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Music Law - horak Attorneys Hannover/ Munich, Germany

Checklist for music contracts

The following checklist for musical contracts shall not replace legal individual counselling or adjustments. The individual music checkpoints are not reproduced here for a concrete individual case. They do not replace any legal representation. No guarantee can be given for the completeness, correctness or the timeless of the following information, as the legal parameters (laws, acts, jurisprudence etc.) are always changing.

The checklist serves as basic familiarization with the topic.

  • Are the contractual types compatible? (Artist´s exclusive contract/publishing agreements etc.; the contract content is not the contract title, but the desired “preamble” at the beginning of the contract can be written down with free interpretation)
  • Is the contractual object correct and as precise as possible? (The subject matter of the contract is legally the core of the contract; no ambiguities should be left, and some terms may be defined in a separate clause. The contractual object is often filled with additional detailed rules for the granting of rights, exclusivity, advertising).
  • Are the contracting parties defined correctly and precisely? (Both contracting parties must be identified exactly and correctly. In case of companies, the right amendment, such as AG, GmbH & Co. KG, and Ltd etc. shall be used; the registers number shall be added for clarifications.) 
  • Begin of the contract/ Duration of the contract/Possibilities of termination? (The contract generally begins with the signing of the agreement; the term of contract is frequently agreed in music contracts, typically 1-3 years with extension options.)
  • Is the area of contract correct? (The contract territory is normally Germany, German-speaking countries such as Germany/Austria/Switzerland, the European Union or even, more generally, worldwide)
  • Are licence fees fully agreed? (The HAP is often used as a basis; in other contracts, royalties on the products or general licence fees are also taken into consideration. The different types of usage must be taken into account, for instance, downloads are considered to be a different kind of usage.
  • Are the details regarding the contractual object complete?
    • Are legal concessions and reversion of rights fully agreed? (Within the subject matter of the contract, the granting of rights and their correct presentation are particularly important. The absence of a right may lead to a later chargeable compulsory acquisition of rights.)
    • Exclusiveness of the right´s concession? (there are different full/partial/non-exclusive possibilities of licensing=rights granting)
    • Obligation of publication correctly agreed? (Together with the advertising, the obligation of publication is an important basis for a contract)
    • Participation rights and duty of cooperation? (Due to the characteristic of a contract of work, the right of participation of the artist in advertisings or artistic compositions should be taken in consideration.)
    • What about the quality and quantity of the agreed services? (It is normally recommendable to agree on certain precise quality and quantity.)
    • Advertising and merchandising? (Obligations and rights must be previously regulated, and this begins with the possession of the merchandising rights and other subsidiary rights).
    • Contractual penalty or exemptions? (Obligations or omissions may be endorsed by means of contractual penalties or, on the other hand, by an exemption agreement).
    • Who will carry the contractual and consequential costs? (Any contractual position could take care of these costs. It is generally fundamental to clarify whether costs are offset of paid.)
    • Have been payments and accounting clearly agreed? (In addition to the agreement on license fees and costs, the payments or possible accounting agreements must be determine in material and temporal terms.)

What can we do for you in the field of Music business?

We advise artists, musicians, composers, writers, producers as well as media, publishing, production and distribution companies of all sizes, in all matters of national and international music law. Our lawyers are highly specialized and have the best contacts with companies in the media, film and music industry. We offer full-service advice for all legal matters of the music business. You may already know one of our attorneys from scientific publications, our seminars or from the media. If you are hearing from us for the first time, you are welcome to contact out law firm, and get in touch with one of our attorneys that will help you shaping your success. Our Profile offers multiple areas of law, which may be missing in your consultancy network.

These include the following:

  • Drafting and examination of contracts, license agreement, remuneration agreements, such as publishing contracts, edition agreements,  publisher agreements, including the contracting of the production of sound, film and data media; (artists and publishing contracts, distribution contracts, production agreements, performances agreement);
  • General Media Law including publishing, press, internet, music, film, television and event law, as well as drafting contracts for film and television productions (scripted contracts, exploitation agreements, production agreements);
  • Management, agency, consultancy and promotion contracts, media cooperation and merchandising agreements;
  • Technical protection measures, such as access control systems and copy protection systems, in particular  for audio CDs, DVDs, film and multimedia DVDs and other data;
  • Negotiation management for authors with production and distribution companies;
  • Negotiation supervision between production and sales companies against authors;
  • Copyright examination and evaluations, especially in the area of design and art, as well as in the case of speech, sound and image works;
  • Examination, security and enforcement of rights;
  • National and international rights management;
  • Utilization tests (assessment of the use of work);
  • Judicial and arbitrational enforcement of all kinds of copyrights, including injunctive process and international legal proceedings.

For further information, please visit .

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© German lawyer Michael Horak 2002-2018

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