Contracts FORUM: SoulfulDetroit Forum: Contracts
Top of pageBottom of page   By Julian ( on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 01:31 pm:

Are the contracts on this site "good to go" for a guy to download and use who's beginning to establish himself and his recording business?

I am also thinking os "selling some beats" for some quick cash and I want to know if the "producer of tracks" contracts are good to go.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Fred ( on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 02:10 pm:

After a quick scan, my answer has to be "no."

I am not simply saying this as a lawyer looking to protect his profession. The forms are not bad templates in that they appear to cover most (but not all) subjects that should be resolved in contracts, but nearly every one of the terms could, and should, be modified to fit your individual needs. I don't know where you would be setting up your business, but there may also be local requirements concerning contracts that these forms don't address at all.

$15 of advice is usually worth every penny you pay for it, and I should point out that if you get into a major mess over using their forms, you can't sue the authors for malpractice.

Leave my consultation fee with my secretary on your way out.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 03:14 pm:

Fred gives good advice Julian. You must consider the many variables that may exist when signing an artist. You would do well to consult a competent entertainment attorney when you get to that point in your endeavor.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Julian ( on Saturday, August 23, 2003 - 11:57 pm:

Well, all I really want to do for the next couple of months is sell some beats, then I should have enough chesse to get a real lawyer for the real nitty gritty stuff.

So even the "producer of tracks" contracts are inadequate, huh?

Hey Fred, are you in the Detroit area?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Fred ( on Sunday, August 24, 2003 - 01:54 am:

Nope. I am substantially out of your area code.

Some of the local posters should be able to direct you to a young and hungry and smart attorney who might be willing to grow with you and keep the initial fees low or let you pay them off over time. You might even find one willing to work on the cuff in return for a small percentage interest in future income, but be very, very careful of this kind of deal because you could end up with more problems than you can imagine. Frankly, if you get a lawyer who offers you that kind of deal, you need ANOTHER lawyer to negotiate your agreement with the first lawyer, and that defeats the whole purpose of keeping things cheap.

Picking the right attorney at your career level takes a little extra work. To start, ask your peers who they use and if they are satisfied. Interview the lawyer before you agree to anything. Ask if he or she has any experience, if he has taken any CLE (continuing legal education) courses on entertainment law, and if he owns Passman and/or Kraisilovski. If he doesn't know what those words mean, find another attorney. Those are the basic practice guides, and both are within arm's reach of my desk, and every good entertainment lawyer's desk that I have ever seen (except Kraisilovski's own).

Once your lawyer passes the audition, cultivate him or her. Buy him lunch occasionally (and fast food is fine). Don't wait until you have a problem to call him, stay in touch. Keep him supplied with copies of your new stuff and make sure he is on the VIP list for any gigs you are involved with. Schmooze goes a long way.

The initial thing you are looking for, form contracts, really shouldn't take more than a couple hours of drafting time, so the bill should be reasonable, and you will earn it back simply by avoiding problems in the future.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Carl Dixon London ( on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 03:44 am:

Fred, we have never really spoke, but I read your posts religiously, as I respect the legal side of things, and like to be educated. The nearest thing I know about the legal system over here is 'The Carbolic Smoke Ball' circa 1893 and the snail in the ginger beer story!

Please may I ask a technical/legal question? We have many label scans on our forum and they are fantastic. One of the attractions of buying the records was indeed the colourful label that gave information regarding where and who recorded the songs. They paint the picture and set the scene for the song and in my opinion, the artwork is a crucial part of the story.

My question is: Who owns those designs and can they be reproduced for hire and reward, if that is the correct terminology? If I spotted a 'Neptune' single a mile away. I would buy it, not because what was in the grooves, but because the label gave credibility to the artist and song, you were about to hear and normally, it would be a good gamble!

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 03:59 pm:

Hey Gang!
First of all, I want to thank Julian for being my eyes & ears when I was in Detroit for business. He drove me to my meetings which allowed him the chance to meet with folks such as the Funk Brothers' Joe Hunter, Bobby Franklin & Ted Richards (the son of Aretha Franklin).

Allow me to consult with my attorneys here in NYC to see if they have any colleagues in the Detroit area they would recommend. It's the least I could do for the help you provided me.

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Fred ( on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 06:13 pm:


Ownership of label designs are usually claimed by the record company that controls the masters, but, to be honest, not all the deals involving the sale of masters really cover the label designs as well. For instance, when UMG bought "Motown Records," they bought the company and everything that came with it, including all the label designs. On the other hand, when Sony acquired the Monument masters out of bankruptcy, that is all they got. A couple years ago, when they tried to revive "Monument" as a Sony label, they ran into a problem because they didn't acquire the name or label design. I don't recall how they finally worked that out, and I think they ended up folding the label anyhow.

