Sign Here Please: The Basics of Contracts

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Contracts are part of the business. There are several things you need to consider before you sign a contract.

  1. It is important that you carefully read any contract presented to you.
  2. It is also helpful to have a lawyer review the contract and give you feedback concerning any amendments, additional clauses, or if a part of the contract is unbalanced.
  3. Contracts are always negotiable. You have the right to make changes or make additions to the contract. The publisher or manufacturer also has the right to accept or decline the changes. If they decline your changes, you have to decide if you’re comfortable signing the contract without the changes, if you want to try to negotiate, if you just need clarification, or if you want to walk away.
  4. Ask your questions before signing the contract, not after. After you’ve signed on the dotted line, you no longer have the legal right to make changes.

What do they mean when they talk about Rights?

Many magazines who published craft projects contract the projects with a First Rights agreement. This means that the publisher has the right to publish the design with instructions for the first time, and then the copyright of the project reverts back to the creator or designer. Other times, the publisher gets an All Rights contract meaning it owns that project in many forms which can include creating kits or publishing the project digitally. Either agreement means you need to contact the publisher to inquire if you are allowed to make and sell the design. Manufacturers usually want All Rights so that they fully own a design that allows them to use the design for many purposes including advertising, blog images, and project sheets for retailers.

Understanding what you’re agreeing to
In signing a contract you have entered a legal agreement, it is serious business and not something you should go into blindly. My advice is that if you feel uncomfortable about anything in a contract you need to settle your apprehension before signing. If you can’t get a satisfactory answer and still hear a tiny voice in your head saying, “I’m not too sure about this.” you should walk away rather than be bound by law to a commitment. No matter the size of your business, know the laws and understand all contracts!


By: Maria Nerius, Resident Craft Expert

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  1. nita says

    I enjoy all your articles.. I am considering going to start my own business and your info. is right on.Keep them coming.Thank you!

  2. Sue McGovern says

    I signed a 6 month rental contract but have fallen on hard times-is it possible to break contract

    • maggie says

      Hi Sue,

      Sorry, I don’t think I can help you with that. This article was specifically talking about design contracts with companies and business contracts.

      Good luck!

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