficult for you in this case. Being a business owner myself, I understand that audit requirements are very real issues for any "pte ltd" company. Clear documentation for any payment made by the company is absolutely necessary, and especially so if the amount is significant.
Getting an official declaration from you, witnessed by a Comissioner of Oath (CoO), is one way to have a written document in place so the production company could disburse the agreed payment to you. The process can be as simple as follows:
1) type out a written declaration, making clear reference to your work concerned.
2) bring the written declaration with your NRIC and maybe a CD of your work which the declaration referenced to the CoO.
3) sign the declaration in front of the CoO and the CoO will stamp and sign on the same declaration in witness.
4) make payment ($20?).
And there you have the document required for the production company to process your payment.
Should you think there are other ways of showing written proof of ownership of your work, you may wish to discuss with the company and settle the matter amicably. In any case, going the legal route should be the last last last resort, if ever you think necessary.. hurts your wallet, wastes your time and achieves little if not nothing (speaking from experience)..
My 2 cents..
Please pardon me if I'm wrong.
For audit purposes, I strongly doubt you need a CoO declaration to support that what you are invoicing for is legit. What matters more is that you have an official receipt from the vendor - mainly to have in writing the amount the company is recording in its P&L. If the auditors have any questions about the amounts, they will likely ask questions about who the vendor is and so on.
If they suspect the amounts are grossly inflated, like the company paid $5000 for two plates of bak chor mee during the year, they will raise more questions just to understand the transaction better. Such as who the bak chor mee seller was and why there was such a large amount paid. I'm not sure they would go to the extent of interviewing the bak chor mee seller to justify the $5000 charge cause if the company chose to pay a non-related bak chor mee stall a princely amount for bak chor mee, that's the company's own choice. Likewise the bak chor mee stall's own auditors would not question why they are charging $50000 for two plates of bak chor mee supplied to only one company.
If the company were to take a loan from a bank at an interest rate of 5% above SIBOR. I doubt the auditors would go to the bank and ask them to justify why they were charging the company such an interest rate. What likely matters more is that the interest payments were indeed made to the bank (based on transactions) and they are supported by a proper loan agreement between the company and the bank.
I seriously doubt for the purposes of an audit you are required to keep on file a CoO declaration to support an particular expense made out to a vendor who provided a video. Proper invoice from vendor, yes. CoO declaration, extremely unlikely. In the case of an invoice issued by a third party service provider, I believe the burden of proof may not be as high. I would be very surprised to know if an auditor has actually asked its client to produce proof that its photograph/video service provider owned the rights to the photos and videos provided to the client. That's not what an audit is about.
An audit is supposed to ensure the financial statements are true and fair. Whether the numbers reported within the financial statements present a true and fair view of the company's financial situation. It is highly doubtful an audit scope would be to ensure that copyright owners truly own the copyright to products sold to the company. That's best left for someone else to do.
In this case, it sounds more like the CoO declaration is to satisfy the production house before they make the payment, nothing more.
They are not wrong to demand that if that is indeed the agreed upon terms of business under which mardellion would provide a service to the production house. For example, I can demand to see a doctor's qualifications before I allow him to operate on me. If he is unable to produce something satisfactory, I can choose to not to let him operate. However if I let him operate on me and subsequently asks for his qualifications, and where he is unable to produce it, refuse to pay him, that is a little tough to sell.
Last edited by richiemccaw1; 27th June 2015 at 08:00 AM.
Written declaration by owner of works, made before the CoO who acts as a formal witness. Not the CoO's declaration..
The request for CoO for documentation is BS la. All they need to keep is a proper invoice from you.
What you should do is to send them a bill/invoice, and estimate the cost of using your work and include the target audience size etc.. remember it is used a TV show, so pretty much the audience hit is very great. After that send demand for payment. No need to play their stupid run around game. Bill Mediacorp direct. They will push to production house, but you can ignore and just say, you saw the use by mediacorp. So your bill goes direct to the end user. They will have to claim their damages from the production house themselves. Do your normal job of sending payment reminder, final reminder, then lawyer demand (with late fees, and admin fees, lawyer letter fees). Then intent to sue. They will move, trust me.
All correspondence in black and white.
And I sure hope you have registered a business in your own name. If you do not have a registered business entity, it will be very hard to get all these done.
Last edited by daredevil123; 27th June 2015 at 09:12 AM.
Thats what I was referring to actually. I really cant fathom auditors requiring the owner's declaration.
An audit wants to make sure the numbers in the financial statements are complete and accurate so as to provide a true and fair view of the company's financial position. If a vendors invoice shows $200 and the company reports it as an expense of $200 and retains this in its records, I dont see why auditors need to verify the vendor owns the copyright to it.
The vendor should need to provide proof to its own auditors if it wishes to record the video as intellectual property right as part of its fixed assets. Vendor doesnt need to prove anything to the customer for the customer's audit purposes.
