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"Selling out" (IP assignments in exchange for credit: is it a job?)

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Greetings. Just as a quick background check: I'm an indie developer over at Trillæm Productions, and I'm trying to learn the ins and outs of the publishing/marketing aspect of indie development. I don't have a ton of experience, but I do have a pretty good idea of what I'm doing, and I've been very fortunate with a team that shares my dedication and passion for the project, as well as being very talented in several fields. I've looked around at some of the other posts here, and found a handful of very helpful posts related to self-publishing vs external publishing. However, there is one major concern that I have with external publishing, and I'd like to hear some more experienced takes on it. You see, the game I'm working on is just the first in what I'd like to develop into a franchise. And, just like any other developer, I'm very attached to my creation, and would never want to lose full and exclusive rights to do absolutely whatever I want with the franchise. If this were just a one-time deal, I wouldn't be so worried about it. But it's not. This is a beginning of a franchise that is not only very important to me as my creation, but very important to me because it's something I'd like to continue working with, and would ultimately like to build a career around. I don't want to be told what to do by a publisher, and I don't want to give 65% of our profits away for some big-wig to do all the shipping and handling. I do enjoy some of the more "paperworky" aspects of project management, including public relations, marketing, and advertising. I, personally, see external publishing as the "easy way out", and also a very easy way to lose a lot of profits to a middleman. Finally, and what I'm most unsure about: I don't know what kind of ownership the publisher retains over the franchise when I publish through them. Do they obtain ownership, as well as a percent of the profits? Is it a case-by-case deal? If so, what publishers will let me retain full and exclusive rights to my work? All I know is that I don't want to sell this franchise out to anyone. I want to maintain complete ownership of it as a team, and, ultimately, as that team's leader- even if it means having to publish it myself. [Edited by - TheArtifex on December 19, 2004 1:31:35 PM]

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Hi, I can only go on our company's experience with mobile games, so I'm not too sure if this would be relevant for you.

We go through a publisher who gives us 40% of NET revenue and we keep the IP. The current game we're developing has the same conditions...even although it may be branded once it's finished, it's still gonna be our IP.

The publisher had some input to our first game (changing collision detection and a couple of other wee things) and a 'wish-list', although the 'wish-list' is just that, if we didn't want to or did not have the time to do any of the 'wishes' then we didn't need to, as long as we got everything else right for them.

Perhaps you should pm Obscure and ask his opinion - the more info to hand, the better!. Good luck!

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I have found that most deals are around a single title, and that the developer generally keeps all their IP. Of course, there are always exceptions, they key is to shop around, checkout all your options. If you don't like a deal, don't take it.

The other side of that coin, however, and something we have run into with some people who wanted us to sell for them, was IP association. Not only did they want to maintain all their IP for future releases, they didn't want consumer association of the current IP to anyone BUT them. This would have forced us to brand out sales site for the product to look as if it was the developers, with no cross market to our other products. Was a bit too much to ask, since with this small volume market, single titles that don't generate cross pollination to other products don't really make much for the publisher/distributor.

Anyway, good luck!

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I agree with the previous posters on intellectual property, but they havent touched advertising and marketing.

Should you decide to advertise, market and sell this - at a profitable rate - you're going to need a lot of capital to reach enough people. There is a reason why publishers take 65% of the profit, partly because they can, but mainly because the advertising costs outweigh the development costs.

Advertising is expensive and the large cut takes account of this. For example an local magazine, with a reader base of about 200,000 and age demographic of about 25-35 charges $15,000 AUD for one full page ad, in one month of their magazine (its only printed once a month). $15,000 for a start-up company is a lot of money, and thats probably the cheapest advertisement you'll come across. From $15,000 and a potential 200,000 readers we rise to upwards of $50,000 to reach a possible million for just a simple web based campaign.

Not only is advertising expensive it also requires some expertise just like software development. Maybe for this first game you let someone else handle the publishing and your next title, you can do it yourself. A good publisher will have years of experience with marketing, sales and distribution. Which means a good advertising campaign is only half the package, the next half of the package is their relationships with distributors. Developers usually don't know any one in a position to get their game out there through retail outlets. Publishers on the other hand have established links, know the right people to talk to, and also have some level of credibility behind them.

