What is a contract?
Normally, a contract consists of voluntary promises between competent parties to do, or not to do, something, which the law will enforce. The details of the contract (who, how, what, how much, how many, when, and so on) are called its provisions or terms.
In other to create a contract, the parties must have
(a) “a meeting of the minds on a specific subject,” that is, they know and agree what specific assets and rights are being exchanged;
(b) the parties must have legal capacity to enter into an agreement; and
(c) the agreement must be supported by something of value bargained for between the participants or parties. The promise to deliver a 300 word article in exchange for a promise to pay $50 constitutes consideration for an agreement.
To be enforceable, some agreements must be in writing. Under copyright law, the complete transfer of copyright ownership, or granting an exclusive license, must be in writing. Your written agreement becomes your proof of what was agreed upon, and prevents someone from forgetting or changing the story later.
What if a party does not fulfill a promise made under the agreement? A party’s failure to fulfill an end of the bargain under a contract is known as “breaching” the contract. When a breach of contract happens (or at least when a breach is alleged) one or both of the parties may wish to have the contract “enforced” on its terms, or may try to recover for any financial harm caused by the alleged breach.
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