music for film contract
4peanuts
Thread Starter
#1
22nd November 2012
Old 22nd November 2012
  #1
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
music for film contract

hi guys,

I have been asked to write the music for an upcoming short film for free and the director says "all music created is copyrighted to the movie, in a royalty free contract" - is this normal?

I am happy to do it for free in return for using it in my showreel

Thanks,
Chris
#2
23rd November 2012
Old 23rd November 2012
  #2
Gear interested
 

Bad deal, they want you to do it for free AND they own it? I would definitely try to modify the contract so that you retain ownership and freedom to distribute as you see fit.
#3
23rd November 2012
Old 23rd November 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by enhues View Post
Bad deal, they want you to do it for free AND they own it? I would definitely try to modify the contract so that you retain ownership and freedom to distribute as you see fit.
Yes most film studios own the music written for their films, which is why you can hear cues from one movie used in the trailer for other movies from the same studio. But those composers got PAID, you are not. Tell them they can pay you now, or later (by you retaining your music rights).

They are just looking for something for nothing, and trying to make you feel like this is your "big chance," which it ain't

TH
#4
23rd November 2012
Old 23rd November 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
rhizomeman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Yes most film studios own the music written for their films, which is why you can hear cues from one movie used in the trailer for other movies from the same studio. But those composers got PAID, you are not. Tell them they can pay you now, or later (by you retaining your music rights).

They are just looking for something for nothing, and trying to make you feel like this is your "big chance," which it ain't

TH
This^ Either get paid OR retain ownership rights - let them pick, or don't do it.
#5
23rd November 2012
Old 23rd November 2012
  #5
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 

Ditto. Either you OWN the music outright, or they pay you and they own it. They can't have their cake and eat it too - so to speak. If they deny that, I'd walk.
#6
23rd November 2012
Old 23rd November 2012
  #6
Shark Sandwich
 
recordinghopkins's Avatar
Not a chance. Tell 'em to take a hike.
#7
23rd November 2012
Old 23rd November 2012
  #7
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Yes most film studios own the music written for their films, which is why you can hear cues from one movie used in the trailer for other movies from the same studio. But those composers got PAID, you are not. Tell them they can pay you now, or later (by you retaining your music rights).

They are just looking for something for nothing, and trying to make you feel like this is your "big chance," which it ain't

TH
Most films don't really "own" the music. They own the recordings and they sign up the publishing 100% retaining exclusive use rights; the writers share still stays with the composer & you still have right of veto for none core project use (i.e. further commercial exploitation in synch etc). In essence the same power as owning but isn't ownership. To OWN the rights of music it'd be a work for hire agreement and these have very recently been shown to be not enforceable in law without pension, healthcare and taxation etc as a full time employee. A film company trying to "own" music outright through a work for hire agreement would be lining itself up for a court case and null contract when this goes through the mill as it will over the next few years.



The deal is bobbins though and you are absolutely right; this is nobodies "big chance". How about "yea the musics owned by the company but i want an exec producer credit and 5% ownership of the movie"....
#8
24th November 2012
Old 24th November 2012
  #8
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gsilbers's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
Most films don't really "own" the music. They own the recordings and they sign up the publishing 100% retaining exclusive use rights; the writers share still stays with the composer & you still have right of veto for none core project use (i.e. further commercial exploitation in synch etc). In essence the same power as owning but isn't ownership. To OWN the rights of music it'd be a work for hire agreement and these have very recently been shown to be not enforceable in law without pension, healthcare and taxation etc as a full time employee. A film company trying to "own" music outright through a work for hire agreement would be lining itself up for a court case and null contract when this goes through the mill as it will over the next few years.



The deal is bobbins though and you are absolutely right; this is nobodies "big chance". How about "yea the musics owned by the company but i want an exec producer credit and 5% ownership of the movie"....
this is correct.
#9
24th November 2012
Old 24th November 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Going to throw out another idea here.