Moreover an audit is not designed or meant to detect fraud contrary to common perception. There's no element of fraud here in any case as it seems.
And CoO will not advice you. They are just just to bear witness, certify true copy, etc... not as expensive or complex as you think.
TS, you should get it done ASAP. then no more email back and forth. prepare copies of these things, send an invoice in. have a stronger stance.
Last edited by daredevil123; 27th June 2015 at 09:16 AM.
Bro mardellion- I dont know what they used from your portfolio but Ive seen some of your photos and they are quite good.
Dont let them jerk you around. From what you've posted its clear they are doing so, arguing on small technicalities and throwing in strawman argument. They just dont want to pay you in spite of what they have represented. That much is clear to most pple.
It's fine either way: to uphold your principles or choose to cut your costs.
If you want to uphold your principles, then you have to go big or go home. The production house doesnt care about you judging from how they have treated you.
If you dont want to waste the effort or time to claim back what's yours this time round, you probably owe it to yourself to make sure you take more precautions to reduce likelihood of someone pulling this again.
I accept its also about costs vs benefits so you have to determine for yourself how much you want to see things through.
If it only costs $20 to get a declaration of ownership witnessed by CoO, then it's worth a shot at the lowest expense to you for the possibility of an early resolution. At least you would have complied with the production house's request, in the interest of an amicable settlement. If the production house still doesn't pay up after you show them the CoO-witnessed self-declaration, then they are being unreasonable and your case is strengthened. You can still go the legal route after that if necessary.
It may not be immediately clear to the production company that the works they used belong to TS, so it is not wrong for the company to seek written declaration from TS, in case someone else other than TS also claims ownership of the same works and asks for payment. Probably just protecting company interests.
At least for now, the company is not denying responsibility over the matter and refusing to pay TS, but just waiting for the declaration document.
I see good chance that the matter be settled amicably and soon if both parties continue to be reasonable and level-headed.. good luck TS Mardellion..
Thank you all so much. Sorry I was away for the weekend. Just an update, I emailed them last week telling them I'll show the RAW files and my workflow as proof of originality. They just replied me this:
'The original RAW files doesn't show proof of originality or that this footage belongs to you. Kindly proceed in acquiring a legal document stating the proof of originality of the files that you have used in the video. Once the document is ready, please send us an original scanned copy, your company details, scanned images of your IC front and back for payment purposes.
Thank you and we look forward to working with you in the future.'
Thank you DD for the advises. I'm not a registered business btw, just a freelancer... Mediacorp already knows about this issue, but not doing anything cos it's the production house's problem.
I called up Commissioner of Oaths and they advised me against declaring, and should just shoot straight to a lawyer.
Hahahahahaha... uess what? Now they are saying 'legal documents', not Commissioner of Oaths anymore. Apparently Commissioner of Oaths is not legal to them anymore all of a sudden.
*called the director. He asked me to send email in to him. Told him he was in the loop all along and he didn't even bother stepping in. He hanged my call when I was asking smth (i choose to believe he pressed it accidentally.
Get the declaration done too. In the declaration, also include the date/time when the work is shot. Shot with which camera (brand model and serial number). Attach printed screenshots of the RAW file, and the exif info (exif info shows camera serial number), also warranty card of your camera and photo of the serial number on your cam.
Attach copies of all these together with the invoice/bill and send them. Give them a time to pay up by (say 5 days), if not you will pursue legal action. Also, time to apply pressure. List the production house here. and show them the link.
Last edited by daredevil123; 29th June 2015 at 03:47 PM.
The games have begun. LOL it is up to you whether you want to continue being led on.
First this oath document, then legal documents, what next? It is purely designed to make you go on a wild goose chase bro. They know the ball is in their court when you called them and said you were willing to show them your RAWs - because if you wanted to bring action against them, you would already have.
I'm guessing they done this to other people and so have been emboldened through previous experience that if you play with them for a while, they would go away. Best of all, they save money and get a good laugh out of it.
If you lawyer up, they would too. Then it is a war of attrition to see who gives up first. That's why maybe you shouldnt discount guerilla warfare. There's a reason why the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq lasted so long - the Americans expected the enemy to fight them on terms that they are used to, with planes and tanks, but the enemy refused, choosing to fight it out on the streets where such technology and firepower is severely negated.
Mai tu liao.. either dont pursue (and save your own time/effort) or take it to the next step as the others have suggested.
Last edited by richiemccaw1; 29th June 2015 at 04:07 PM.
If you take legal action, win or loss, at least you know you had taken responsibility for your life and all fellow creatives, artists, content creators, both pro and amatuer will support you spiritually. Actually with crowd funding so popular nowadays, its not hard to imagine people will also donate your legal cost even, a dollar here and there, it adds up.
Last edited by sjackal; 29th June 2015 at 04:43 PM.
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