Freelancers' Questions: Do I need a contract to sell my prints?

Freelancer’s Question: A large reputable company wants to publish my work as greetings cards and prints. They have chosen a selection of images and now want me to send them as ‘hi res’ files so they can create mock up cards to see what looks best. They will then edit down their choices and see what works.

I assume I need to send them a contract, as no contract has emerged from them, so that they agree not to use my images in any other way. Is this recommended or does it risk souring relations? If it is recommended, is there a good contract template I can use for this, or should I phrase the clause I need myself? If so, what wording should I use to stop re-use beyond greeting cards and prints?

Expert’s Answer: You will certainly need to provide them with a contract if they have not been forthcoming with one. I wouldn't be concerned about souring relationships. As a 'large reputable company,' it is surprising that they have not provided one and if you come up with one then it shows that you are professional and are serious about the work.

You basically need a copyright licence agreement. This can be as long or as short as you want, typically for your situation we are looking at four or five pages, regardless there are a number of important clauses:

- The scope of the work i.e. which works or images of yours they are permitted to use;

- What they can use the work for i.e. specifically for greetings cards and prints;

- Exclusivity i.e. whether you can sell the same to other people, I would expect the company would require exclusivity over the work they are licensing;

- Territory - usually the world, but you could restrict them to the UK or EU;

- Payment / royalties - how you get your money and how much you get.

The above is just an idea of the types of clauses that you need. You may be able to find a template agreement on the internet, but to be safe you should contact a solicitor to get the agreement drafted. I would imagine you would be looking at somewhere in the region of £400 - £800 depending on the complexity of the arrangement you have with the company and of course the solicitor’s hourly rate.

 The expert was Ben Evans, of the internet and e-commerce team at Lawdit Solicitors.



21st February 2010

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