I agree with the they can't have their cake and eat it too scenario. If they are not paying you a fee upfront (or upon completion) do this: tell them you will score the film, take no fee, but would like to get paid x-amount of dollars down the road, should the movie turn a profit. You remain the copyright holder of all of the music that you have written for the film. You will grant them a 2-year exclusive license, thus guaranteeing that the music will not be used anywhere else for any purpose for the next two years. If, at the conclusion of the 2-year period, they have paid you the agreed upon sum, the music stays exclusive to the film forever. If they have not, you are now free to take that music and do with it as you pleae, including but not limited to using that music in other films, and giving some or all of the tracks to music libraries. This puts you in position to possibly make some money from the music you have spent time composing.

Best of luck.
4peanuts
Thread Starter
#10
24th November 2012
Old 24th November 2012
  #10
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Sorry guys I have been away. Thanks a lot for the replies, will read through them now
#11
26th November 2012
Old 26th November 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
spiderman's Avatar
NEVER agree to this type of "deal." I would rant about how these people are trying to screw you but I can't, because I believe they just don't have a clue regarding how things work. Whoever this is likely read something in "How to Make a Great Movie For Free" and they are just trying to cover their butt without really understanding the situation.

All the advice you've been given is excellent. Don't do it with this agreement.

I would run it this way..... Do it for free if you want but retain all the rights (composer and publisher) and limit their license to "not for profit" activities like festivals or screenings. If they make any money, have a clause in the contract that gives you a percentage off the top (before expenses) with a cap that limits you to a maximum of $X. You keep all the rights. Period. (Unless they are willing to pay you per cue on top of your creative fee.)

If they aren't willing to be understanding of your contribution and your goodwill and negotiate a fair contract, they are probably not the type of people you want to deal with.
#12
9th December 2012
Old 9th December 2012
  #12
Lives for gear
 
GearAndGuitars's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4peanuts View Post
hi guys,

I have been asked to write the music for an upcoming short film for free and the director says "all music created is copyrighted to the movie, in a royalty free contract" - is this normal?

I am happy to do it for free in return for using it in my showreel

Thanks,
Chris
If they're not paying you, you keep the rights in the master recordings and all copyrights in the 100% publishing. What they get is a perpetual licenses for use as synchronized, in the film, in context.

If they pay you (and how much) determines any transfer in ownership in masters or copyrights.
#13
9th December 2012
Old 9th December 2012
  #13
Gear maniac
 

What's being talked about I think is usually called work for hire. Meaning they pay you with the understanding they now entirely own all rights to work done under their hire. It's done and sometimes insisted on by the film company's lawyers.

Obviously not being paid and their keeping all the rights doesn't work as an equation.

Maybe you want to suss out their motivations for expecting that and negotiate something better. After all this deal means they can use your material badly as stock music in anything else they do from here on out. Hire it out too.

Maybe you want to sign a contract that the music is created for their exclusive use in a specific project but you retain ownership. If you or they have further plans for it's use then you will open negotiations at that point.
#14
9th December 2012
Old 9th December 2012
  #14
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jrhager84's Avatar
 

I'd never take that deal. I'd renegotiate, or walk.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I777
#15
9th December 2012
Old 9th December 2012
  #15
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by itisnick View Post
What's being talked about I think is usually called work for hire. Meaning they pay you with the understanding they now entirely own all rights to work done under their hire. It's done and sometimes insisted on by the film company's lawyers.
Exactly. Work for hire is no longer legally enforceable. If a film company writes this sort of contract it would not hold up under legal scrutiny if any issues happened. You can only be under a work for hire agreement if you are employed - and that means a contracted time period with hours, line manager, insurance, benefits and salary with taxation at source. A film company cannot do this easily with music. Nor do they want to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by itisnick View Post
Obviously not being paid and their keeping all the rights doesn't work as an equation.
And they can't legally do it either. A lot of companies DO it - but with legal action they find themselves in a whole heap of bother. There is future business in indemnifying older contracts against WFH law suits for both parties.
#16
22nd December 2012
Old 22nd December 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
AwwDeOhh's Avatar
 

RUN!
this is not anything resembling a 'good' or fair deal. This is NOT how you build up your reel.

You will be branded the go to guy for FREE work, and you will never earn a dime now or in the future. You also bring down the standard for the rest of us if you take such deals. If they don't move a LOT on their terms, run and don't give it a second thought.
#17
7th January 2013
Old 7th January 2013
  #17
Anything ever happen with this, OP? You get a better deal?
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