Samples of Clauses Found in Contracts

Samples of Clauses Found in Contracts

In this section, we look at the parts of contracts that deal with copyrights. We have contracts that address the works of writers, photographers, video producers, and contributors to contests and user-generated content sites. We are continually adding more examples, and hope to cover a greater range of creators. If you’d like to send us some examples you have encountered, please contact us.

We have taken the contracts’ language verbatim, tried to explain it in plain English, and rated each clause on its friendliness towards creators. In most cases we have removed the names of the parties to the contracts, but where the contract was freely available on the Internet, the name of the publisher/distributor who proferred the form contract continues to appear.

green thumbs up

Clauses whose language is most generous to authors are labeled creator-friendly and are indicated with a green “thumbs up!”

yellow open hand

If the terms aren’t the best we’ve seen but not the worst either (our could-be-worse category), we’ve labeled it with a yellow hand whose thumb is in equipoise.

Orange thumbs down

If the contract’s language takes more rights from creators than we think reasonable, we’ve given it an orange “thumbs down!” and called it creator-unfriendly.

Burgundy overreaching hand

Then there are the contracts that are truly unreasonable–they ask the creator to give up too much! For these contracts, which we have designated incredibly overreaching, we have created “the claw”–a big, grasping red hand.

Finally, a word about form contracts used by certain websites for user-generated material and contest submissions.

  • aims principally to provide you with the kind of information about copyright and contracts that will help you resist overreaching demands from publishers and other distributors. Remember that many of the businesses that want to exploit your work expect that you won’t know any better than to sign their standard form agreement (or that you’ll be too grateful or too intimidated to raise questions). The more you know, the more you can try to push back against egregious contracts.
  • But this dynamic assumes that you are negotiating with a human being. If you are thinking of making your work available through at least certain kinds of websites, you may never encounter a human being; everything will be done online through a form contract. This may be a true “take it or leave it” situation.
  • It’s of course up to you to determine whether it's worth making your work available under non-negotiable terms. But can help ensure that you fully understand what those terms mean.

Browse the Contract Excerpts: