1. Freethesea
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    Freethesea Member

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    Time limit for publisher's rights?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Freethesea, Aug 10, 2016.

    Does anyone out there in Writersville have information on how long a publisher has the exclusive rights to a book? Is there a general time limit that is imposed for books that are no longer in print?
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You may find your answer here. But from reading through the article, my guess is that it depends on the specific book.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Totally depends on the contract. A lot of smaller publishers have a term from 3-7 years. Often the bigger publishers want life-of-copyright, but there's usually an equivalent of the "out of print" clause (because e-books never really go out of print) related to a sales threshold. So if your book sells less than, say, 100 copies a year, it'll be deemed out of print and the rights will revert to the author. Again, though, it'll depend on the individual contract.
     
  4. Freethesea
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    Freethesea Member

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    Sack-a-doo! You came through!

    Thanks for the link. I had some paperbacks published when I was quite young. They're not bad stories but they definitely need a rewrite and when I finally opened one (in print) I cringed. I feel the need to fix them. There was a rumor going around that after a couple of decades (ouch in admitting that one) the rights can revert back to the author.

    Then there's the problem of getting them onto the computer instead of manually feeding. But between current writing projects (instead of mindless web surfing) it seems worth it to work on the idea.

    Anyway, back to you Sack-a-doo!

    Thanks for looking up the link. Although I was researching on my own, I did not come up with anything solid.

    Big giant thumbs up Sir!
     
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  5. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Quotes from Wikipedia: In the United States, all books and other works published before 1923 have expired copyrights and are in the public domain. In addition, works published before 1964 that did not have their copyrights renewed 28 years after first publication year also are in the public domain"." and "If the author has been dead more than 70 years, the work is in the public domain in most, but not all, countries."" Does that help?
     
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  6. Freethesea
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    Freethesea Member

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    Hi BayView! Thanks so much for your input. These books were published before e-books hit. I'm not sure of how many copies were actually sold. After a nice advance however, I did see royalties so it was more than a 100. But I was young, and did not pay attention to these details. Other pursuits quickly pushed writing to the side and the typewriter went into the closet. I'm not sorry for the decisions I made because they were necessary ones.

    But I did miss writing. Very Much.


    Talk about a change in the landscape!! I'm reeling over everything that's expected from writers these days. Platforms, followers, social presence and on and on...However, this self publishing thing sure is interesting.

    Thanks BayView for your reply! I had given up hope on answers.
     
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  7. Freethesea
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    Freethesea Member

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    ummmm no. But it's interesting. Thanks for the input though. Maybe I can steal some stuff from our writing forefathers who have been away for 71 years. Not a bad idea actually.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Do you still have the original publishing agreement? Is the publisher still around?
     
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  9. Freethesea
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    Steerpike, Thanks for your help. Unfortunately I do not have the original contract. If the sale happened today, I'd keep the copy in one form or another, forever. But too much water has passed under that bridge and it's gone, gone, gone. I believe the publishing house has been purchased..twice.

    Looking into the company is a good suggestion. Do you know if the sale of publishing companies would affect old contracts?
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Typically, if one company is acquired by the other, the acquiring entity is going to acquire the publishing rights &c. that belonged to the company they are buying. If you're buying a publishing company, a substantial amount of the value being acquired could be tied up in those agreements. However, if the original agreement between the author and publisher limits sale or assignment of rights (which is doubtful, but who knows), then that could impact this. If the original company is out of business and the work out of print, I might very well just take my chances and move forward, if it were me.
     
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  11. Freethesea
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    Thanks Steerpike. The company has been acquired so that's a no go. But, I'm thinking of going forward anyway. Maybe changing things around a little. Or perhaps propelling the stories into the 2016 (a couple decades later) under a slightly different title. Movies have remakes...Could a book have a remake? What would that be called?

    Seriously, I can't imagine anyone would even notice. I hate insurance because it's a business built on fear. They're betting for you (knowing that your chances of an accident are slim because your driving record is so sterling) and you're betting against yourself (suspecting that someday you'll press the gas instead of the brakes, run over a little old lady, her dog,sixteen grandchildren, then spiral out of control into oncoming traffic where you slam into a gas truck that explodes and levels L.A). Gotta have liability!

    I think I'm doing that now. Trying to put insurance on something that will probably never happen.
     
  12. Freethesea
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    Steerpike, thanks again for helping me through a thinking process. I should clarify. The idea that a publisher would notice or even care, is the part that will probably never happen.

    However, I'm going to take a chance and tackle a rewrite on the side. I think.
     
  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Leave them be. You wrote something in your twenties - now you're looking back. Why not celebrate the flaws a little & loosen up.

    Be a real player x.
     
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  14. Freethesea
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    Hi Matwoolf and thanks for your input.
    Barely early twenties... so I would only be celebrating being at the right place at the right time. But I understand what your advising and it does give a ring of freedom. However a second problem forms. What if by some lightening-strike miracle, I sell my new manuscript which I've written with much greater care and effort than those first stories of old, and people google my name. They find the old stuff and well..celebrating might not work for everyone.

    Also, I was hoping you could provide another clarification. What exactly is a "real player x" as in your own definition?
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are any of your old books available online? Or are you worried about reviews being found, or...?
     
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  16. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    oh..'real player,' and then a hug, or some expression of whimsy, play, scruff rub of head, probably not lips kissing x
     
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  17. Freethesea
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    Thanks Matwoolf..super clear and friendly. So writers write. Isn't that a real player?

    Ohhhhh. You mean like making real money kind of players-players. That would be much harder.
     
  18. Freethesea
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    BayView. The reviews were okay. Yes, they are online and when I buy them, another one will pop up the next day, as well as the price. If I could get my hands on all of them, that would be great. It appears I'm not the only one who's ever tried to buy all their past celebrations back. Since these books are out of print noone would ever now how absolutely fabulous they were but me. :rolleyes:
    If anyone has any experience with this that would be great to hear how they did it.
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    No worries, @Freethesea. You're very welcome.

    Two things...

    Have you contacted the original publisher about reverting rights? After 20 years, they'll likely just give them back.

    And second, if you have a scanner and a copy of Acrobat Pro, you can scan the pages of your paperback and load them into Acrobat. There's an option for joining a bunch of scanned images (which is what your pages will be) into one document. Then you can Save As... and it'll convert the file to a Word doc. There'll be lots of corrections to make (optical character recognition still isn't all that great) but you'll have the basis for an editable document. You'll also have to fix all your paragraph breaks, but if you do one short story at a time, you won't go too nuts. :)
     
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  20. Freethesea
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    Freethesea Member

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    No, you're very welcome. THANKS.

    Yikes! That is great information Sack-a-doo!
     
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  21. Freethesea
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    Freethesea Member

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    QUOTE="matwoolf, post: 1476626, member: 36860"]Leave them be... Why not celebrate the flaws a little & loosen up.

    I had to slip away for a few days but I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to answer my questions. That was surprisingly self sacrificing, kind, and definitely appreciated! Hopefully I'll be able to repay the favor...
     
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