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Copyright assignment contract

Verified 12 April 2019 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister), Ministry of Culture and Communication

Copyright includes various forms of artistic and intellectual expression generally carried out by a specialist (for example, publisher or producer). The exploitation of these rights, whether they are assigned free of charge or for a fee, must be the subject of an assignment contract.

The publishing contract allows the author of a work of the mind (or his successors) to assign to a person (the publisher) the right to make copies of the work and to realize it in digital form. In return, the publisher must ensure the publication and dissemination of the material.

The contract of representation allows the author of a work of the mind (or his successors) to authorize a person (entertainer) to represent this work under conditions which it determines.

The audiovisual production contract (films) allows the producer to take the initiative and responsibility for the realization of the work.

The global transfer of exploitation rights in a future work is prohibited. Nevertheless, the author may grant a preferential right to the publisher for a specified number of books and for a specified period of time.

The assignment of copyright must be recorded in writing.

The contract of assignment shall mention:

  • the type of right assigned (including reproduction, representation, adaptation, dissemination);
  • the extent, destination, place and duration of exploitation of the assigned right;
  • the procedure for calculating and paying the assigned right.

The publishing contract must expressly specify the conditions for the digital exploitation of the assigned right.


where the right of exploitation of the work relates to a form not yet foreseeable or not provided for on the day of signature of the contract, a clause shall compulsorily indicate this and specify its scope.

The remuneration of the author shall in principle be proportional to the revenue from the sale or exploitation of the work. It must be fair and equitable.

The percentage shall be fixed freely by negotiation between the author and the beneficiary of the assignment on the basis of the sale price excluding tax of the work.

However, remuneration per package is permitted:

  • where proportional remuneration is not applicable (e.g. the calculation basis cannot be determined);
  • where the transfer of rights relates to a software;
  • for the publishing of specific works (scientific or technical, anthologies and encyclopedias, illustrations, prayer books in particular);
  • for the transfer of rights abroad;
  • for a work published in the press.

Where the remuneration is flat-rate, the author may request a revision of the contract prices if he has suffered damage of more than 7/12th of the real value of the assigned rights.

Digital exploitation of a work may not give rise to a lump sum payment.

Rights arising from works created by public officials (from the State, local authorities, public administrative institutions, independent administrative authorities or the Banque de France) are automatically transferred to the public person who employs them.

This transfer may only take place:

  • to the extent strictly necessary for the performance of a public service task;
  • when the work is created in the performance of the officer's duties;
  • for non-commercial holdings (right of preference to public persons for commercial holdings).

For software created by an employee in the performance of his duties or on the instructions of his employer, economic rights are automatically assigned to the employer.

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