Of course you could approach the retailers themselves with your finished (when i say finished i mean finished, no glitches, no bugs, no unfinished artwork) product in an attempt to sell it to them. Make sure its well polished and gives them an enjoyable experience. Don't make a mistake i once did, don't take an unfinished product to a person used to saying NO. Any sign of an error or bug and thats exactly what you will get. However, i hope if you do take this route, which i encourage you to do so after much thought and consideration, remember you'll have to pay to package and mass-produce the software. A minor corner stone in the sale of your product.

So, step back assess your situation; remember your strengths and weaknesses, software and marketing respectively. Its probably a good idea to get someone else to do the marketing for your first product, and if you plan (and it sounds like you do) to handle some of the marketing yourself do this for the next one. Just pay close attention to whats done in selling your product and if it worked or didn't. On the other hand, you're going to need a lot of capital if you plan to market the game by yourself. Checkout http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/index.html to help get you started. A business plan will be your first step to success. As an example business plan i found http://www.bplan.com/spv/3250/index.cfm?affiliate=sba usefull.

Good luck, its always good to see fellow entreprenuers!

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If I told you that one of our coders, a self-made millionaire, was willing to fund our startup costs up to $60,000 (and has noted that he would be willing to fund even more if the startup was at all successful), and that several members of our team (including myself) have received awards in a university setting for graphic arts (and, specifically, for advertisement-type graphics), how would that affect your stance on self-marketing?

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A self advertiseing investment of $60+k, along with great artistic imagery is a waisted effort if you reach the wrong consumer base....there is more to it then just reaching the largest number of people...you have to get your advertisements in front of the people whom are most likely to be interested in your game....yeah you could reach a lot of people with a full page ad in EGM...but, while EGM subscribers are definetely interested in games, are they the type whom would be particularly interested in your game?



Besides $60k, while a lot of money, isn't enough for even rather small scale national grass roots (word of mouth) type advertisment campagins.

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You haven't provided any information on what type of game it is, how you intend to fund the project to completion (beyond the start-up phase) or how you intend to bring the product to market. All these issues make a massive difference to what you should do and what you will be able to achieve with $60,000.

What format is the game going to be on?
Will it be shareware/download or retail?
How do you intend to fund the venture through to completion?
What games are you expecting it to compete with, shareware quality game or AAA full price retail block-busters?

Quote:
I don't want to be told what to do by a publisher, and I don't want to give 65% of our profits away for some big-wig to do all the shipping and handling.

Publishers do an awful lot more than just shipping and handling.

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Original post by Obscure
You haven't provided any information on what type of game it is, how you intend to fund the project to completion (beyond the start-up phase) or how you intend to bring the product to market. All these issues make a massive difference to what you should do and what you will be able to achieve with $60,000.

What format is the game going to be on?
Will it be shareware/download or retail?
How do you intend to fund the venture through to completion?
What games are you expecting it to compete with, shareware quality game or AAA full price retail block-busters?

Quote:
I don't want to be told what to do by a publisher, and I don't want to give 65% of our profits away for some big-wig to do all the shipping and handling.

Publishers do an awful lot more than just shipping and handling.


First up, a sincere apology for the underrecognition of the value of publishers. I perhaps am bashing them too much for something they don't deserved to be bashed for. I'll try to maintain an unbiased opinion.

Secondly, please keep in mind that I want to pose my situation in the light of legal/business advice, as opposed to other forms of advice that might be more suited to the Help Wanted board. ^^

Anyway, the game is a 3d fantasy MMORPG. The game would be expected to compete primarily with other popular indie MMO titles along the lines of Eternal Lands, although we would be very interested in expanding beyond the indie market into the commercial realm, where we'd be facing games such as International Ragnarok Online. Software licenses are being covered by our resident millionaire, along with personal investments by myself and other team members. He will also be providing us with free servers until we reach a point of self-sufficiency. All team members work on a royalties contract, so salaries are not an issue until we "publish".

The game is built using SDL, which is crossplatform for Mac, Windows, and Linux. It will be free to download and play up to level 10 (/100), and playing costs for the full game are probably going to be ~$9/mo.

Any other questions that will help as you give advice? Thus far, I've received a lot of very useful tips, but you can't ever have enough advice.

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Original post by TheArtifex
... until we reach a point of self-sufficiency.....

From a business point of view this is the single biggest issue. When will you actually start making money.