You have to be particularly careful with reproducing record labels. There are specific provisions of US copyright law that cover them (because getting the labels right was the key to successful bootlegging) and counterfeiting labels actually carries tougher penalties than simple copyright infringement.

All that being said, in my mail today came my wonderful T shirt from Lars; a great reproduction of the "What's Going On" Tamla label on the front and the radio station logo on the back. I strongly suspect the use of the label constitutes unlawful reproduction under US law, but I am certain that if UMG wants to come after me, they'll never take me alive. :)

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 06:50 pm:

Sony used the Monument name for their country music division and recreated one of the label's logos. The Dixie Chicks recorded for Monument until they formed their own label Open Wide Records (this may have been the result of their court case against Sony over royalties). Due to the recent cutbacks at Sony Music after Tommy Mottola left, Monument was shut down and the Country music staff were transferred to Columbia & Epic.
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Fred ( on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 - 09:09 pm:


All that checks out with my memory, and I think they struck some deal with Fred Foster, who still had the Monument corporate shell to clear the name.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Carl Dixon London ( on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 04:16 am:

Thanks Fred - the reason I ask, I have an idea that would discreetly raise the profile of some labels, even though defunked 30 odd years ago.

Our Northern Soul scene is very diverse over here, with many venues providing a mixture of sounds and indeed records for sale. To profile a certain song and record label by other means, ensures the mystery of it be 'in the face' rather than hidden away from mainstream society, with my idea. Customers familiar with Northern Soul and those, not would purchase the product. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to ensure that this music lives for as long as I do, hook or by crook. T-shirts are one thing, but I have an idea that may be of value to those smaller label owners who never made much money in the day, but could now. After all, their records are changing hands for handsome amounts and they see no benefit, unless the song is on a CD compilations somewhere. I am no businessman, but I know if tastefully done, and licensed correctly, it may be some unexpected pocket money for them. My angle is, I do this because I want to and it helps me focus on my song writing. Keeps me in the Detroit and Philly mood, rather than drifting into football and cricket conversation, which I do not care for over here. It further educates me and helps me understand how all this has affected me throughout the last 30 years.

The Darrell Banks issue has pricked my conscious and made me think a little. I spend much of my free time writing songs and tinkering with my music. Sometimes I need a break and my project would be fulfilling because connected with the music I love and hopefully, have a commission for somebody somewhere.

Another question Fred - if I wanted to use a photograph of a group or artist, I would expect the copyright holder, to license/give permission for it to be used? Presumably, If I supplied my own photographs that I took. I would be that copyright holder and not need permission to reproduce?

Thansk Fred


Top of pageBottom of page   By Fred ( on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 11:00 am:

Photographs of people pose two separate rights problems for anyone seeking a commercial use.

The first you've spotted, dealing with the copyright holder in the image. The second involves the "right to name and likeness" of the individuals in the photo. In the US, this is often attached to what are called "privacy rights," and if anyone in the picture is alive, you will need the survivors' permission to use the photo.

Even if the subject is deceased, there can be problems, depending on where the individual was residing when he or she died. Different states have different rules on post-mortem privacy rights. For instance, if the artist lived in Mississippi at the time of death, rights to name and likeness end at the date of death. California provides protection for quite an extended period after death (a legal difference for which we can thank the odd combination of Fred Astaire and the Three Stooges).

You need to check both sets of rights carefully in any commercial project. Just because a photo looks old, it may not be in the public domain. Dick Waterman's wonderful photographs of Delta bluesmen often show up in commercial uses without permission because there is a misconception they are old enough to be in the public domain.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Carl Dixon London ( on Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - 03:34 pm:

Thanks Fred. Should I pursue this venture, I would have to do my homework in that case. I would never intentionally publish something without prior written consent. It is not a massive profit making venture as such, but a sideline I feel would benefit me, on a personal level, but more importantly, those involved all those years ago who took risks then, to record or make the music and have indirectly contributed to the musical well being of many folk who celebrate this phenomena all over the world. My plan would be to make a sample and see what it looks like, and go from there. I would be happy at this stage, doing the donkeywork finding copyright holders.

There is no deadline or budget on this - just love. Call me old fashioned, but I feel very strongly about legal issues and having learnt a little about contracts, understand some of these important protocols. One of them would be, don't drink a bottle of ginger beer without checking what's inside it first - otherwise you may get a mouthful of snail! Do you know about that case over there, or is that buried deep down in English law?

Thanks Fred - I may be back!

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