Contract Terms for Licensing
Okay, y'all, contract terms. You guys are like, "I don't want to do this." I don't either, but nobody does, that's the thing. Nobody wants to write contracts. Well, this girl does. See? She's writing a contract. That's the whole point of this picture that I made. She's writing a contract. Just kidding. Okay, so contract terms for licensing. Who is the licensee and the licensor? Who is licensing it, and who is buying it? Make sure that that's really clear right up front in your contract. What image is it? I can't even tell you how many times I have almost forgotten to say what image I'm licensing in a contract, which sounds really silly, but I'm writing it here because someone out there is bound to do the same thing. I usually put the title of the image, and I attach the image as well to that contract because, if you have simply a title in there, then I just try to think of worst case situations, like, in my wildest dreams, I can't imagine this happening, but if it did, what if somebody...
was like, "You didn't show the image reference, "and there are tons of images with this title"? Or maybe, what if I go and I accidentally name two images with the same title? Which I have definitely done before by accident without realizing it. There are just things that can happen. Always attach the image. What project it is associated with? If you are licensing for, let's just say, an album, make sure that you know what album it is, or at least the artist that it's associated with, and the year that they're going to be using it just so that there's some association so then they can't say, "Well, it just says that "I get to license this image," you know? And then, all of a sudden, it's on every album cover or something like that, which would be not good marketing on their part, but nonetheless. Are there digital limitations? If you're going to give them that digital file, what are the limitations of how they can use that file? File sizes, just that all the expectations are up front. Copyright, make sure that you retain that copyright. I don't ever work in the way that I give my copyright to somebody for any reason whatsoever. I just wouldn't do it. You might do it. You know, that's okay, it's just your choice, and if you're giving away your copyright, you no longer have any claim to that picture. You can't sell it as a print. You can't do anything with it, so just keep that in mind. That's a very extreme way of licensing that I tend to find doesn't happen. Nobody has ever asked me for the copyright of the image. That would be above and beyond. How you like to receive photo credit. How is it that you want to be credited for this image, and where? So if I've got this book, I usually ask, I'm really flexible about this, 'cause I just genuinely don't really care about these things very much, but you might, and I think it's worth caring about. Every once in a while, I'll flip a book open, and I'll find my name inside somewhere. For example, on this one, it says a word that I can't pronounce 'cause this is in Dutch. (speaks in foreign language) That was probably terrible. Then it says, "Copyright Brooke Shaden, brookeshaden.com," and it lists my website. I usually ask that they list my name and website, and I've changed my mind over the years, so my contract has shifted where, sometimes, I say it has to be in the book. Sometimes, I say it has to be on their website. I just don't care, but make sure that, if you do care, you do put it in your contract, how you want to receive photo credit. If these people are allowed to transfer the license. Now, what this means is, maybe you have a publishing company who has a bigger parent company, you want to say if they're able to transfer the license to that bigger company for use in different materials and things like that, and this is often something that you can either just have a standard line in your contract that says the licensee may not transfer the license. Then, if they read that and they're like, "Oh, wait, I want to be able to," they'll probably tell you. It's not something that I bother asking about because it doesn't affect me very much. I can just say, "Don't transfer it," and if they sign that, then good, and if not, then we'll talk about that. If they can alter the image. I bring this up because I've had very unsettling experiences with people changing my images, where my contract just wasn't concrete enough, and they were able to do that 'cause I didn't stop them. The last time that that happened was this book, and I want to first and foremost say that the experience of creating this was not a bad one, and I take responsibility for this cover, which I think is generally a beautiful cover. What happened was, I didn't say that they couldn't edit this image after I sent it to them, and they ended up putting wallpaper in the background of this room, which they ended up doing in such a way that I would not have done. I would not have put my name on this if I had known it would look like this in the end because there is sort of like a halo effect around my subject where the wallpaper, they didn't quite edit it in far enough. That hurts me, so when I look at this, I cringe a little bit just because, from far away, I really like it, but then, when I get close, the artist in me is saying, "But I wouldn't have done that, "and now my name is on this, and I wouldn't have done that." I want to explain to people. That's just a cautionary tale. Make sure that you expressly say how they can alter the image, if at all. Sometimes, artists will maintain the right to put the text on the book, even, to design the book, which, for me, is going too far 'cause I can't design anything to save my life, but I let people know that they can add text to my images, and they can crop my images, and those are the two things that I let people do. If they want to change the colors, they have to have me change the colors. If they want to add something to it, I need to do that, and I maintain that because, if I don't, then this kind of thing happens, where everyone had the best intentions, and it just wasn't how I would've done it, but my name is on it. You know, no one's gonna open this book, and it's not gonna say, "Copyright Brooke Shaden, "except for the wallpaper." It's not gonna say that, so I have to be really clear about that. Oh, yeah, go ahead.
