Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do you not do contracts because legalize isn't your thing? Then you should contract( ) ('Do Contract')!

gamasutra - announcing contract( ), a free builder for plain English agreements

Legalese is for attorneys. contract( ) is for game developers.

contract( ) (pronounced ‘do contract’) generates free, plain English agreements for and between game developers. It’s based on the idea that developers do not need legalese to come to an agreement or to resolve a disagreement.

After many iterations on contract( ), using feedback from experienced game developers and attorneys, I’m super excited to announce that contract( ) is now ready for public use. What started as a homemade tool to quickly make agreements between me and my collaborators, quickly developed into a full-fledged agreement builder that anyone can use. The builder currently includes templates for defining the work per project or per milestones, templates for giving out IP rights, and templates for compensation through a fixed fee, fixed rate, per milestone, or through revenue share.




What you need to know about contract( )

contract( ) offers a free agreement, using common language, covering most things you want to agree on before working together with someone in the games industry. contract( ) is based on the idea that two people or two companies do not need legal talk to come to an agreement or to resolve a disagreement.

For the sake of simplicity and clarification, contract( ) tries not to use the specific terminology of the laws of your country or state. Several attorneys have reviewed contract( ) to make sure it doesn't conflict with most country- or state-specific laws.

A legal document without legal talk?

The law is very advanced in handling situations between people or companies. When an attorney writes a legal document, he tries to match the terminology of those laws so that they connect one-to-one and make sure that the agreement is enforceable. However, this does not mean that a document with a different terminology is automatically invalid.

Every written agreement you make can be considered a legal document, even if your agreement is two sentences on a napkin. In case you and the contractor get into a disagreement and decide to take it to court (which is uncommon), much of the conversation in court will be about what is what, and only sections of the agreement that are very unclear or in direct conflict with country- or state-specific laws may be held unenforceable.

Country-specific laws?


In short: while contract( ) is designed to cover most cases, it is also designed to be short and straight forward. Be aware that contract( ) therefore still relies on local laws for a number of things like those listed above.

A personal note

contract( ) is my attempt to transfer my experience, but also the experiences of dozens of other developers and attorneys, to other game developers. I (Adriaan de Jongh) use the agreements from contract( ) myself, and feel that this is the only way to make it as unbiased, practical, honest, but also as legit as possible. I'm not responsible for your agreements with others, but I do not want to push anyone into an agreement I would not want to be in myself.

In the end, contract( ) isn't legal advice because that's exactly what it tries to avoid. If you wish to cover any of the legalese mentioned earlier, or want to know what the law provides if cases are not included in contract( ) agreements, hire a qualified attorney-at-law from your country or state to go over the agreement from contract( ) before signing it.

Attorneys recommended by other developers

In case you feel that this agreement does not fit your needs...


Made by & thanks to

contract( ) was made by game designer Adriaan de Jongh with the help of dozens of experienced game developers and attorneys. I have been in numerous tricky situations with contractors, IP transfers, and publishers, and found that it was never the legal talk that saved my relationship with a collaborator or contractor, but rather the inclusiveness of the contract: a contract in common language, simple and straightforward, can serve an equally good purpose if it reflects the conversation between two parties rather than the conversation between two attorneys.


Something new and different and not something I'd usually share, but I think many of you will like, or might be able to use. Personally, thinking about "doing a contract" makes my... well... um... errr.... well, makes me not feel well... Now, make sure you read and understand this, but worse case, it's a great starting point!

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