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Collaboration Agreements For Creatives

by Victoria Pynchon
October 2008

From the IPADR blog of Victoria Pynchon, Les J. Weinstein, Eric Van Ginkel, Michael D. Young John J. McCaule yand John L. Wagner

Victoria Pynchon

Turns out the term "Hollywood Contract" is not an oxymoron after all.  Not if you follow the three-part series Why Every Writing Team Should Have a Written Collaboration Agreement over at Theater and Entertainment Law.  And don't think you don't need one of these if you are part of a young writing team just starting in business with a friend.  I recently mediated a litigated dispute between two life-long friends with the loss of the friendship being the highest cost of the parties' failure to spell out the terms of their agreement.

An ounce of IP Prevention is worth a pound of litigation cure. 

As blogger and entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark explains:

In the absence of a collaboration agreement, the parties may or may not be considered partners. The work they create may or may not be considered a “joint work”, and thus ownership and control of the disposition of the work called into question. While it is true that these issues tend only to arise in situations where the team has broken up, or is in the process of doing so, the existence of a collaboration agreement can be useful in managing the parties’ separation. In some respects, a collaboration agreement is the creative team’s equivalent of a prenuptial agreement. But in many cases the collaboration agreement can be much much more.

By negotiating the terms of the collaboration agreement at the outset of the work, the parties can uncover differences in their expectations, and avoid problems that might otherwise arise later. In the absence of a collaboration agreement, the parties’ efforts may be lost if there’s no meeting of the minds, and the project may simply wind up being abandoned… or mired in litigation. Obviously, it is important to work with a lawyer to craft a workable contract that’s tailored to your team’s specific circumstances.

Biography


Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all types of business torts and contract disputes.  During her two years of full-time neutral practice, she has co-mediated both mandatory and voluntary settlement conferences with Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Alexander Williams, III and Victoria Chaney.  As a result of her work with Judge Chaney in the Complex Court at Central Civil West, Ms. Pynchon has gained significant experience mediating construction defect litigation.  Ms. Pynchon received her J.D., Order of the Coif, from the U.C. Davis School of Law. 



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