Development starts
Lets assume that the whole team are able to support themselves for the two years it takes to make the game, and that your resident money man buys the software, supplies servers and also pays for development hardware
- cash flow is minus (and stays so throughout development)

Development reaches beta
In addition to the above you now need staff to manage the beta testing stage of the game, the customer support system, the billing system and the game roll out.

These individuals will be on top of the existing development team and it will be very unlikely that they will also work for free - still, lets assume they do.

You also need to start marketing the product. The more you spend on marketing the more customers you attract and the sooner you get to self-sufficiency- the less you spend the less you attract and the longer it will take to grow the game to the point of self-sufficiency.

- cash flow is now even more minus due to the larger outgoings

Game launch
The game is given away free - zero income
The development staff are still required to maintain/improve the game
The customer support staff are also needed
the operating costs (servers etc.) still have to be paid
- Cash flow is still minus and the more users you get the more the support costs and server costs increase. You also need to continue marketing to grow the game.

Game launch+X
The first users reach level 10. Some of them opt to start paying while some will drop out
- Cash flow is still minus because there are not enough paying users to cover the costs of running the server.

Game launch+Y
The game is growing in popularity and attracting more customers. The problem is that due to the growth curve more new (non-paying) customers are joining than exiting customers are reaching the stage where they start to pay.
In addition you need to keep existing customers happy so the developers are still working, creating new content.
- The cash flow is even further into the minus than for Game launch+X. How long this continues depends on how fast the user base grows, how long it takes existing users to reach the paying stages and what % of users decide to pay vs quit.

Game launch+Z
The income from paying customers finally grows large enough to cover the running costs of the game and support all the non-paying customers. Only at this point will your royalty only staff start to receive any money.

Conclusions
i. Break-even and game launch are not the same thing - it could be months or even years after launch before the paying user base grows to a sufficient level for anyone to earn anything - the dev staff and company will have to survive not just throughout development but well beyond that point.
ii. Staff may work for free but you will still need to pay for marketing. The growth of the game will depend to some extend on how much you spend. That money needs to be spent prior to and after game launch - that is a debt the company will carry and which needs to be paid off before staff start earning royalties.
iii. If your marketing budget is too low or your game not very good your user base will grow slowly. Your debts will grow faster than income and the company go bust.
iv. The reverse is also true - if your user base grows too quickly the number of free users (each of whom is costing you money) will far outstrip the number of paying users and the company will go bankrupt - you need to ensure that you have fixed limits on user numbers to stop this happening.

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Mkay. So if I still want to make it happen, we're gonna have to pay extremely close attention to the signup rate for new users. If it becomes too popular, limit signups. If it isn't popular enough, lower the level to say, 5, to get people who aren't willing to pay out of our system. And it's up to our team to make sure the game is good enough to play, and to make sure we're marketing to the right people.

Also, I should make sure that all of my team members are prepared to work for free until we break even- rather than until we release the game. No worries, here- especially since almost everyone on our team is much more interested in getting the project done than about making money. Many of them have other forms of income, and have said that they would gladly continue working for free if we needed them to.

And- just to qualify- these guys aren't chumps, either: we've got award-winning modelers, 8th year movie soundtrack composers, game programming gurus, network systems experts... just trying to prove that this can be done, it can be done right, it can be done well, and it can be done independently. A very important question to ask is "for love or money?" For almost all of us, it's love.

Finally, I should be looking for either a) a way to pay for beta testing management or b) beta testing management that's willing to work for free until we break even- like everyone else on the team is doing. This will be a very difficult task- as every form of recruiting for free labor is- but one that I do not think we can't overcome.

Is this a correct summarization of your advice, Obscure? Anything else?

Oh, and:

Quote:
Original post by MSW
A self advertiseing investment of $60+k, along with great artistic imagery is a waisted effort if you reach the wrong consumer base....there is more to it then just reaching the largest number of people...you have to get your advertisements in front of the people whom are most likely to be interested in your game....yeah you could reach a lot of people with a full page ad in EGM...but, while EGM subscribers are definetely interested in games, are they the type whom would be particularly interested in your game?

Excellent point. It's gonna not only be a challenge to produce the advertisements, but to be able to correctly assess our target audience, so that we're not throwing money at a group of people who wouldn't even consider playing a non-mainstream game.

Quote:
Original post by MSW
Besides $60k, while a lot of money, isn't enough for even rather small scale national grass roots (word of mouth) type advertisment campagins.

Wholeheartedly agreed and understood.

Any other tips for self-publishing teams?

