An investigative negotiator - otherwise known as a reader of this blog who sent something for me to review - forwarded a copy of the CurtCo
Robb Media Contributor Agreement. I'm posting a review for anyone who might find it interesting. Please remember that I'm not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice.
We start with the first paragraph. Subsequent assignments all have to use this document for the indefinite future. If you can't get them to budge on anything - and, rumor has it, you can't - then these will be the terms, period.
Next, the "work must be acceptable in form and content as submitted or revised." That leaves them room to refuse the work on virtually any grounds and doesn't put you in a position of arguing for full pay because you've submitted a professionally written article on the subject they mentioned.
Now for a nastier part: "If the work is acceptable, and if the work is published
[emphasis mine] in a CurtCo
Robb Media publication or a publication prepared for a CurtCo
Robb Media customer," then you get paid the fee in Schedule A - the document that says what the assignment is. You must prior approval of any expenses and document them.
If the work isn't accepted for publication - which could mean they just decide not to use it - the writer gets "a 'kill fee' not to exceed 25%" of the original fee. Notice the language "not to exceed." That clause isn't even guaranteeing 25%.
Next, "However the 'kill fee' will only be paid if it is demonstrable that the Contributor exerted best efforts to produce the work. Nothing in this agreement obligates CurtCo
Robb Media to use the work." How would you show "best efforts" in trying to produce an article? Log your time? provide all notes, which means you've handed over valuable material to people who don't seem inclined to pay for your full effort?
The publisher wants work made for hire, and if that doesn't apply (not all does, under the copyright statutes), then you assign copyright and all other rights and interests in the article. The company and its partners can do anything they want, and you don't get any extra money, even if they could turn the article into a movie deal.
They can use your name and biography "in connection with the use and exploitation of the work," but they don't guarantee you a byline.
Then you have the warranties, that the article "contains no defamatory, libelous or unlawful matter, and the exploitation of the work by CurtCo
Robb Media or its affiliates, licensees, assignees, successors and partners shall not violate or infringe upon the copyright rights, rights of privacy and/or publicity, or any other statutory, common law or other rights of any party." From what I've heard, it sounds as though they won't let you add "knowingly," although a later clause does say that it must be construed under California law, so it's not like you're saying that you provide these warranties under all laws in the world, as many contracts effectively have you do.
The indemnification covers "CurtCo
Robb Media and its affiliates, licensees, assignees, successors and partners" and is for "the breach or claimed breach of the foregoing representations and warranties." You aren't just indemnifying for an actual breach of the warranties, but for any claim that you've breached the warranties. That's so wide open that you are a duck sitting on a football field with hunters filling the stands.
"This Agreement contains the entire understanding and agreement between Contributor and CurtCo
Robb Media, supersedes and replaces all prior agreements and understandings (oral and written) and cannot be modified or amended except by a written agreement signed by Contributor and CurtCo
Robb Media. " If an editor tells you anything contrary to what the contract says, either before or after you sign it, those assurances mean nothing. This document is the sole set of rules.
From what I've heard, the company's rates aren't all that high on top of it, so you're having to give away a lot to get little. Better to get yourself to other clients.
Labels: contract, CurtCo Robb Media, review