1. Pensario

    Pensario New Member

    Apr 7, 2008
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    Stratford, Canada

    Legal, protecting rights and usage

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Pensario, Apr 7, 2008.

    A client has been approached about publishing a version of his personal story (accident, recovery, lessons learned) by a publisher issuing a collection of such stories. This particular anecdote also figures heavily in my client's own self-published book.

    Can the publisher of the compilation exercise any right over my client's ability to tell his own story in other places and ways (such as his own book)? (The publisher's assurance is that only that exact version becomes his company's property.)

    Do you see cause to be skeptical?
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    It all depends on the contract the publisher offers and what the author negotiates and signs.

    What rights to the story is he selling (electronic, print, audio, etc.), and for what term?For example, usually when a novel or book goes out of print, the rights revert to the author...unless the contract states otherwise. Often an author grants the publisher the right to publish the story (novel), say granting First North American Print and Electronic rights. There may be a term or clause saying or defining when the term ends, such as out of print (and be sure what the definition of out of print is--POD can make that never), or if there is a clause where the author/publisher can exit the contract after so many years (2 or 3 is typical) with a 30 or 60 day written notice.

    Is there an anti-competition clause...such that the story cannot appear in any (certain) form or media for a certain time after publication of the story...or if ever.

    I know I provided more questions than answers, but those are what came to mind after reading the post.

    Hope it helps some.

  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    if this is something along the lines of the 'chicken soup for the soul' series of collected anecdotes, then it's a fairly common thing and, as the publisher claimed, only the exact piece of work being submitted will be purchased/published and can't be used again by the writer unless s/he's selling only 'first serial rights' which means it can be sold as a reprint later, dependent upon how long a period the contract states must elapse before doing so...

    that said, having an anecdote published would not keep the author from writing about the same incident in a different way/form, such as a novel, because ideas can't be copyrighted, only complete written works can... and in this case, he should just not use the exact same wording of the piece he's selling, in his future book...

    as terry notes, it all depends on the fine print of the contract... the only thing i'd be wary/skeptical about would be if the author is not paid for the piece and is asked or expected to purchase the book... in which case, it's a clear scam along the lines of the 'poetry.com' model...

    you say this is a 'client'... whose client?... yours?... what kind of client?... in what way are you advising this person?... what you should do, is advise him to consult a literary attorney, before signing any contract, if there's any confusion or doubt re the publisher's intentions... what is the name of the publisher?... have you checked them out at preditors & editors [ http://www.invirtuo.cc/prededitors/ ]?... that should be the first step... also check their website to see if they're legit or not... the scammers are often easy to spot... but the best and most reliable advice will be from an attorney, not folks on internet writing sites... and that includes moi-meme! ;-)

    love and hugs, maia

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