Agreements & Contracts

As an electronic medium, video is distinct from traditional art forms such as painting or sculpture in that it is infinitely and easily reproducible. Typically collectors of video works must enter into specific agreements or licenses that outline the terms, conditions and rights extended for the acquisition. Such agreements vary widely depending on the source of the artwork, whether the work is a limited or unlimited edition, and the rights offered.

If an uneditioned video work is acquired from a distributor, the collector is typically asked to sign a "license agreement" that will outline the rights being offered. The terms of these license agreements will vary based on conditions such as the format being acquired, the intended usage, the context of the acquisition (for example, a public library, an educational institution, a museum, a private collection), and the specific rights granted.

Typically, when one acquires a work on an archival format such as Digital Betacam or Beta SP, one may also be offered extended rights to create in-house reference and exhibition copies on lower-grade formats. However, when one purchases a DVD for an educational institution, one only acquires the rights to show the work in-house in a classroom setting. Standard license agreements may include in-house public performance rights, while items such as touring, loaning, broadcasting, Webcasting, or other forms of dissemination or reproduction are prohibited.

A gallery selling a limited edition video work will issue a "certificate of authenticity." The certificate, signed by the artist and gallerist, confirms the number of the edition and outlines the rights being extended to the collector. This document is necessary when considering the resale of media works in the secondary market.

It is advisable to fully discuss these rights before purchasing works from a distributor or a gallery to avoid confusion on the subject after the acquisition has been completed.

The following are sample agreements and contracts from EAI that address several different acquisition contexts, from educational institutions to archival acquisitions.

Standard License Agreement [EAI]

This standard template outlines the general rights and restrictions that accompany the acquisition of a non-editioned single-channel video work. This agreement extends rights for in-house usage, and prohibits any duplication, reproduction, commercial use, loans, sales, broadcasts, Webcasts, or alterations.

Educational License Agreement [EAI]

This contract is tailored specifically for the educational use of a single-channel video. Typically, this is a low-grade copy of a video work, which has been purchased for the exclusive use by an educational institution. It allows the work to be screened to classroom or lecture hall-sized audiences, and includes the same restrictions as the Standard License Agreement.

Digital Beta License Agreement [EAI]

With the purchase of a Digital Beta videocassette, many of the same restrictions exist as for the Standard or Educational license agreement. However, what distinguishes this type of contract from the other agreements, is that the owner also has the right to migrate the work to lower-grade video formats (Beta SP, U-matic, VHS or DVD) at their own discretion for in-house exhibition or educational purposes.

Beta SP License Agreement [EAI]

Similar to the Digital Beta License Agreement, this contract allows the owner to migrate the work to lower-grade video formats (such as VHS and DVD) for in-house exhibition or educational purposes only.

Deed of Gift [Guggenheim Museum]

The following deed is used by the Guggenheim Museum in connection with variable media works. Various passages are selected based on type of media, nature of rights needed, and technology migration preferences of the artist. The document addresses issues specific to computer-based arts including certificates of authenticity, archival masters, preservation copies, installation plans and variable media guidelines.