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    Contracts For Working With People Online
    Having joined many forums and being active in social media, I often come across people I want to work with, but up until this point I'm still very apprehensive about pushing through with it - mostly because of the lack of available legal action should a future situation call for it.

    Hiring workers such as writers or graphic designers are relatively easy, since there are websites dedicated for those services that pretty much take out as much of the risk involved as possible.

    I ask, however, for more "custom" circumstances, such as seeing a site or individual online that I like and I may want to partner up with whether for a joint venture or just even exchanging some resources like advertising, etc. Is there such a special type of contract that I can use to protect my business and finances as much as possible, especially when it comes to getting what I expect out of the partnership? Preferably a process that doesn't necessitate me having to travel to another country to meet with the person/company anymore.


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    Unfortunately much as you might sign such a contract. . .the complication is the jurisdiction. A contract signed and governed by the laws of one country, state, etc., would be invalid in another. So unless the person you want to work with resides in the same country or state as you, then you just have to take chances and work [with them] without any contract or just as matter of formality you could just go ahead and draft some kind of contract though it won't have legal force.

    If that would be too hard then your best option would be to work through a third party freelance outsourcing site until you're sure you can trust that person you want to partner up with.


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    I too would suggest using a freelancing website such as odesk. Their system is great! But of course, it's not free: they take 10% of each payment you make so either you are going to be paying more than agreed at first or he/she will be getting less.


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    If you are trying to find a contract that works in multiple countries, that can be difficult. There are so many laws and regulations in different countries that you would have to research each one individually and created contracts accordingly. That sounds like a lot of work, for what you are trying to achieve.

    What I would do is ask for references from your writers, graphic designers, and see feedback from people that have used their work in the past, and base your judgments on that.


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    For sites that do not offer assurance, you really have to have a contract with them so unless they can mail it to you or that you are on the same state, same country or that your country has jurisdiction over that country or extradition, then the only option is to sign a contract in their country. There are websites out there that offer protection and who offer great and honest services to their clients, you can Google it yourself and see the reputation of a website.


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    Yes, you can ask a freelancer to sign a contract...I have signed some myself over the years I have been in freelance writing. The issue comes down to enforcement. A contract doesn't stop someone from doing something that he or she shouldn't be doing as outlined in the contract. However, to sue someone for breach, you have to decide on the jurisdiction and then get the case into court and then try to have the judgement enforced. Large, multibillin dollar corporations do it all the time, but it's an expensive undertaking and one that shouldn't be taken lightly.


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    Well, working with someone who doesn't live in the same state as where you live is quite different, and it requires a lot in writings. I believe unless the person in which you would like to join and have the contract with lives in the same state, you might go without a contract because no way you can trust someone outside of the state, which has different laws and business practices. It's not always easy to have a contract with someone who's just met online, which I believe you would rather do it without a contract.


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    We being an outsourcing company ourselves have a hard time "enforcing" these contracts. You'd rather write it off than go legal. However still NDAs are good to have. The key to success is having "jurisdiction" mentioned in the contracts. Have the jurisdiction be a place most favourable to you.


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    Yes, I can attest to the fact that a written contract is hard to enforce if the two parties are located in different countries. I once did some freelance writing for a client in the UK that I had worked for previously. It was a rush job that was parceled out to a number of writers including me. The client is a large and quite well known firm, and they offered a relatively good fee but no advance payment (I normally ask for 33% or 50% upfront). I signed a contract and got on with the work, delivered it and was promised payment within 48 hours.

    Then I was told there had been a mixup and another writer had been assigned the same tasks as me, and because that person had delivered his work a few hours ahead of me they would not be paying me anything. I contacted a few different lawyers in the UK, and was told that although my client was acting in an unethical manner (and possibly illegally - but that would be up to a court) it would be difficult and expensive for me to take legal action against them.

    So I lost several days of my time, and a fee of close to $2000 because I am not in the UK. I trusted the client as I had already worked for them and been paid a couple of times, and I thought they had a reputation to maintain. From now on I will never accept a gig that doesn't come with an upfront payment, and an interim payment if appropriate, even if there is a contract as it is clearly so difficult to enforce cross-border contracts. Lesson learnt!


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    Quote Originally Posted by oregano View Post
    Yes, I can attest to the fact that a written contract is hard to enforce if the two parties are located in different countries. I once did some freelance writing for a client in the UK that I had worked for previously. It was a rush job that was parceled out to a number of writers including me. The client is a large and quite well known firm, and they offered a relatively good fee but no advance payment (I normally ask for 33% or 50% upfront). I signed a contract and got on with the work, delivered it and was promised payment within 48 hours.

    Then I was told there had been a mixup and another writer had been assigned the same tasks as me, and because that person had delivered his work a few hours ahead of me they would not be paying me anything. I contacted a few different lawyers in the UK, and was told that although my client was acting in an unethical manner (and possibly illegally - but that would be up to a court) it would be difficult and expensive for me to take legal action against them.

    So I lost several days of my time, and a fee of close to $2000 because I am not in the UK. I trusted the client as I had already worked for them and been paid a couple of times, and I thought they had a reputation to maintain. From now on I will never accept a gig that doesn't come with an upfront payment, and an interim payment if appropriate, even if there is a contract as it is clearly so difficult to enforce cross-border contracts. Lesson learnt!
    Wow. Sorry to hear about what happened to you, but thanks for sharing your story. I guess this just means I'll have to do the same or compromise and make the best of what is already available with the use of some already existing sites as a security measure. I think it's kind of a shame that we can't work internationally as efficiently yet, but hopefully in the future there will be some developments that would allow for us all to do so more conveniently and more securely.


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