Agency Clauses in Publishing Agreements

An agency clause is a paragraph of legalese in your publishing agreement.  It gives your agent the right to collect all royalties (including advances) directly from the publisher.  The agent then deducts her commission from that amount, and sends the remainder to you.  The agency clause isn’t required by your publisher  —  it has no interest in where your royalties go, as long as it is...

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Agency Clauses

An agency clause is a paragraph of legalese in your publishing agreement.  It gives your agent the right to collect all royalties (including advances) directly from the publisher.  The agent then deducts her commission from that amount, and sends the remainder to you.  The agency clause isn’t required by your publisher  —  it has no interest in where your royalties go, as long as it is...

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The “Poor Man’s Copyright”

The Poor Man’s Copyright is one of those apocryphal ideas that almost, but not quite, rises to the status of urban legend (unfortunately, it’s not as scary as exploding toilets).  I have encountered many otherwise sophisticated authors who not only believe in this charming fantasy, but also practice it. Here’s the idea:  Whenever you send a submission to an editor or agent, you always should...

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The Forever Agency

I’ve written before about the legal traps in some agency clauses inserted into  publishing agreements.  Recently, a New York appeals court upheld the lower court decision in Peter Lampack Agency v. Martha Grimes, et al, a case that interprets these clauses favorably for authors. First, some background.  At one time, in a galaxy far far away, publishers paid royalties directly to an author, who...

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Public Domain Works

Every writer, fiction or nonfiction, should be familiar with a central tenet of copyright law: the doctrine of “public domain” work.  Public domain works are, simply, anything NOT protected by copyright.  Such works may be used freely by anyone without permission. The numerous changes Congress has made in the term of copyright duration, however, has made it difficult to determine the copyright...

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SOPA and PIPA

With the recent publicity about the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), it’s an opportune time to review the existing remedies for online copyright infringement in the United States (remedies for sites hosted in other countries are different, and beyond the scope of this article.) First, I recommend that all published authors routinely take the...

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