If they come back and say, "We would like you to alter this," how much do you charge for that?
That's a great question, how much do you charge? Two answers to that. One is that I will not charge anything, generally, if it's a simple edit. This is where my terms go a little bit wonky because I'm not very good at this part of the whole deal. If I were really on top of things, I would already have this written into my contract, of you get two edits to this picture, and outside of that, it'll be this much money. Because so few people have asked me to change anything in my images, I just don't think about it very often anymore. However, I would charge something if I were you. If I were starting fresh and making this contract, in fact, I'll probably go home and change it for myself, now that you say that, I would say a reasonable amount might be, you know, $100 per change to the image. The issue starts out where maybe that price is really low to somebody, and then they ask for another change, and another change, and another change, and it goes on forever, and then all of a sudden, your price is too low, and you're like, "This is way too much work." It also depends on how much work it is. If, for example, these people had come back to me and said, "Can you change the color of her shirt?" I would've said, "Yeah, that's a simple fix. "I can do that really fast." If they had come back to me and said, "Actually, I want this scene to be in a palace," I'd be like, "Uh oh, that's a really big change, "which is going to require a higher price." That's where it becomes a little bit tricky to add that into the contract. I think that there are ways of doing it. There's one way of just saying no, the picture is how it is, take it or leave it. Another option is putting two different price ranges in where you say, if you want things from color, lighting changes, for example, to be made, that'll be this price for additional changes, or if you want a really big edit, like a compositing change, that'll be this price. I'm just kind of thinking out loud 'cause I haven't done this yet, but that's what I would do. It's an interesting question 'cause we're about to talk about it with commissions, actually, 'cause I do do it for commissions. I'll let you know more in a second, yeah. Exclusivity, which is what we've been talking about, make sure that's in your contract. That's, like, why you have the contract, is for exclusivity, rights to be maintained within your exclusivity. How they're going to pay you. These are normal contract terms. How you're gonna be paid, when you're going to be paid, when you deliver the image versus when you get paid. I'm still waiting for a payment from four years ago that I'm sure is never going to come because I didn't have that written into my contract at the time. Artist delivery, how are you going to deliver the image, and I think it's important that you, as the artist, are upfront about that. Are you going to send it on a CD? Do people still do that stuff anymore? Probably not 'cause computers don't even have CD players anymore, do they? Generally, you'll upload it to a website, maybe your own server, maybe to Dropbox, WeTransfer, whatever it is, send it on over. Just make sure that you explain how you're gonna deliver the image. And damages, so you have this contract, they break the contract, what do you get because they've broken the contract? What do they get because you've broken the contract? Just make sure that you lay out what the damages are going to be. These are just a few examples of book covers that I've done, album art as well, and these were all images, as you can see, the original image there used in exactly the same format on the book cover, and not a lot of changes, in fact, no changes to this one. They decided to maintain the original image, and then just put a solid color below, which is great for me because nothing has to happen, and this is an option for book covers. Like we talked about earlier, we talked about images that might not be good for a book cover, and I would've probably said that this image is not good for a book cover because I'm taking up most of the frame, from top to bottom, so where are they gonna put the text? So it makes sense that they did this because, where would they have put the text? Right over my face? You know, that would be kind of funny, if it said, "Boom!" over my face, I don't know, but weird. Things to consider are that, even if an image seems unmarketable, it might actually work really well for their design concept. This is another image that I totally laughed at because I did not realize until maybe one week ago that I wasn't on that book cover. I thought that I was on that book cover the whole time, and this was, like, years ago that this book cover came out. I was just laughing. I was like, "Oh, the bird made it, that's good." (laughs) But hey, who knows? I licensed this image. I had no idea it would look like that, and that's fine with me, I don't mind that I've been cut out of their lives. Here we have another one, and this was an example of a much earlier one where they added smoke to the image that wasn't there before. I did not anticipate that. I am okay with it, but that should've been in my contract, and was not when I created this book cover with them. Just things to keep in mind, original versus how it ends up looking. Sometimes, it can surprise you.