Faustian Pacts: Teaching Students About Creative Contracts


Learning about contracts can be daunting for students for obvious reasons – the language of contracts is often, in fact, actively exclusionary. But like learning the principles of self-assessment and tax, I think it’s incredibly important to empower anyone choosing to make a living from music, the arts, or film – so that they fully understand the agreements they’re expected to sign.  When you can take a layman’s stab at writing your own music, publishing or film contracts; or confidently fill out your self-assessment form; or simply know where to get cheap help from, it leaves you free to spend more time creating and doing what you love.

My first lesson on contracts, however, always covers that most obvious of rules – always read what you sign. Which is why I like to trick my students into signing a Faustian pact that gives me – forever – full copyright and royalties in their ideas. You just have to be clever with the signature page, and of course don’t reveal what they’ve signed until the end of the lesson.  Divvy horror movie font optional.