Publishing agreements touch on the ownership and administration of the rights associated with the copyright of a musical composition. They are agreements between the author(s) of a work and a music publisher. Under publishing agreements, music publishers are responsible for finding users for a song, issuing licenses for its use and giving a portion of the money collected to the songwriter. In exchange, authors will sign over a portion of the revenue generated by the song to the publisher. Authors also often will sign over a portion of their copyright in the song to the publisher (a publishing agreement). The portion of the author's copyright signed over in publishing agreements can vary, but is often around 50%. Under publishing adminsitration agreements, the author generally will not sign over a portion of the copyright. Instead, they will merely grant the right to administer the publication of their work for a specified period of time.
The author of a work is, in principle, the primary owner of copyright over their work. However, an employer can own rights over the works of its employee if 3 conditions are met:
- The existence of an employment contract
- The creation of a work in the course of employment
- The absence of a contract stipulating otherwise
What is a valid contract?
In Quebec, a contract is an agreement between at least two people, which is intended to be legally binding. Generally, in order for a contract to be valid, the contract and its formation process must respect the following fundamental principles: (1) each party must have consented willfully to the contract; (2) each party must have acted in good faith during the negotiations leading up to the contract and the effects to each party created in the contract must not be unreasonably excessive; and (3) the contract must not violate a rule of public order.