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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Should I budge on this contract agreement?
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10/01/2009 03:06:08 PM · #1
I'm in the process of negotiating a contract with the local university in my hometown. They gave me a contract, of which I made several changes and added my own terms and conditions from the ASMP.org web site.

I just recently opened my studio, so I'm in need of jobs like this that will boost my credibility and get my name out there.
My question is, do I give in with what they want or stick to my guns and risk losing this contract?

There are several issues, and I'm wondering if anyone can give me some advice.
There concern is that now they will have to bring the contract to their own lawyer, and that will take too long, and be "more of a hassle than it needs to be."

Here is part of the e-mail I recieved:

"If it gets elevated to having our attorney look over this, I think we will have to call it off (but I hope it doesn't go that far).

I took out one line that you had included about the university assuming legal costs if it goes to court and photographer wins. I don't think we can expose ourselves to that risk. However, if anything does go to court you could just include legal fees in your suit and recover your costs that way - will that work for you?"


I have already cut the terms and conditions buy a ton, and already feel I may be putting myself at risk when it comes to legal issues.

Do I just cut it out anyways? Or should I say we can stick to the original contract for this project only if they promise to submit the contract to their lawyer now so next year it will be ready (assuming they want me to photograph next year).

any help will be much appreciated!
10/01/2009 03:08:32 PM · #2
Have you had your attorney look over the contract?
10/01/2009 03:14:47 PM · #3
I don't have an attorney.
10/01/2009 03:27:31 PM · #4
That would depend on the legal risks.

Can you give more details on what is at issue?
10/01/2009 03:29:36 PM · #5
Well you should get one to look at it! Even thought you got it off of a legitimate site, you should still have your attorney look at it, because contract law isn't universal...what may fly in Delaware won't fly in California. So take it to an attorney, pay the $100 or less for the attorney to scan over it and make any revisions, and cover your ass!
10/01/2009 04:02:14 PM · #6
Originally posted by scarbrd:

That would depend on the legal risks.

Can you give more details on what is at issue?


There isn't a specific issue, it's just basically a contract covering my butt. It states that if there was in issue in court, if I win, then the other party pays the legal fees I incurred.

The contract also states that the other party can only assume there is a model release if I give them one. And it is their duty to deem the model release suitable to use the image commercially. And if they use an image without a model release, etc, then they are liable, not me.
10/01/2009 04:06:49 PM · #7
Originally posted by AJSullivan:

Well you should get one to look at it! Even thought you got it off of a legitimate site, you should still have your attorney look at it, because contract law isn't universal...what may fly in Delaware won't fly in California. So take it to an attorney, pay the $100 or less for the attorney to scan over it and make any revisions, and cover your ass!


The contract is tailored to Montana and Montana laws. I wish I did have legal council, but unfortunately the project needs to start ASAP, which is part of why they don't want to get their lawyer involved, because it will take too long when the project needs to start next weekend.

It's a sticky situation. And in my opinion, it's their problem that they didn't contact me sooner to get the ball rolling. There's a great quote, it's something like "Poor Planning on Your Part Does Not Constitute an Emergency on My Part."

I'd love to have a lawyer take a look at it, and give them a chance to show a copy to their lawyer. But that just isn't going to happen.

10/01/2009 04:12:58 PM · #8
My two cents here...

Do you expect that this would have to go to legal actions to recover payment or anything? I'm assuming that a University will do all it can to abide by the outlined contract (aside from the part you are disputing over) because the media circus of them being sued is harmful. It seems like you are arguing over a minor point. As long as the contract does NOT state that you are responsible for all legal fees or their legal fees, then you can probably recoup all or some of your legal fees as damage if it comes to that. I don't see a need to lose out on the money over something that's more likely never to come to fruition and that you can more than likely recover if it does.
10/01/2009 04:14:23 PM · #9
My understanding (be it minimal, and not US) is that the Judge will deceide if costs should be awarded.
And anyhow, what is the likelihood of going to court (I will get flamed for that but...........)
Realistically, you have stated you are just starting, you need money, exposure, getting your photos out there, and the like...........
I know some people (especially here) are risk adverse, but when you are starting, you need to be a little flexible.

Ask yourself, what could we go to court, where we are against each other, and I win???? And the judge isn't going to award me costs?????
If you have got there, your relationship with the college has obviouslyt gone real bad..................
Is it worth losing the contract over that????

As for the second line, regarding Model release, there is a valid point there, depending on what type of work you are going to do for them. An understanding of the requirement for Model release is also required. For the work you will do for them, is model release required? The College could even have an over-arching rule anyway regarding use of photographs taken on college property, so you could again be arguiong over something very small, that neither party fully understands, so they think it could be a big deal.

Fight the battles you need to fight, but dont make mountains for yourself. Starting a business is hard enough without putting extra obstacles in the way................

Good Luck
(Am waiting for the flames from the risk adverse amoungst the group)
10/01/2009 04:21:31 PM · #10
Another good idea, maybe off topic, but if you are doing business and if you stand to lose a lot through potential litigation, you may want to consider representing yourself as a business by forming an LLC or S-Corp to isolate your liability to just your business entity and not your personal property / assets. Aside from the legal/tax benefits, it may also add to some of that credability you are looking for.
10/01/2009 04:37:29 PM · #11
I'm with Kaiser, Alb, and others. I don't think this is a battle you need to be fighting for this job, at this time, if it might be costing you the job. The risk is very low (University is a reputable client) and the reward is also very low (what are the odds of ever implementing this clause in the first place? Minimal...) so it seems like you could let it go.

Hell, I was a professional photographer for decades, and I never had a clause like that in any of my contracts, nor did I ever have to use legal recourse on a client for anything other than stiffing me on a bill...

R.
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