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BurdenJohn

How do I make a contract for my graphic artists?

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I've got a bit of an issue.

 

Two graphic artists who I have hired to be payed for their work require contracts for our agreement.

Both my graphic artists (who are working on separate projects from each other), and I, have agreed to our terms.

 

I now need a contract for our terms, however, I've never written a contract before and I don't know how or where to find one

that fits the needs of our agreements.

 

To start off, I'm a Canadian. I haven't asked my artists where they are from yet, but I'm not sure if this matters to the contract(s).

 

For my first artist, I require a contract that contains the following terms:

- The artist is to be paid XX amount in dollars after all required work is finished (after all graphic art assets are done)

- The artist will receive a 35% profit share from all profits made from the game

- If the artist is to cease communication with the programmer (myself), all of the money that was promised will not be

issued, due to the fact that not all work was done and the graphic artist has failed to communicate with the programmer

- I gain full copyright to the art assets that are made, allowing the artist to freely post them on a portfolio for hiring needs

 

For my second artist, I require a contract that contains the following terms:

- The artist is to be paid XX amount in dollars after all required work is finished (after all graphic art assets are done)

- The artist will not receive a profit share
- If the artist is to cease communication with the programmer (myself), all of the money that was promised will not be

issued, due to the fact that not all work was done and the graphic artist has failed to communicate with the programmer

- I gain full copyright to the art assets that are made, allowing the artist to freely post them on a portfolio for hiring needs

 

I have had multiple artists stop communication with me during projects, forcing me to quit projects that I was hoping to be finished. So now that I'm offering money and that I will soon have contracts, I'm hoping that this will stop.

 

I have no legal background, so I am stumped on where I can find contracts that will suit these needs.

Is it possible to have a contract like this?

 

If it is, please direct me to where I can find some kind of a contract template that I can officially and legally use for these artists,

in which both myself and they are required to sign and scan digitally.

Edited by BurdenJohn

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This is a pretty good resource to keep in your bookmarks: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/04/03/legal-guide-contract-samples-for-designers/

 

That said, it's always good to get a lawyer to look over a contract when you're done tweaking it.

 

Cheers!

 

Edit: On second note, be careful about giving a profit share as a reward, especially for something as high as 35%. If you are making a mobile game, then you are already paying 30% to the app store/ google play, so then to divide that even more is iffy for yourself. Even if they are a godsend of art and stuff, I would suggest paying a bit right off the bat (40-50%), and then the rest over the duration of the project (the remaining 60 - 50%).

 

If they want to be a part of the team, instead of a freelancer, then you'll still need the contract, but again 35% is too high with the profit share. If you want, send me a message and I can help you out with figuring out stuff.

Edited by Tenebrae

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This is a pretty good resource to keep in your bookmarks: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2013/04/03/legal-guide-contract-samples-for-designers/

 

That said, it's always good to get a lawyer to look over a contract when you're done tweaking it.

 

Cheers!

 

Edit: On second note, be careful about giving a profit share as a reward, especially for something as high as 35%. If you are making a mobile game, then you are already paying 30% to the app store/ google play, so then to divide that even more is iffy for yourself. Even if they are a godsend of art and stuff, I would suggest paying a bit right off the bat (40-50%), and then the rest over the duration of the project (the remaining 60 - 50%).

 

If they want to be a part of the team, instead of a freelancer, then you'll still need the contract, but again 35% is too high with the profit share. If you want, send me a message and I can help you out with figuring out stuff.

Mmm I could only find one that was close to what I wanted:
https://www.docracy.com/5843/commissioned-illustration-offer-short-easy

 

However it doesn't cover the fact that:
- The price of the agreement is to be paid in full after the job is done, this states before

- It doesn't talk about profit-share

 

As for the list of game attorneys, are there any free ones out there?

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Is it at all possible to just write out the terms of the contract, as I've done on this topic, and just put a place for two signatures between the two participants?

Or would that not be a legal contract?

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Or would that not be a legal contract?


It absolutely would. But would it be a well-written contract - that's the question.

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A contract is just an agreement. A few spoken words can be a binding contract. An open ended "wanted" or "reward" poster is a binding contract. An email exchange with an acceptance to do a job is a binding contract.

There are many rights that you do not automatically acquire, they require very specific statements in a written contract. That is why you use a lawyer. If you incorrectly leave out one of those specific rights, you might not legally have permission to use the content.

Also, yes, it is very important if the people are located internationally. Laws vary by region, and they vary the most by country. One of your contributors might live in a country that requires different written permissions than yours. Your lawyer will need to know about that in advance, when you are discussing what the details involve. For example, in some places your contract might need the artist to explicitly disclaim certain moral rights for attribution and derivation since it is not a work for hire contract. They might need to explicitly disclaim or assign things known as "related rights", and in some countries the rights cannot be disclaimed or transferred. Your lawyer needs to know where the people live so they can draft up a proper contract.


Even if you don't intend to enforce your rights, even if you know that if the person vanishes or steals everything you won't do anything about it, you will still need a proper contract IN CASE YOUR GAME SUCCEEDS. If your game becomes the next angry birds, or flappy birds, or mario, and suddenly everybody wants to be your publisher and help you make sequels, you will need a proper contract so your future successful business partners can be comfortable knowing that you actually own the rights, and that you won't be unintentionally binding them to 35% of billions of dollars for all future versions to some unknown artist who happened to create a bit of artwork for the first version.

That kind of thing has happened before, quite a few times. People who worked on projects early-on might show up years later with a contract that says they are owed a fortune in profits. Right now EA is fighting one of them; Robin Antonick worked on the original version of Madden and had a contract similar to what you described, promising a portion of the money as royalties. EA claims the code was removed and what exists now is not legally a derivative work, so they say they don't owe the royalties. The guy learned that his code was still in use from former employees at the company, and copies of the code obtained as part of the lawsuit seem to prove it. At stake is about $11M directly in royalties, plus potentially much more in additional damages, interest, and possibly the legal fees. A good lawyer will help you not accidentally bind yourself to 35% of money forever.

Think of a business lawyer as you would think of insurance. When things go well the contract is filed in a drawer and never looked at. You invest in it under the hope that you will never need to rely on it. But if you do need to rely on it, just in case some things go bad, you want it to provide rock-solid protection. Edited by frob

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get a lawyer

 

That's the only way to be sure you're doing the right thing. 

You may want to move faster and with a slim budget, but think again: they specifically WANT that contract. You have to be the devil's advocate and assume the worst. Be sure the contract you sign is what you want it to mean (and be sure to ask the lawyer exactly what can happen).

 

Besides, you should have a lawyer anyway.

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- The artist will receive a 35% profit share from all profits made from the game
Don't do this. Make some limit (like for X years, or if a game earned at least $10/month in that month). Imagine you having to go and make the payment and all the fiscal bureaucratic taxes things like 10 years from now because your game earned $1,50 a month...

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