Introduction to Quitclaims
Quitclaims are legal tools used by producers and creators to ensure that someone or something has given up certain rights in a property. For example, say you are a producer and a great script lands on your desk (or inbox). The creator tells you that it was previously developed by another producer who has since lost interest and is no longer involved. One way to ensure the former producer no longer has any claims to the project is for the former producer to sign a quitclaim.
A quitclaim requires the former producer to give up their rights to the project. One way to describe the effect of a quitclaim is that the former producer “releases, transfers, assigns, abandons, and quitclaims all rights to the project, including, but not limited to, all right, title, claim, demand, and interest in and to the project” as of the relevant date to the relevant person. It may also be appropriate for the former producer to confirm that they are not entitled to any further revenues from the exploitation of the project.
Customization of Quitclaims
A quitclaim may be an element of a larger agreement, or it may be an exclusive agreement with respect to the confirmation that rights are given up. A former producer may require certain conditions be attached to a quitclaim before they sign it. Perhaps the former producer requires specific compensation if the project proceeds with someone else.
If you are a creator or producer entering into a quitclaim it is important to consider what conditions you may want to attach in the event the quitclaim becomes relevant days, months, or years later. If a creator receives a quitclaim from a former producing partner, but needs a more comprehensive quitclaim in future, the former producer may try to take advantage by requesting payment in order to sign the new and improved quitclaim. As such, it’s important to get everything you need in a quitclaim the first time.
Chain of Title and Quitclaims
When a lawyer prepares a chain of title opinion in order for a project to obtain financing, they may discover gaps in the chain. For example, people who may have contributed intellectual property to a project may or may not have assigned their rights to the proper person. A simple agreement that incorporates a quitclaim, a transfer of rights and a waiver of moral rights, may be a quick and simple solution to ensure your chain of title is complete and “clean”.
How can an Entertainment Lawyer Help?
We can help if you’re being asked to sign a quitclaim and want to have it reviewed, or if you think you might need one prepared.
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Updated to November 16, 2020
Edwards Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film and TV, and Interactive Digital Media industry clients. For more info and blogs, please visit www.edwardslaw.ca
Regarding music law, Byron Pascoe works with musicians, producers, managers, and music companies to assist with record label agreements, publishing contracts, distribution deals, producer agreements, etc.
© 2020 Edwards Professional Corporation
* This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.