Invoice Terms

Here are some examples of the invoice terms that should accompany your invoice:

Invoice is payable upon receipt. License usage rights are transferred upon full payment of this invoice. Failure to make payments voids any license granted and constitutes copyright infringement. All rights not specifically granted in writing, including copyright, remain the exclusive property of Louis Lesko.

Invoice is payable upon receipt. A late charge of 1.5% per month will apply after 7 days. License usage rights are transferred upon full payment of this invoice. Failure to make payments voids any license granted and constitutes copyright infringement. All rights not specifically granted in writing, including copyright, remain the exclusive property of Louis Lesko.

Let's go through these examples point by point.

I love the look of the phrase "payable upon receipt" when I see it on my outgoing invoices. If gives me a wonderfully false sense of hope that I'll get paid quickly. Unfortunately this is a business where getting paid is almost as difficult as getting the job in the first place. By far, the worst offenders for slow payments are the editorial companies (magazine clients). Their budgets are usually miniscule. They don't pay advances. And you typically don't see your money until 30 days after publication. Which, depending where you come in on the editorial schedule, could mean two to five months.

Corporate and direct clients usually pay pretty quickly, and ad agencies can be somewhere in between to downright fast depending on how well your invoice submission conforms to their standards. By that I mean, do you have all receipts organized, and so

In 22 years I have never, ever collected a late charge. Honestly, if your payment is so late that you're calculating your late charge bonus, you should probably be talking to a collection agent instead. When you come right down to it, you have to think about whether or not you want to make those kind of waves and upset your client enough that they completely take you out of contention for any future work. (There's more on this in the "Late Fees and Collecting Your Money" section of Chapter 9.) But the line sure does look tough and sexy doesn't it?

"Failure to make payments voids any license granted and constitutes copyright infringement. "This is the most powerful line in your invoice terms. If your client does not pay you in a reasonable amount of time and they are actively using your image, they are in violation of copyright law. This is a nice leveraging point if things get nasty.

Finally, the last line of the paragraph above mirrors the one in the bid terms. But it bears repeating because it is one of the most important concepts of your career. Do not give up the rights to the out-takes of your shoot. Your usage license will only cover a specific number of images to be displayed in specific media in specific geographic locations. You are the copyright holder to any other image from the shoot. Although it may seem wrong to assume that, and some art buyers/directors will try to make you believe otherwise—don't give in. The additional images from the shoot could be worth more money.

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