Singer Dev: Contract for 75 percent of income in perpetuity is “onerous”

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Miami readers might remember the song “In the Dark” that was all over the radio last fall. The singer behind that song, Dev, recently made the news again, but this time it wasn’t for another hit. It’s because she is suing her label, Indie-Pop, for what she claims is an unconscionable contract.

The contract, which Dev signed at 18, give Indie-Pop 75 percent of Dev’s merchandising rights, touring income, publishing income and worldwide copyrights in perpetuity. Dev claims she was not given independent counsel and was pressured into signing the contract. The agreement has apparently been amended once, but is still “onerous, one-sided” and “should be null and void.”

These sorts of contracts are starting to pop up in the entertainment industry, especially among singers. Internet piracy could be to blame. As companies lose more and more of their business to people downloading songs, books and movies to their Kindles, laptops and smartphones, they are looking for other sources of income.

A weakness of Dev’s argument might be that she claims she was “showered with flattery and praise” and was presented the contract as if it were a hot business opportunity that she would not want to have sit too long. Those are pretty common tactics that are not illegal.

One way to make sure the contract you are signing is not disadvantageous to you is to make sure you have an attorney whom you trust at your side. Attorneys act as advocates and will look out for your interests. We often work with clients who are in contract negotiations. You can check out our Contract Disputes to learn more.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Pop Singer Dev Sues To Void ‘Onerous’ Record Contract,” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 1, 2012