1. Enerzeal
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    Enerzeal Member

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    Who owns the rights to a fantasy setting?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Enerzeal, Nov 24, 2011.

    My intention is to create a world in which my stories are written. The links that would exist between two stand alone stories would be setting and history. They might reference things that have happened in other books but would have no specific effect upon the plot. Forgotten Realms D&D setting is an example. They have many novels that have been published that reference lore but are written by a plethora of different novelists.

    When I sell the publishing rights to a publisher do I give up the rights to create more books that live inside that world until the advance is paid off? Would I need to continue working with the same publisher with permissions to create more stories within that world?

    Does copyright of the world I create eternally remain with me so that I am free to write in the world and publish with different companies with no repercussions?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on your contract with the publisher. Sticking with the D&D example, Ed Greenwood, creator of forgotten realms, has no rights to that setting and can't write stories set in it except when writing for Wizards of the Coast.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    To continue Steerpike's example, I'm willing to say that it's likely Ed Greenwood would have been commissioned for his work.
    This would come under intellectual property lores. Since you're creating the world, it's your intellectual property, and is therefore yours.
     
  4. TemporalV01D
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    TemporalV01D Member

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    I doubt you'd need the publisher's permission to create more works set in your own literary universe - as it is your intellectual property, as cruciFICTION stated above - but I do think you'd need to get all works set in said universe out there with that same publisher (works set within the same fictional universe are often treated similarly to a series, as far as I'm aware).
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Depends. If you assign the IP to the publisher it is not yours anymore. Take Eberron, for D&D. Keith Baker created it for a contest; WotC now owns it and he can't write in it except through them.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Steerpike indicated, it depends on the contract. If it gives the publisher the right of first refusal to one or any subsequent novels set substancially in the first novel's world, then it could limit an author. There are some contracts that are worded very lopsided against an author. How long does the publisher have to respond, are they allowed to match a competing publisher's offer? If they accept, how long until does the publisher have to bring the second novel into print? Even a step further, are the two novels connected, such that any advance that is not earned out--the royalties for the second novel to toward paying that?
     
  7. TemporalV01D
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    TemporalV01D Member

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    Hmmmm... So intellectual property rights may no longer apply depending on the contract? That's potentially unfortunate...
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, it depends on the contract... which is why new authors are well advised to have their own literary attorney look over the contract before signing...
     

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