What Is a Non-Exclusive Contract?

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According to American Songwriter, a non-exclusive contract allows a second party to publish or distribute intellectual or creative work, but it does not prohibit the owner of the work from selling her work to other vendors. Non-exclusive contracts are generally used to prevent an individual from being locked into a restrictive contract before their work gains popularity.

American Songwriter explains that non-exclusive contracts protect artists from being taken advantage of in the early stages of their work while allowing them to get their products out to a larger audience. Although this type of contract is frequently seen in artistic industries, especially the music industry, it is not uncommon in other professional fields.

Non-exclusive publishing contracts have become an increasingly popular option in the writing industry, as well. Wheatmark discusses the importance of having the option to sign up with a larger company for marketing and promotional benefits without signing over the rights to a written work for the remainder of its life.

Unknown authors make deals with publishers before their work is known, driving down their pay. Without a non-exclusive contract, this low rate of pay remains in effect for a given work even after content creators become famous. Non-exclusive contracts allow authors to spread their work to publishers who reach a broader audience than the author is able to on her own, explains Wheatmark. Authors gain popularity this way without losing control of their work or their profits in the future.