::EDIT::

I have failed to thank you all for your advice up to this point. My direct and to-the-point responses probably sound much more like challenges than questions, as I have done a poor job of showing my sincere gratitude for your advice. ^^

Thank you very much.

[Edited by - TheArtifex on December 16, 2004 11:41:55 PM]

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One area of "advertisement" that we've all over looked until now is the press. When your game starts to reach a bug free playable stage start mass sending demos out to all the press you can. Make sure the demo's you send out are quite complete and also be sure to keep a good relationship with the press. Good press will give you good sales.

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I agree, the press can be good for 'advertsing' your company and shiny new product. Our experience has shown that the press have tended to come to us; we've been in about 6 newspapers already and had a 2 minute slot on the national news last september.

Lots of networking is also a must...you just never know who you're gonna meet that knows someone who could help your enterprise!.

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Quote:
Original post by TheArtifex
Is this a correct summarization of your advice, Obscure?


Yes you got it.

Quote:
Anything else?


Yes, intellectual property rights. You must ensure that everyone working on the project either assigns their rights or agrees in writting on what terms they allow you to use their IP. You have to do it now while the IP is worthless because once the game is made they can cause all sorts of problems when it turns out that their recollection of the deal is dramatically different from yours.

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Yup. We realized the necessity of this a couple of months back, and started writing up contracts. Unfortunately, those got lost in the shuffle of one of our bigger growth spurts, and definitely need to be looked into once more.

Alright, thank you so much for the advice, all!

Ah yes. And I'm glad you mentioned press. Personally, being the ego-ridden sinner that I am, I can't wait for a little bit of exposure with the press. I mean, for a team that is so young and diverse, we've overcome a lot of serious challenges. To be able to say that a project where over 70% of the team members were underaged is competing up against AAA games like iRO is a big deal- as long as we can reach that goal.

Mkay... thank you for the legal tips on what to do when we get to our goal. Now it's time to get there. ^^

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Original post by TheArtifex
Yup. We realized the necessity of this a couple of months back, and started writing up contracts. Unfortunately, those got lost in the shuffle of one of our bigger growth spurts, and definitely need to be looked into once more.


Business is like jumping out of an aircraft. It is just possible that you might free-fall forever enjoying the experience but in all likelihood, at some point, you will hit the ground. How fast you hit the ground depends on if you have a parachute or not.

You just jumped out of the aircraft without actually packing your parachute and the longer you fall, the faster you go and the harder it will get to cram all that 'chute into the pack and get it onto your back and get the straps done up befo... SPLAT!

A contract is your 'chute. It wont stop you hitting trouble but it will allow you to slow the impact and survive it.

Put simply, with no contract or assignment of rights, you don't own any of the work done to date. The longer that goes on the more chance of a teamster realising the value of their work and deciding not to sign it over. - Yes, I know "they wouldn't do that". Until they do. In addition if you haven't actually agreed the exact terms/percentages that they will get you can bet that what you think is reasonable and what they think is reasonable will move further and further apart the more the project progresses.

Just about the only good think I can say about your current situation is that at least your not working with kids...

Quote:
To be able to say that a project where over 70% of the team members were underaged is competing up against AAA games like iRO is a big deal- as long as we can reach that goal.


Doh! Obviously it depends on exactly how "under aged" they are and where they are but in general minors can't execute legal agreements and in many places can't work more than a very few hours a week. I can see the headlines now "Evil computer game mogul uses child slave labour to make his millions!"

The trouble is that first projects seldom make much money at all and when people find out how little their share really is they start looking for someone to blame (and or sue). Sort out your contracts now - you don't know how high that aircraft was when you jumped - the ground could be a lot closer than you expect.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
By the sounds of things I think you need to get yourself a non-executive Chairman, and fast. You need a mentor on-hand for frequent and detailed advice. Using a forum like this is way below sufficient if you're as far advanced as you sound.

I can't offer that, but if you email me on ceo @ grexengine.com I can give you some (not inconsiderable) help. I used to run a £50,000 business-plan competition, and have founded 3 companies. I've seen a lot of businesses start from the 3-page exec summary and go all the way to multi-million-dollar success (only a couple of cases) or bankrupt / wound-up / dormant (approx 20 last time I counted). Most of these I had close access to, not as a salaried employee but as an objective external adviser.

