The Internet Creators Guild (ICG), a nonprofit organization founded roughly one year ago by vlogger Hank Green to champion digital creators, has published yet another study about concerns and pitfalls surrounding contracts commonly signed by creators — with both brands and multi-channel networks.
ICG consulted dozens of industry lawyers, creators, and managers to determine best practices. And while circumstances vary from creator to creator, the organization says that, above all, “it’s pretty safe to assume that if you didn’t draft a sentence, then it’s not in your favor.” Therefore, creators should always read and understand their obligations in a contract carefully, and ensure that there are no open-ended terms. As deals increase in value, according to the ICG, engaging a lawyer will likely become necessary.
To this end, the ICG has created a free document designed to help creators know what terms to be on the lookout for within the standard terms and provisions of a contract. The organization also suggests Nolo as a helpful resource for researching basic legal terminology and concepts.
In terms of best practices with respect to brand deals, the ICG suggests that: any additions to an agreement should come with additional fees; revisions should be specified and limited; content ownership should always remain with creators; fees should be clearly outlined with some up-front payment; and brand usage of any ensuing content should be specified — with any exclusive relationships being brief and not too broad.
When it comes to signing with MCNs, the ICG advises that: initially, the length of the partnership should be short — ideally with a trial period (of thirty days to three months) and without an auto-renewal clause; contracts should offer creators more than just an ad percentage split; and content ownership and creative control should always remain in the hands of the creator.
“Creators are beautiful, unique creatures that businesses want to work with because of the economic value they can provide,” the ICG wrote in a blog post, which features additional resources and tips. “Those businesses are going to want to protect themselves, and the stability they can provide is vital now more than ever, but don’t let them fence you in completely.”