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Veronica is the Director of Content for Docracy.com, a home for free, open source legal documents, socially curated by the communities that use them. She has a legal background and works closely with tech startups and freelance designers in Brooklyn, NY.
Rule number one for designers of all kinds: use a contract. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Should I use a service agreement? A retainer? A licensing contract? With the help of Docracy, we collected the experience of many designers to provide a wide range of starting points for less experienced creative professionals, and to start a permanent free legal resource for the community.
Below you’ll find a collection of legal documents curated by our fantastic community. We are looking for your feedback and contribution to grow this collection. Suggest more items or add the contract you use for your own work.
Do you remember those “10 Useful Legal Documents for Designers?” Well, it turns out that you, designers who read Smashing Magazine, liked one in particular: a plain-language, straightforward “Contract of Works for Web Design” which is based heavily on Andy Clarke’s “Contract Killer”. Since Mr. Wong published that template eight months ago, almost 1,500 designers have downloaded it on Docracy alone.
Why is this legal template so popular? Does it really work better than other contracts? Can it help you close that job faster and protect you from getting stiffed? Could it become an industry standard, like grid systems and agile development?
Contracts are a source of anxiety and dismay in creative work, but they exist for a good reason. A good contract ensures that you and your client have the same expectations, and protects you in case things go south. Ideally, your contract should be a combination of industry standards, legal protection and personal preferences.
To help you get started, here’s a set of 10 basic agreements for a variety of common business situations that creative professionals face. How much do you expect to be paid in advance? What happens if a payment is late? Who will own the rights to the work, and when? Contracts can seem overwhelming, but don’t need to be. Reading through these documents is an opportunity to learn from experienced designers in a collaborative setting.