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Re: [BKARTS] Collaboration-Agreements
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: [BKARTS] Collaboration-Agreements
- From: Ben Wiens <ben@BENWIENS.COM>
- Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 11:01:07 -0700
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These are all good questions you ask Judy. Some people like to do all
collaboration with a handshake or simple agreements and hope for the best or
good faith. This can result in complications such as I have discovered.
I have not collaborated with book writers and designers but I collaborated
on designing a new product with a partner. We had all kinds of agreements
signed between the two of us, and this pretty much worked until he passed
away. Now non of the agreements were specific enough legally and I can't do
a thing with the project till the issues are resolved through either
lawyers, mediation, or the courts.
If the project is small there is not much lost if things don't work out, but
what if the project you are working on turned into the most creative and big
thing you ever did in your life? You would be kicking yourself thinking that
better agreements should have been signed. A word of warning. Many people
balk at signing heavy agreements. Not many people like signing prenuptial
agreements in marriages either, always hoping for the best. Here are some
thoughts on any collaborations which I hope others will comment on.
1. How are decisions made? One person always ends up being the boss so
who is boss should be established at the start. This person should have more
money invested or responsibility.
2. Who owns the work? I think that depends on the wording in the
agreement signed. If there isn't a special agreement, copyright law likely
applies which is not necessarily what you want when you work together on a
3. What happens when you can't agree? The boss forces their view.
Hopefully the boss takes you out to dinner to show that they really care
about your feelings.
4. What if one person is not happy with the final work? Tough luck, the
boss is always right.
5. What if the contributions are not equal? The formulae should result in
more profit for more work ideally but that is really tough to lay out in an
agreement at the beginning of the project.
6. What if someone decides to leave the project half way through? In the
agreement it should be stated that they get less than if they stayed, or
nothing if you have to start over on their part, and have no say on the
7. What makes for successful art collaborations? I would think where
everyone has a different specialty, so each partner is relying on the
expertise of the others.
8. What happens if one person dies. My personal opinion is that there
should be a "Joint Ownership Agreement" which should have a "Right of
Survivorship" specifically stated. Otherwise you could have the estate
trying to control the work or even not doing anything but preventing
everyone else from doing anything. If it is a big project at least the
remaining partners should be able to make all the decisions.
9. What happens when the "boss" who is doing the major aspect of the
project, gets too busy, leaves the project, or dies? Especially if the
project is a big one, I would want to have agreements in place so the
remaining partners can take over all the work.
10. What types of people should one look for in doing a collaboration?
People you feel comfortable working with. For example I like endless
discussion on a project, while some other people go with their gut feel and
don't like any discussion at all.
11. Would it be better to hire people rather than collaborate? Yes and
no. Lot's of projects are too speculative to pay the other partners.
Ben Wiens...applied energy scientist
Ben Wiens Energy Science Inc.
Energy Website: http://www.benwiens.com
Read my popular web-booklet "The Future of Fuel Cells"
I am interested in hearing people's thoughts about and/or experiences of =
the processes of collaboration, and in any reading people might =
recommend on the subject.
The sorts of issues I'd like to address are - How are decisions made? =
Who owns the work? What happens when you can't agree? What if one person =
is not happy with the final work? What if the contributions are not =
equal? What if someone decides to leave the project half way through?
What makes for sucessful art collaborations?
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