Q&A: Reversion of Rights

Q.   I wrote my (ex) publisher asking for reversion of my rights for my out of print books. The time period specified in the contract has passed and I still haven’t heard back. I sent an email referencing the letter and my request and got no response to that, either. In that email I said that the lack of a response made me assume the rights were now mine. Is this sufficient?  A.   If you...

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Author’s Guild Lawsuit

The Author’s Guild has become quite litigious in recent years.  The Guild’s lawsuit against Google for its Google Books project continues, and will go to trial sometime next year.  Meanwhile, the Guild, along with Australian and Canadian authors’ organizations and eight individual authors, has filed another high-profile lawsuit, this time against the HathiTrust, a partnership of major research...

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Legal Issues In Agency Agreements

Many authors are unaware of legal issues in agency agreements that can be traps for the unwary unless their implications are fully understood.  They come under three broad headings, what I call the Exclusive Agency, the Forever Agency. and the Powerful Agency:            1.  The “Exclusive” Agency.  Typically in an agency agreement, the author makes the agent his “sole and exclusive...

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Q&A: International Copyright

Q.   Is my U.S. copyright valid in other countries?  If not, how do I gain copyright protection in another country? A.   In most foreign countries, your U.S. copyright will be protected without any additional steps, despite the fact there exists no true “international copyright.”  Historically, each country has had its own system for protecting intellectual property rights such as copyright,...

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Q&A: Interpretations of Historical Events

Q.  May I use another author’s interpretations of historical events in my novel? A.  This question can be important to authors of historical thriller and mysteries.  In the case of Crane v. Poetic Products, Ltd. (S.D. NY 2009), a federal district court was presented with this very issue.  The dispute involved an allegation that a play (The Last Confession) based on the death of Pope John Paul I...

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The Agency Agreement

For many writers the first milestone to publication is the holy Finding of The Agent.   Agents have become the screeners and gatekeepers for major publishing houses, and receiving an offer of representation from an agent is certainly cause for celebration.  At that magical time, you will be presented with your agent’s “standard” agreement for signature.  The first step in evaluating the...

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