File Under: Understanding Your Legal Rights
This article is part of a series on Work For Hire agreements: What Every Musician Needs To Know About Work For Hire.
As we discussed two weeks ago in What Every Musician Needs To Know About Work For Hire, when you hire photographers, designers, graphic artists, video makers, guest musicians, or anyone else that does creative work for you you’ll want to have them sign a work for hire agreement so you own the copyright. After all, if you don’t and the photographer owns the photos afterwards every use you make of it might require another license from them. If you use the photos for merchandise, an album cover, or a music video you'll need to go back to them to license it for each purpose if you didn’t negotiate this upfront in the first place. It gets even worse if you hire a graphic artist to create a logo and you don't even own your own logo!
Creative professionals you deal with often understand work for hire provisions and often ask for an extra fee if you impose one on them (which is of course negotiable). Because of this, when you hire professionals, keep the following in mind:
1. Specify their work is a work made for hire at the outset.
You need to clearly state upfront, ahead of the negotiation, that what they’ll be creating is a work for hire. You do not want to bring this up after the photos are taken, or the designer has made a perfect logo for you. This will give them negotiating leverage. Do this at the start and avoid headaches later. If you use websites like eLance, you should specify that it's a work for hire in the job description. While some professionals will ask for extra money to agree to a work for hire contract, everything’s negotiable. Bringing it up ahead of time will allow you to set a good fee that you're both comfortable with.
2. Use a work for hire contract.
We provided an example of work for hire language in the article What Every Musician Needs To Know About Work For Hire which you and your attorney can modify and incorporate into an agreement with whoever you are hiring. The key thing is to make sure you have something in writing -- whether it’s in a formal agreement or via email -- and keep it on file in case there's a dispute in the future.
3. Specify that you get all of the source files.
With a photographer, you should get the RAW files from their camera. When it comes to graphic arts, make sure that you specify that you get the original vectors and the Photoshop or TIFF file that has all of the layers that allows you to modify it yourself or take it to another artist. If it's another musician, get the stems and all of the DAW files.
4. Include an optional clause that gives them attribution if they ask for it.
Attribution isn't always offered and depends on the type of work. For example, a photographer might want credit, but graphic artists may not care.
Remember that copyright ownership still applies even if you have a friend of yours take pictures for free. Doing it for free doesn’t matter. You’ll still want to apply a work for hire for any work done for you -- whether it’s friends, fans, or team members. That said, sometimes a simple email with work for hire language which they agree to in the thread can be enough to protect you.
If you do this right, you'll own all the work professionals and amateurs alike create for you with one payment. You’ll then be able to use what they give you in all of your future uses, whether that be for PR, marketing, or future albums.
- What Every Musician Needs To Know About Work For Hire
- How To Make Merchandise for Free
- Three Things Every Musician Should Do When Working With A Photographer
- The Indie Band Survival Guide (Remixed & Remastered: Second Edition)
- Making Money With Music (15-hour Online Course)
#yourrights #copyright #workforhire #law
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass