Collaboration Agreements



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  • Collaboration Agreements

    Topic of my guest blog today from entertainment attorney Jesse Rosenblatt.

    First Things First: Why You Should Always Enter Into A Collaboration Agreement

    By Jesse Rosenblatt, Esq.

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone in a legal mess because they didn't enter into a collaboration agreement before starting their project. This information isn't new, but it's so often overlooked that I feel it's worth covering again. Hopefully the information below will resonate with you so that moving forward you can avoid often costly mistakes. The most important thing to be taken away from this article is the following:

    When collaborating with someone on a project (e.g., a script, book, song, etc.), always have an experienced entertainment lawyer craft a written collaboration agreement which all parties sign before any work on the collaboration begins!
    Just taking this simple suggestion can save you a ton of potential headaches throughout your career. Don't delay.

    What Is A Collaboration Agreement?

    Briefly, a collaboration agreement is a contract entered into that spells out the specific terms and conditions of the parties' working relationship, including, the disposition of the completed work, allocation of responsibilities and division of revenues derived from the exploitation of the work. Simply stated, the collaboration agreement clarifies the nature and scope of the relationship, including the ownership, business and creative controls over the work that's jointly created. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement for creative collaborators, because just like marriages, unfortunately many collaborations end in separation, if not outright divorce.

    The provisions of a collaboration agreement typically cover things like:

    - Ownership Percentages In The Work (e.g., Is It 50%/50% Or Some Other Allocation?)

    - Specific Responsibilities Of Each Collaborator

    - How Are Monies Received In Connection With The Work Disseminated? (e.g., In What Percentages?, How Are The Collaborators' Expenses Dealt With?, etc.)

    - What Happens If One Collaborator Withdraws For Any Reason? (e.g., Can The Other One Continue Working To Finish The Project?, May The Remaining Writer Bring On Another Collaborator?, How Are The Ownership Percentages Revised As A Result?, etc.)

    - How Will The Collaborators Be Credited In Connection With The Work?

    - Are The Collaborators Members Of Any Applicable Guild/Union? - What Happens If The Parties Have A Disagreement? (e.g., How Are Disputes Resolved?, Will There Be A Third Party Who Resolves Them?, If So, Who Is He/She Or How Will He/She Be Selected?, etc.)

    - How May Rights In The Project Be Disposed Of? (e.g., Does This Require A Unanimous Decision?, May Either Party Dispose Of Their Own Rights Or Even All Rights?, If A Collaborator Wants To Dispose Of His/Her Interest, Does The Other Collaborator Have The Right To Block The Sale (Or A Right Of First / Last Refusal)?, Is Any Third Party Authorized To Dispose Of Rights On The Collaborators' Behalf?, etc.)

    Without a signed collaboration agreement in place, questions may be raised about the ownership and control of the work, as well as the ability to dispose of any rights in the work. It is also vital in determining what happens in the event that the collaborators separate for any reason.

    To read the rest:
    "I talked to a couple of yes men at Metro. To me they said no."

  • #2
    Re: Collaboration Agreements

    Glad this article was popular. Will likely be addressing some more legal issues that arise for screenwriters in the future. Trying to get Jesse to write up something on works in public domain -- since 28 of the top 30 films this decade were based on pre-existing content.
    "I talked to a couple of yes men at Metro. To me they said no."