For people working in the creative economy, securing a contract with a sponsor or agency can be a major turning point. But, how to wade through the legal jargon and avoid signing away all of your rights?
“I don’t think you should have to go to law school in order to understand what contract you’re signing,” says Elizabete Ludborza, who recently co-founded legal tech firm Kaveat.
The firm’s legal software platform, helps content creators, influencers and models to unpack and highlight the legal implications of a contract. Ludborza says: “We explain what the legal jargon means, and the implications of actually accepting that job on their end.”
The hope is that equipped with this information, creatives feel empowered to negotiate for appropriate compensation before signing.
Ludborza, who has Latvian and Lithuanian origins, grew up in Luxembourg before studying law at the University of Warwick, in the UK, Monash University in Australia, and Cornell, in the US. A content creator and micro-influencer herself, she saw first-hand the kinds of one-sided, unfavourable contracts used in the creative industries.
“On the influencer side of things, people don’t realise that they can get compensated more for renegotiating a clause, for example, intellectual property and usage rights,” the entrepreneur says.
The tech entrepreneur has also been a victim of sneaky practices. She recounted the time when she was surprised to find her image on a series of Facebook adverts taken out by a sponsor.
“We’ve spoken to countless people who say they’ve seen their face on a huge billboard and were not compensated for this.”
By far the worst practices are found in modelling. “There are clauses saying that the model assigns all permission to the agency to do and accept anything on her own behalf without seeking permission. That is really predatory and should not be the case,” Ludborza says.
The startup, which is based out of New York, is run by Ludborza as COO, and two other female founders: Dorothee Grant and Christine Shen.
Kaveat launched a beta in 2022 that uses proprietary and fully functioning NLP technology, developed by the team.
“We are focusing on building a community on our social media and a lot of people ended up being our beta users,” Ludborza says. The team is also now in discussion with talent agencies to promote the product among its clients.
“We’ve spoken to countless people who say they’ve seen their face on a huge billboard and were not compensated for this.”Elizabete Ludborza, COO Kaveat
This year, Kaveat received $100,000 in investment from Cornell Tech and recently raised an undisclosed sum from Scale VC, an accelerator fund and venture studio, investing in founders first and accelerating access to networks, knowledge, and resources across North America. It is currently raising pre-seed for further product development. “We are not providing legal advice, we are just explaining the contracts. However, our goal is to connect users to a specialised lawyer who is actually able to help them.”
Ludborza also hopes in future to expand the platform to open a European hub. “I visited in September and attended the Silicon Luxembourg Founders Breakfast and found it super useful connecting with the eco-system here,” she said, adding: “I would love for Luxembourg to be one of the places for us to open in.”