Contract advice required

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ppkproject, Apr 30, 2004.

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  1. ppkproject

    ppkproject Guest

    Hi all, I value your opinions and would appreciate any input you have on the following.....

    I have recently completed work on a promotional cd for Wella (Hair products). They wanted a cd of unsigned music to give away with their new range of 'funky' hair products. The only prerequistite was that all of the music was unsigned (so they wouldn't have to pay publishing, I guess, cheapskates!). I have written all of the tracks on the cd specifically for this promotion. I need some advice on drawing up a contract which retains all of my rights and gives them permission to use the music for this promotion only. Are there any key phrases which I need to incorporate or a generic contract I can download from somewhere? I'm not getting paid for this so don't have the funds to pay a muso solicitor to draft me one from scratch. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I'm in the dark here and can't afford to giveaway the rights to the music I have laboured over for the last month!

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    See for a work for hire contract. Would also suggest seeing a legal person for about 15 minutes or less to let him or her read over the contract and give you some suggestions. Should not cost you all that much. If you are getting paid for the CD then the money would be WELL SPENT!

  3. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    Home Page:
    I went to the link, and the "work for hire" implies that you are GIVING UP THE COPYRIGHT WHICH THIS PERSON DOES NOT WANT TO DO. He can retain the copyright of the work and still let them use it by licensing it to them for a specific purpose.

    Having spent many thousands of dollars with an excellent copyright attorney (for a non-music publishing dispute) I learned a few things...

    There is no such thing as "implied consent" when it comes to copyright. The creator of any work owns the copyright unless he assigns it to someone else in writing (your work-for hire contract).


    In the USA, remedies for recovering damages if someone steals your works are very minimal and hard to obtain UNLESS your work has been been legally copyrighted with the governing body of your nation (Library of Congress). Basically, they are limited to whatever monetary gain the party derived from using your work, which you have to prove in court (high attorney's fees just to bring the suit with no guarantee).

    However, if a party uses your LEGALLY copyrighted work there are penalties that can be obtained against the infringer which can be pretty substantial, and the you don't have to prove they made monetary gain. A far better case in the long run.

    So, bottom line. They cannot own the copyright unless you give it to them in writing (work-for-hire contract), but if they use it for commercial purposes you didn't authorize you may have a hard time recovering damages unless you do the actual copyright registration.
  4. Lagerfeldt

    Lagerfeldt Guest

    The work-for-hire clause isn't legal in some European countries, I'm not sure how it works in the UK though.

    In Denmark for instance, if you're member of KODA/NCB (which basically everyone is) even though you've signed a work-for-hire contract it won't hold up in court. You basically can't give away your copyrights like that as a rule of thumb.

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