Contracts and Copyright Tips

Gavel1_featuredThe goal of today’s post is to provide you with some information on writing contracts and copyright law, as a freelancer. I recently read a great book by Michelle Goodman entitled “My So-called Freelance Life”. Much of the information I am providing here is contained in Chapter 12 of her book, but I thought it would be nice to write up a short list of tips and provide some resources about contracts and copyright law. Michelle warns that without having a crystal clear contract, you could find yourself in a “time-sucking, money-losing situation”. So, what are some tips you can follow when working with contracts as a freelancer?

  1. Specify in the contract how many revisions you will allow for, and what constitutes a revision
  2. Specify who owns the copyrights to the work you’re creating
  3. Specify how you will be credited for your work, if applicable
  4. Never blindly sign a contract a client sends you without reading it from start to finish
  5. If you get to provide your own contract, then you can write one that is 100% fair to you
  6. Keep in mind that nothing replaces the counsel of a good attorney who routinely works with artists, writers, performers, and other freelancers
  7. Don’t forget that if you write a creative piece for a client who has “all rights” to your story, song, or video – then they can tweak your work without consulting you, and can resell your work anywhere they want without paying you

Now, let’s take a look at some website resources that are mentioned in the book, and a few others:

Website Resources:

www.creativecommons.com

  • This site “works to counter what the organization considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture.”
  • Defines copyright as: “in general, copyright law allows an author to prohibit others from reproducing, adapting or distributing copies of the author’s work”
  • This may be true, but of course, many starving artists do depend on those copyrights to allow them to earn a livable wage
  • However, the idea that there is a place to go where you can freely use and reproduce other people’s work is a good one. And so, if someone wants to allow their work to be used and adapted for free with their permission, then I see this as a good thing.

Visit this website to find out more about the copyleft movement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/copyleft The U.S. Copyright Office: http://www.copyright.gov The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO):http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/Home A short overview of Canadian copyright law written by a Canadian lawyer: http://users.trytel.com/~pbkerr/copyright.html www.nolo.com

  • A “goldmine” of free legal advice
  • An American site, but probably a lot of it would hold true in other countries as well

www.keepyourcopyrights.org

  • an American site that encourages people to hold onto their copyrights, and “take a more active role in managing the life of their creative work”.

www.starvingartistslaw.com

  • Self help legal information for artists and writers
  • Includes information on Music Law and Writers Law

*picture credit to: http://www.canyon-news.com/artman2/uploads/2/gavel.gif

Find me on Twitter: jacbird

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