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LavontaeLewis

Make Sure A Contract Is Signed

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I had to learn this the hard way, any composing work you do make sure a contract is signed no matter how much it is or how many tracks are needed . Even if it's just 3 tracks or for $50.


Any money I made from composing was using a contract, if no contract is presented most guys will just waste your time. Contract shows your serious.

nsmadsen said this before but I didn't take heed. Maybe someone should post a template contract for those who need it.

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Oi, I've been told to do this countless times, and yet I hold this idea in my mind that everyone is honest, open, and trustworthy. Did you make your own contract (@Majestic), or did you take from a template as well?

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Oi, I've been told to do this countless times, and yet I hold this idea in my mind that everyone is honest, open, and trustworthy.


Even with two trustworthy individuals, misunderstandings can occur. The contract's purpose is to reduce the chances of misunderstandings occurring.

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Even with two trustworthy individuals, misunderstandings can occur.[/quote]

Yep. At the bare minimum, after your "back and forths", write up an email summarizing exactly what it is you think you are agreeing to. Make it a completely new email (not part of a reply chain), so that there is no chance of ambiguity that some comment made a few emails back is/isn't part of the agreement.
Often what happens is someone remembers some issue from 10 emails back and presumes it's still in the other parties' head, too; meanwhile the other party assumes it isn't.

Brian Schmidt
GameSoundCon
GameSoundCon 2012. Oct 24/25 San Francisco, CA

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Oi, I've been told to do this countless times, and yet I hold this idea in my mind that everyone is honest, open, and trustworthy. Did you make your own contract (@Majestic), or did you take from a template as well?


I thought the same thing.

I just took from a template contract, doesn't have to be a complicated one drowned in legalese. I think the most important aspect of a contract is the seriousness and professionalism. If a client signs a contract 9 times out of 10 they will pay you.

Using a contract helps cut out the "time-wasters"

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Oi, I've been told to do this countless times, and yet I hold this idea in my mind that everyone is honest, open, and trustworthy.

Its not necessarily about trust. A contract defines a lot more than just a trust. Misunderstandings can occur. "He said, she said" types of issues crop up ALL the time. A contract does more than just say "You will pay me." It specifies what they are paying for, what your deliverables are, what their deliverables are. It also assigns ownership, who owns the content that was produced? Are you assigning full control to the other signer, do you maintain ownership but are assigning them a license to the work, etc. All of this helps to ensure that misunderstandings, not trust issues (although it covers trust issues) are minimized or eliminated.

There ARE some generic online contracts or similar that you can adapt to your needs. But if you're going to be doing consulting/contract work for a while then it pays (always) to go to a lawyer and have them draw up an appropriate set of documents for you. They will typically know all of the questions to ask you in order to ensure the contract is bullet proof for both parties. Something that a generic contract found on the web typically isn't. Edited by Washu

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There ARE some generic online contracts or similar that you can adapt to your needs. But if you're going to be doing consulting/contract work for a while then it pays (always) to go to a lawyer and have them draw up an appropriate set of documents for you. They will typically know all of the questions to ask you in order to ensure the contract is bullet proof for both parties. Something that a generic contract found on the web typically isn't.

Which reminds me, is it even legal to use contracts that weren't made by lawyers? I mean, being legal binding and such, I'd think it's something that should only be handed to the relevant professionals.

On a related note, what would artists say if there was a clause allowing for the client to ask more assets without need to filling out a full new contract? Assuming such a clause makes it explicitly clear under which conditions this would be, including the amount of extra payment, the amount of time that must be allowed to do the job, etc. (and assuming those conditions are designed to match the ones from the original assets)

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[quote name='Washu' timestamp='1339377533' post='4948037']There ARE some generic online contracts or similar that you can adapt to your needs. But if you're going to be doing consulting/contract work for a while then it pays (always) to go to a lawyer and have them draw up an appropriate set of documents for you. They will typically know all of the questions to ask you in order to ensure the contract is bullet proof for both parties. Something that a generic contract found on the web typically isn't.

Which reminds me, is it even legal to use contracts that weren't made by lawyers? I mean, being legal binding and such, I'd think it's something that should only be handed to the relevant professionals.[/quote]
Of course it's legal. There's nothing special about a lawyer, or the documents he produces, which magically makes them legally binding or not. HOWEVER, just as with software development, legal documents have a language and grammar associated with them which is significantly more specific and precise than the every day language you use, typically called legalese. The difference between a contract written up by a lawyer and a contract written up by you or someone else will be in the phrasing, word usage, and even grammar. This can drastically change how the document is interpreted and thus how binding it is.

Your average "off the internet" contact is not a very good document over all, its necessarily so though: A generic contract cannot deal with the specifics of the situations you will encounter in most contracts. By having a lawyer produce a base contract for your company, and more specific ones as needed, you not only get a document that is written using the language and grammar of the law, but you additionally get the expertise of the contract lawyer. Said lawyer will know the appropriate questions to ask in order to assist you in producing a contract that represents the needs of you, and your customers. Furthermore, its important to understand that state and country laws are not uniform. Thus if you are working with a client in California and you're in Maine, the laws between the two are different and what may be legally binding in one may not be in the other. It is important to ensure that both parties understand which legal system is being used to apply the contract, and even where legal disputes will be resolved (arbitration, etc). These are the kinds of details most generic "internet" contracts do not include.

As always, IANAL, and nothing I say constitutes legal advise. However, you can usually speak to most contract lawyers about these issues for free (at least once), and find out how much it would cost for them to draw up a contract (usually not a whole lot, maybe a few hundred dollars).


On a related note, what would artists say if there was a clause allowing for the client to ask more assets without need to filling out a full new contract? Assuming such a clause makes it explicitly clear under which conditions this would be, including the amount of extra payment, the amount of time that must be allowed to do the job, etc. (and assuming those conditions are designed to match the ones from the original assets) [/quote]
This is not uncommon in a lot of different types of contracts, including software development. As long as the document clearly spells out how the work would be paid for, ownership, and requirements of any "additional" items, its usually perfectly fine. However, the artist should ensure they have the ability to deny the request without voiding their contract. Even then, you should still consult a lawyer about the contract as well, because a lawyer can explain to you, in plain English, what the contract is actually demanding of you. Remember, legalese is not like British or American English, its a very specific language and because of that many words have DIFFERENT meanings than your everyday usage of them. Thus a few words interpreted differently can vastly change what a document actually says. Edited by Washu

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Which reminds me, is it even legal to use contracts that weren't made by lawyers? I mean, being legal binding and such, I'd think it's something that should only be handed to the relevant professionals.

On a related note, what would artists say if there was a clause allowing for the client to ask more assets without need to filling out a full new contract? Assuming such a clause makes it explicitly clear under which conditions this would be, including the amount of extra payment, the amount of time that must be allowed to do the job, etc. (and assuming those conditions are designed to match the ones from the original assets)

A contract is simply a mutual agreement.

If a homeowner agrees asks a neighbor kid to mow his lawn that becomes a binding verbal contract. Courts rule on verbal contracts all the time and routinely find that they are binding.

An email chain where both parties agree to something can also be considered a binding written contract.

As Washu points out in his rather long reply, when a lawyer writes a contract they use specific language with specific meaning. When a non-lawyer has an email chain discussing what must be done, what must not be done, how payment is to be made, etc., then plain language is used and the judge must interpret it.

The written agreement in plain language is still binding.

Attempting to write your agreement in 'legalese' is a very risky thing to do; you are using language with a specific meaning that might not mean what you think it means. Accidentally omitting or over-specifying details can void your agreement. That is generally not the case with a plain language agreement. Edited by frob

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