Re: Binding arb clause in new contract--unfair?!

Subject: Re: Binding arb clause in new contract--unfair?!
From: Ginna Watts <gwatts -at- PIM -dot- BC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 15:36:28 -0800

Roger Mallett wrote...
<snip>The art of negotiating a contract applies to all customers you may be
>serving, not just agencies.
>Never be intimidated. No one will ever be offended by you wanting terms
>changed to protect you. In fact you will look more professional, you
>will seem to be someone who knows what they want and can get it (a value
>added trait).

I can't agree more. I thought contracts were more or less inviolable (accept
or reject) until I worked at a literary agency. Since then, I've learned the
truth - everyone is out to see what they can get.

Everything is negotiable. I usually have a mental list going into each
negotiation - what I'm hoping for, and what the deal breakers are. (Think
hard about these.) Then I ask for everything. The key however is to come up
with SPECIFIC alternatives.

"Well, I won't sign this as it stands, but if you change clause X to read
'blah blah blah', then I will." It doesn't really help much to go back and
say - "this sucks and I won't be a part of it'. Ideally, you would just mark
up the contract, initial the changes and send it back to them (unsigned) for
approval. They would then add (or not) their initials to the changes, and
everyone is happy.

The agency won't accept every change, but the negotiations will also give
you a pretty good idea of their mindset. Sometimes these clauses are just
CYA lawyer speak, and the individuals might be happy to make an exception
for you. Or they really are sleazy, and now you know for sure. Note that
many contract are "blanket" - one publisher's standard 'one-size-fits-all'
contract included theme park rights. (We let 'em have them.) Give the agency
a chance before you walk.

I have successfully negotiated for changes in my VISA cardholder agreement,
so I firmly believe that any and every contract is open.

Ginna Watts - Technical Writer
Pacific International Mapping
Victoria, BC
(250) 727-0727
gwatts -at- pim -dot- bc -dot- ca

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