When working with intellectual properties, hiring freelancers and getting paid as a freelancer, you must use contracts on all substantial jobs.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination. Any advice or documents you find here (or anywhere on the site) should only be used as a starting point for your own research and due diligence. Hire a real lawyer before you sign anything or exchange money.
That said, I’m gonna post some of the documents I use from project to project, explain how I run my own stuff and my philosophy on contracts. You may find it works just fine for you or you may decide you require something significantly more robust and a lawyer on retainer (don’t say I didn’t warn you).
Most people have big misconceptions when it comes to contracts, especially folks in comics.
Contracts are merely capturing a negotiation and agreement in writing.
The basis of any negotiation is for each side to get what it wants. Primarily when dealing with comics, that’s gonna be:
The publisher wants to spend the least amount of money, for the most and best quality work. The freelancer wants to receive the most amount of money, for the least amount of work (work equating to time).
- First and foremost contracts are about putting in writing what people are required to do and what they’re gonna get paid for doing it.
- Deadlines/milestones both, for when the work is due and when the money is due, are also key components to a contract.
- Last of the major contract considerations are rights of the work. Rights to work equal value, which potentially equals more money to whoever holds them at some point down the line. (But to call a spade a spade, most times on indie IPs, rights to work adds up to a whole lot of bupkis.)
Of course there are tons of other considerations, contracts can get insanely complex, but those are the main ones you’re most likely to be concerned with.
The Truth About Contracts
Contracts are not magical documents that bind their signees like a bottle binds a genie. Anyone can sign a contract then fuck all, do whatever they please (believe me it happens all the time).