The general public gets a great deal of their legal news via the entertainment industry, particularly the music industry where contracts are made with young, hopeful artists so blinded by the opportunity to be signed by a major record label, they don’t read what’s on print, signing sometimes life time contracts on a reflex. They certainly don’t think of the repercussions of what they’re signing for, and that they’re entering a big monopoly game, but that’s understandable considering many artists are still in their teens or early 20s. Plus, they’re artists, not entrepreneurs, so their focus is on their work getting recognized and of course, fame and fortune. But how many young musicians can afford a lawyer to look at a contract, prior to signing it and fast forward to a promising career in the music business? A teenager responds to a stimulus and without conscious thought, signs a contract.
Duran Duran were in their late teens when they signed their contract with a record label, not realizing they were agreeing to give up their work’s ownership rights to the record label for at least 35 years, but completely unaware that in the US things were different. Keyboard player and founder of the band Nick Rhodes said, “We signed a publishing agreement as unsuspecting teenagers, over three decades ago, when just starting out and when we knew no better.” Many musicians can revoke the contract clauses in relation to copyrights after 35 years but in Duran Duran’s case, things got complicated in the US. The band thought they had the inalienable right to claim back their copyrights, however, the judge decided to rule against Duran Duran this week because English contractual law barred them from ending their copyrights contract. In simple terms, Duran Duran’s hits like Planet Earth, Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, A View to a Kill, The Reflex and many other international hits, are by law, not theirs, they belong to the record label who can do with those songs whatever they see fit and take the profits to their own bank account – Duran Duran’s profits and copyrights are at he mercy of a contract signed on a reflex rather then on the advice of a legal expert.
Having a lawyer check a contract before being signed cannot be underestimated. Once you sign a contract, it is very difficult, very complicated and sometimes by law, impossible to alter or terminate it. You might end up with the costs of a lawsuit that will, not only end your business but also leave you bankrupt. The costs incurred by signing a contract on a reflex, without the advice of a legal expert far outweigh the costs of a contract review. Before you sign a contract, contact a lawyer at DG Law for an initial free consultation and once you are happy and confident that we can help you, send your contract to be reviewed by a legal expert in our team. Your contract will be reviewed, all the small print will be scrutinized and advice will be provided so that the wording in the contract or agreement works in your favour, thus avoiding pitfalls and future court judgements that will cost you your business and a lot more. By Sandra Garcao
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