The truth is I'm too busy to properly mentor anyone right now, and I'm probably on completely the wrong continent. But I'm happy to provide a stream of email advice and suggestions (I often do this for people put in contact with me).

Same offer is open to anyone else around here. Although bear in mind I have a highly refined BullSh*t-Detector, and not much free time. Anyone cold contacting me with *nothing* to show (e.g. "I've had an idea which I thoguth about for 5 minutes. Can you help?") will simply get added to the spam filter as "delete automatically" (anyone in that situation should find PLENTY of advice in old posts on the GD.net forums - it's probably the most commonly asked question?). Don't feel put off by that, but you DO need to have done a considerable amount of hard work before I can even come close to helping you; until that point you're wasting your time and mine.

If you've already put in a lot of effort to what you're doing, I don't mind being emailed, even if I can't help at all. If I'm too busy I'll just ignore you :).

One final note: You would be surprised how few people take up the offer of free advice. I'm on several alumni lists and mentoring lists and yet I get almost no approaches that way (most come from a friend or ex-colleague directing someone at me).

redmilamber

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Quote:
Original post by Obscure
Sort out your contracts now - you don't know how high that aircraft was when you jumped - the ground could be a lot closer than you expect.


Mkay, I took your advice, as well as the guidance given in the articles written by Tom Buscaglia, and we're writing up all of our "parachutes"- NDAs, IP assignments, royalty agreements, and the likes. While I really don't anticipate hitting the ground, I do want to be prepared.

As for the underage issue- only a handful of us will still be under 18 as of next year. But waiting for those people who aren't yet 18 yet is very dangerous indeed, and for those who still won't be 18 yet, I should find a solution as soon as possible.

What has been done in the past with similar situations? Surely there have been successful projects created by young teams, right?

Alright... so I'll hope somebody has some advice on the topic of making legal contracts with underage employees. Surely there has to be at least some sort of workaround. I mean, I got my first part-time job when I was 13, and I had to sign a contract for that.

However, I'll play the worst-case scenario card, and here's my hypothetical response:

I would have to press on with these underage members under absolutely no legally binding contract, simply hoping that nothing goes wrong, and doing everything I possibly can to ensure that they understand my intent to repay them, and make sure they trust me. If I ever hit the ground with one of them, I'm gonna hit hard, and it's gonna hurt. A lot.

The fact that I would be signing contracts with everyone else who was able to would at least be a bit reassuring to them, I should hope, but this would still require an immense deal of trust between me and each of my underaged cohorts. I should really start looking into putting [even more] effort into building some sort of personal relationship with each member, making sure they understood my motivations and had some sort of basis for believing me. In a big sense, it'll be a practice in people skills.

Or, perhaps, we could try something a bit more manipulative. Have the contract actually be between myself and these underage "employees'" parents, of sorts. Any thoughts on how this could be carried out?



If there's anything that I'm learning from this, it's that trust isn't highly valued in fields of law. This is perfectly understandable, don't get me wrong. You guys have had countless years of combined experience watching "friends" turncoat on one another, and someone getting hurt in the end. I'm sure it happens a lot, and I'm sure it could happen to me. If there is even a small chance that something could tear apart my future career, I am not dumb enough to leave myself unguarded.

It's simply a very, very different view from what I'm used to, and definitely a difficult transition, at first. And at all costs, even when I do load up the parachute, I still can't help but be naive enough to think that the ground is much farther than you might suspect. However, I will take your advice. We'll see. If I'm lucky, I'll never have to pull it.

::EDIT::

Wait a second... can't minors sign contracts with parental consent? That would certainly solve a lot of problems.

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Quote:
Original post by TheArtifex
Alright... so I'll hope somebody has some advice on the topic of making legal contracts with underage employees. Surely there has to be at least some sort of workaround. I mean, I got my first part-time job when I was 13, and I had to sign a contract for that.

...

Wait a second... can't minors sign contracts with parental consent? That would certainly solve a lot of problems.

I started working as a programmer when I was 16 (18 now, still working there), and I think I just signed a contract by myself.

Speaking of that contract, it has a fairly stiff non-compete, so that may have been stupid in hindsight, considering I have to move away to go to college :(

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Ah, okay. I've been looking over some of the laws, and I think I see at least one way that this would be possible. The underage employees would be required to have:

a) parental consent in the form of a signature
b) a work permit issued by their school

With those two things in mind, I am capable of working them for a varying amount of hours depending on age. So, this brings up a handful of new questions.

