I have a concern regarding buying a song from an independent/amateur music artist. How can I demonstrate, if needed, that he actually sold that song to me and agreed to let me use his work for commercial purposes?! What if he decides, for a reason or another, to screw me saying that he didn't gave me authorizations?

The transaction etc. is made entirely online.

Thank you.


You will need a written contract signed by both him and you. Print it, sign it, send it to him by snail mail, tell him to sign it, and have him send it back by snail mail.

Ask your lawyer to write such a contract.

When you don't want to use snail mail and stay completely electronic, ask your lawyer if it might work in your jurisdiction to print the contract, sign it and scan it with the signature.

You don't have a lawyer? Get one. The moment you start making business with 3rd parties you need one.

When you really want to avoid paying a lawyer (a decision which might bite you back later) you can still try to draft your own contract. Contracts are still valid when not written by legal professionals. But they will be treated as if they were, so you need to be really careful with what you write. When anyone decides to sue the other party, the contract will be interpreted word-for-word not by what you actually meant. Important information it requires:

  • When, how, and how much do you pay him?
  • Which song exactly do you get the rights to?
  • What rights exactly?
    • For what purposes?
    • Just this project or any further projects?
    • For how long?
    • Exclusive / non-exclusive?
    • Are you allowed to edit it?
  • (important!) What happens when the artist doesn't actually have the full rights to the song and a 3rd party sues you which claims the song violates their rights?
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty informative, thank you very much. Sorry for bothering you more, but this created new concerns too. I'm living in Switzerland and he is from France. We use English to comunicate, but I don't think I'll be able to find a lawyer here able to write a contract for me in Française. Maybe this is irrelevant?! Can I just use English? What about websites like Deviantart or Pond5, they provide some sort of licence (free or commercial) when it comes to transactions. A user can decide if their work would be commercial free or non. Those doesn't counts? \$\endgroup\$ – Newbie Aug 22 '15 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Newbie I am not a lawyer, but I believe the language should not matter as long as both sides understand it well enough to understand what they are agreeing to. I am not familiar with the licensing system of Deviantart or Pond5, so I can not say anything about them specifically. But when someone puts something online and says "X license conditions apply to this work", then those license conditions are practically a licensing contract with the whole world, so you can use it under these conditions. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Aug 23 '15 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's perfect, you've saved me a lot of troubles. Thanks \$\endgroup\$ – Newbie Aug 23 '15 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Newbie Wait, did you just say you can't find a lawyer who speaks French in Switzerland? It's one of the official languages there, so I'm kinda surprised by that. \$\endgroup\$ – uliwitness Aug 23 '15 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Contrary on what's common belief, those languages (Schweizerdeutsch, Italian and French) are separated from each other. In my 'area' (canton) we all speak Schweizerdeutsch, it's rare ( less rare compared to other places tho, of course ) to find someone that speaks those other languages. It's more common to find a clerk that speaks English rather than one of the other official tongues. I can be lucky, but if I'm not, then it's a 5-6 hour train trip..10-12 total : /. It's a trip I prefer to avoid \$\endgroup\$ – Newbie Aug 24 '15 at 6:55

You have to state you will become owner of tracks and all copyrights and creative rights will be assigned to you. In such case the producer will transfer all his'/her' rights to you. Very important is that you agree on a flat fee and there will be no payments afterwards as all rights are bought by you in this deal.

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I've worked on a lot of projects, online, with 8 years of experience making music for video games and as a music producer. Most of the time, I sign a contract where I scan my signature, and send the document back with my signature. I've never had any problems.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Reading this answer in greater context, it appears to be commentary towards another answer, but does not directly answer the actual question. If you wish to answer, consider taking consideration towards the actual question (even if it is brief). \$\endgroup\$ – Gnemlock Oct 15 '16 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You never had problems because in case of a copyright dispute you as the copyright giver would be the one causing it. And in that case you would be the one who benefits from the contract being invalid, as it would give you grounds to sue for copyright infraction. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Oct 15 '16 at 17:08

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