In a new feature on contracts, attorney Jovan Johnson discusses a client who lost significant income because he failed to properly secure the rights to the work of contributors to his project.
"Making sure your intellectual property ('IP') paperwork is complete will help prevent needless ownership challenges," Johnson writes.
"Have all of your employees and contractors, including artists, voice actors, and musicians, signed over their rights to you? If not, they need to sign work-for-hire / assignment agreements saying that they are transferring these rights to you."
What are the consequences of not getting your ducks in a row here? "My partner and I consulted with a gentleman who launched a successful entertainment project. Although his profit share should have been $165k, he was going to wind up with zero because the ownership provision in the artist agreement he created was flawed. His ownership interest in the project, along with his profit, would have been fine if he hired a good attorney to create the agreement," Johnson writes.
With many developers currently relying on the work of outside contractors for the completion of their games, this is a serious issue.
The full feature, in which Johnson cites more examples from clients and covers many of the relevant legal issues bound to crop up in publisher contracts, is live now on Gamasutra.