It’s a lawyer’s job to foresee all possibilities.
And if they don’t feel like they can predict everything that may happen in the future, they draft the broadest possible language and hope for the best.
The Wall Street Journal highlights the lengths to which lawyers are now going — and it’s basically to infinity and beyond.
WSJ: Lawyers for years have added language to some contracts that stretches beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. But more and more people are encountering such everywhere-and-forever language as entertainment companies tap into amateur talent and try to anticipate every possible future stream of revenue.
Experts in contract drafting say lawyers are trying to ensure that with the proliferation of new outlets — including mobile-phone screens, Twitter, online video sites and the like — they cover all possible venues from which their clients can derive income, even those in outer space.
Read the entire article, which is both funny and informative, here.
Several of the contracts discussed contain amusing and all-encompassing language. Here are some highlights:
- From a contract for guests on a PBS station: I agree [to]…make use of any incidents of my life in any and all editions of the Project…and to reproduce and publish the same throughout the universe in perpetuity, in any and all media now known or hereinafter devised…”
- From a contract with Lucasfilm Ltd.: If…you send us creative suggestions…[they] shall be deemed and shall remain the property of Lucas in perpetuity. By making any Submission, the sender automatically grants…Lucas the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right…throughout the universe and/or to incorporate it…in any form….now known or hereafter developed, for the full term of any copyright…”
- A contract a Pickle company uses with banks: Spicy Pickle is released form all claims “from the beginning of time…”
Lawyers disagree — as lawyers do — about the necessity of such language. One lecturer at Penn’s law school suggested such references to space and time are silly, the WSJ says. On the other hand, it’s not “inconceivable that media will move beyond planet Earth,” Jacquelyn Thomas, a lawyer for the PBS station that uses the above contract language, says.
This is the sort of thing people hate lawyers for, but making sure a media company is covered when it wants to play a hologram video on whatever Twitter 2.0 is just good lawyering. Of course, that does little to help the person in that hologram video who signed away his rights for as long as the earth exists.
Some always live longer and prosper more than others.
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