Contracts – You Want WHAT?

I was recently approached by a publisher of several software/tutorial magazines about doing a 6-page technical illustration primer. The pay was laughable, but the contract was downright insulting:

3.2 Anything that you […] produce or invent for [us] as part of, or in connection with, the Contract shall be [our] property absolutely and you shall assign or procure the assignment of all Intellectual Property in such things (whether existing now or arising in the future) free from all encumbrances to [us]. You also agree to obtain all releases that are necessary to enable [us] to exploit the Work as it sees fit. If you provide any of your own pre-existing Intellectual Property as part of the Contract you hereby grant [us] and, if relevant, Clients to whom the relevant Work has been provided, an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty free licence to use such Intellectual Property in relation to Work similar or equivalent to the Work.

Worse, still:

3.3 Where you are the author of the Work, you waive absolutely your right to be identified as the author of the Work […] and your right to object to derogatory treatment of it (granted by section 80 of that Act) and, so far as is legally possible, any broadly equivalent rights you may have anywhere in the world. Where you are not the author of the Work you undertake to obtain equivalent waivers from the authors.

…and in case they missed anything:

7.6 This contract may be reviewed and/or amended at any time by [us].

[Emphasis is mine]

Even if I was ready to work for next to nothing, even if I was willing to hand over all rights to whatever I created, even if I convinced myself that the exposure from a project like this was worth the work involved, they wanted me to waive my right to be identified as the author of the work. Oh and they could modify the contract at any time.

Illustrators — Read your contracts. Understand them. If they have bogus clauses, ask for changes or reject them outright.

What bogus clauses have you gotten on contracts? Let us know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Contracts – You Want WHAT?

  1. clint ford says

    what’s the problem? sounds like a good deal!
    wow, the nerve of people. It’s bad enough to be asked to do things for little to no pay. crazy.

  2. bwal (Brent) says

    I know this is bad…but 95% of all the work that I’ve done in the past has been without a contract. I’ve been lucky not to have a problem so far. I tried to give a contract (modified from GAG handbook) to an ad agency that I worked a lot with, but they seemed to not take it too seriously. Do the rest of you illustrators use contracts every time? Do they come from you or the from the client? I’m very interested in this topic and have a lot of questions. — Brent

  3. The GAG contract should suit you pretty well. You don’t need the client to take it seriously, you just need a signature to enforce it if you need to.

    I have a list of terms and conditions on the bottom of my estimates and invoices. If there’s no formal contract in place, that at least sets some expectations. It’s not the most enforceable way of doing things, but if those conditions don’t suit the client, it usually prompts them to get a contract written up.

  4. aline says

    Hi :)
    The topic is very interesting to me.
    Especially because I’m a beginner and I do most freelancing stuff. I want to learn. My area is 2D drawing children s book illustration.
    I had a contract for the first time 3 year ago and I was so pleased that someone has given me a contract that I read it and it didn’t care if I didn’t get all the meanings :).
    As the months went by I started to notice weird parts, like the one that says I donate my copyright and then the employer will seek copyright registration in his own country.
    From there on I became very suspicious about this client, thow I continued to do work for him to get paid ( because at least he continued to pay me on time ).
    One other problem I have, how can I tell a contract is legall, I mean do they have info about the law firm that drafted it or something, because I never found something like that on that contract either.

    I never found people in my own field with lots of experience either that I can approach with questions like this.
    Any hint will help.
    Thanks :)

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