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Taking Care of Business
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Old October 15th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #1
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Paying royalties on "free" music

I'm shooting a short film at the end of the month and I offered the music composer the same Creative Commons Attribution contract I used for my last two short films: I can use her music for my film freely, and she retains copyright. But now, months after we shook on it, she's balking at signing the CC contract and she's begun talking about royalties if I sell my film.

For one thing, I already have an ironclad contractual agreement with the actors' union that I'll pay them the deferred fees if there are profits; for another, I've sunk $5,000 into this movie and I'd like to recoup at least some of it. And this is assuming there even is a sale, which is unlikely with a short film!

Her homemade contract is full of holes and I don't want to try to re-invent the wheel. Are there variations on the CC Attribution contratc that have provisions for royaltes? Any other contract I might find somewhere? She originally offered to do it for free for her Master's thesis, and I understand she might want a share of the (highly hypothetical) profits, but I don't want to get caught in a legal battle down the line.


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Old October 15th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #2
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I'm not saying it's wrong to want to be remunerated for one's work BUT one SHOULD stick to any agreement that is reached, verbal or otherwise. Good luck, Jacques (et bon chance).
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Old October 15th, 2009, 08:32 PM   #3
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Yipes! Here's another reason to have signatures on contracts early.

I don't know how integral her music is to your movie, but if you can unweave it from your work I'd tell her to walk 50 paces down a tall pier, then turn left and keep walking until her hat floats. If the music is wound in tight and you don't want to undo it, you'll probably have to come up with a standard contract. I don't think CC will work anymore. But I'm a pikey, not a lawyer. You need one.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 07:14 AM   #4
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Maybe she, like you, would like to recoup on her efforts.
She has basically worked for free on two of your films right?
And now being presented with yet another opportunity to work for free.
You yourself say that it is highly unlikely the film will sell & make a profit.
Are you getting my point Jacques?
Not trying to be rude here but, You are starting to sound like one of those no-pay craiglist producers that people really love.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #5
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I don't want to get into a parochial discussion of using others' work for cheap or free for low budget projects. What clogs my drain is people not staying true to their word. If the musician committed to use under Creative Commons, regardless of whether it was in writing or not, she should stick to it. It may not have been the smartest decision on her part, but she said yes and now she's saying no.

This is why it's so important to get things in writing early in the process. There are too many people out there that won't stand by their commitments to do it any other way. Sad state, really.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 09:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
She has basically worked for free on two of your films right?
I didn't get that from his post. I got that he used the same CC CONTRACT as two previous films, but not that the composer was the same.

And as I mentioned earlier, yes everyone should get BENEFIT from their creative endeavours but if one wants to be a pro, one should stick to their contractual obligations as well UNLESS SOMETHING SUBSTANTIAL HAS CHANGED since the original agreement. For example, if a project starts out as no budget and everyone signs on for free and THEN the project gets Hollywood "green lighted" with a $25 million dollar budget, I think I'd be renegotiating (and rightly so).
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Old October 17th, 2009, 06:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques E. Bouchard View Post
...
For one thing, I already have an ironclad contractual agreement with the actors' union that I'll pay them the deferred fees if there are profits; for another, I've sunk $5,000 into this movie and I'd like to recoup at least some of it. And this is assuming there even is a sale, which is unlikely with a short film!

...
J.
Call me old fashioned, but I think the producer recouping his investment and making a profit should be the last thing to be paid, not the first. You don't recoup your investment and then pay your cast and crew with what's left over. You pay the creative contributors such as your composer, the cast and the crew first, then if anything is left over you can start recovering your own out-of-pocket costs. The producer is paid for taking the risk that he might not see any return at all on his investment. That's why if it does well, he stands to make the most return in the end. If it's a hit, he can recover his investment many times over. The other members of the team earn a smaller amount but they ought to get paid whether it's a hit or a flop.
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