What Are Collaboration Agreements, and Why Do All Creative Businesses and Ventures Need One to Avoid Disaster?

Business collaborations are extremely effective in growing creative brands. However, without a collaboration agreement, your business cannot license or sell your product without the consent of all collaborators. This substantially limits your rights as a creator. The collaboration agreement contains provisions governing the relationship between your business and other creative collaborators. It outlines the terms and conditions of the working relationship, including the scope of the project, how various responsibilities will be allocated, and how profits will be shared. This agreement protects your business’s assets by outlining the outcome of various situations before they occur.

Under federal copyright law, collaborative works are considered “joint works” with what the law considers to be co-creators having equal control and rights to royalties and profits. That is, in the absence of an agreement otherwise of course. 

Collaboration agreements address important factors like copyright ownership, roles and responsibilities, compensation, decision-making authority, and dispute resolution. These agreements allow collaborators to avoid conflict by clearly outlining the rights and interests of the parties. 

Without a collaboration agreement, you won’t be able to do anything with the fruits of your collaborative efforts without the authorization of the other collaborators. For example, if your partner doesn’t want to release your project, they can prevent you from ever using it to make money. I don’t know about you, but that possibility is problematic for me. 

Generally, when one party enlists another party to help develop a project or product, the agreement is drafted in their favor. It may make sense for the commissioning party to maintain exclusive copyright ownership and a greater share of the profits, or even all profits, depending on the arrangement. 

A good example would be if you decided to host a seminar and have invited speakers or other presenters. Do you want to share control of the event with these guests because they are legally “collaborators” on certain projects necessary to bring it to life? What if you want to repurpose the materials? 

You’ll need every collaborator’s permission to do just about anything with your project, if you let the default law kick in. That’s why it’s imperative that you have a collaboration agreement when collaborating on projects with other individuals and businesses. Need a collaboration agreement to ensure you get to capitalize off the fruits of your collaboration? Head inside the Vault to lock down yours now.