For one, I must confirm that I can legally say something along the lines of "our team operates by the laws of Indiana, USA." I am quite sure that this is permissible within the USA, and I am fairly certain this is possible even in an international setting. However, I do want to be absolutely sure before I continue writing the contracts with laws pulled from Indiana state code in mind, and you guys probably know much better.

Also, how exactly would one qualify a "work hour" spent on the project? But wait... no. This isn't an hourly project. Okay, wait a second now. If we are perfectly careful to never use the word "hourly" or "hour" in the contracts... aren't we freed up from a whole lot of these bothersome underage employment laws? It would be far less of a hassle if all that was required was parental consent.

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Original post by TheArtifex
For one, I must confirm that I can legally say something along the lines of "our team operates by the laws of Indiana, USA." I am quite sure that this is permissible within the USA, and I am fairly certain this is possible even in an international setting. However, I do want to be absolutely sure .....

Then you should be talking to an Indiana State employment lawyer and not posting in a forum ;)

Quote:
Also, how exactly would one qualify a "work hour" spent on the project? But wait... no. This isn't an hourly project. Okay, wait a second now. If we are perfectly careful to never use the word "hourly" or "hour" in the contracts... aren't we freed up from a whole lot of these bothersome underage employment laws?


Luckily you're not freed up from bothersome laws just by pretending that your not breaking them. As far as the law is concerned an hour spent working on your project is an hour, regardless of what may be produced at that time or how you may catagorise that hour. The law doesn't care if you hire someone to write 1000 lines of code because regardless of that it will take actual time to do that job and if actual time = greater than legal allowance then they have to stop work. How the law would actually monitor them is another matter but it would most likely be down to the parents.

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Competent Parties - For a contract to be valid, each side must have the capacity to enter into it. Most people and companies have sufficient legal competency. A drugged or mentally-impaired person has impaired capacity and chances are a court may not hold that person to the contract. Minors (e.g., usually those under eighteen) cannot, generally, enter into a binding contract without parental consent, unless it is for the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, or for student loan contracts.


-http://law.freeadvice.com/general_practice/contract_law/binding_contract.htm

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers classify jobs as either exempt or non-exempt. Non-exempt employees are covered by FLSA rules and regulations, and exempt employees are not.

Quote:
Exempt positions are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations, and other rights and protections afforded non-exempt workers. Employers must pay a salary rather than an hourly wage for a position for it to be exempt.

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Exempt employees are generally expected to devote the number of hours necessary to complete their respective tasks, regardless of whether that requires 35 hours per week or 55 hours per week. Their compensation doesn't change based on actual hours expended. Exempt employees aren't paid extra for putting in more than 40 hours per week; they're paid for getting the job done.


-http://content.salary.monster.com/articles/exempt/

Hrm. Perhaps you're right- this isn't the proper place to be seeking legal advice.

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The first one I understand. We know kids can't sign contracts and that even if their parents give consent there are limits on how long they can work. I am not sure what the others have to do with topic though.

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Original post by Obscure
...even if their parents give consent there are limits on how long they can work...


Unless they're employed into an exempt position, as detailed above.

Quote:
Exempt positions are excluded from minimum wage, overtime regulations, and other rights and protections afforded non-exempt workers. Employers must pay a salary rather than an hourly wage for a position for it to be exempt.

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I'm under 18. Causes so many trouble for me it isnt funny.
Anyway, on everything i sign it has both my name/signature and my fathers (usually). This is legally binding.

If you've got a lawyer they should have pointed this out though.

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Original post by TheArtifex
Quote:
Original post by Obscure
...even if their parents give consent there are limits on how long they can work...


Unless they're employed into an exempt position, as detailed above.


Ahhh I had a hunch that was what you were getting at. Think about it for a moment.
A child is limited to working a maximum of 15 hours a week (as an example),
This law is to prevent/protect them from working a job of between 15 - 40 hour per week,
Yet it is somehow going to allow them to do a job of 40 - 80 hours a week?

It doesn't work that way. Those exemptions relate only to people who are actually allowed to work a 40 hour week in the first place. Children aren't exempt from being under age. Child protection laws will always take presence.

Even if the above were not the case (which it is) the extract you posted clearly states that such a position would have to pay a salary (which would need to be at least 40 h/w @ min wage). You aren't paying your staff a salary so you can't designate any positions (adults or minors) as exempt.

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