Resources and Alerts from The Authors Guild

Posted: February 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Resources and Alerts from The Authors Guild

In addition to its useful resources for members including contract reviews, referrals, and other services, the Authors Guild also shares information about developments in publishing law and related matters with interested nonmembers via the Guild’s website. Two recent examples:

In the wake of the settlement in the Authors Guild v. Google action, the Authors Guild made a series of key documents available on its website, including a helpful distillation of the settlement agreement. More recently, after the announcement of the Kindle 2 by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the Guild advised caution for writers crossing the intersection of electronic and audio rights. Although this potential conflict has been on the radar of many of us who negotiate publishing contracts, the announcement of the forthcoming Kindle’s “text to speech” feature brought questions related to these rights into sharp relief.

Far from being a challenge to the right of individual readers to read aloud as some too-quick commentators alleged, the Guild’s alert was appropriate and appropriately swift, raising a legitimate concern about a matter that should be considered carefully, and not only by authors. I’m thinking of parties on both sides of the negotiation table. Authors, artists, and other contributors need to understand what rights they’re granting and what rights they’re reserving, and to do so mindfully and strategically. Publishers—especially those whose contract boilerplate has not been reviewed in a few years—need to consider what rights they need and how best to delineate those rights in the contracts on which their business rests.

Defining “out of print”

Posted: July 25th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

With an increasing number of options for print-on-demand (POD) and electronic publishing available to publishers and authors alike, it’s important for both to pay careful attention to the provisions in their contracts that define what conditions must exist for a work to be considered out of print and the rights subject to reversion.

These are perennial points of negotiation because the market for these formats is still evolving. Benedicte Page writes for today’s (UK) about how both sides are characterizing their concerns, with input from Random House UK and the Society of Authors.

In tandem with a careful evaluation of the out-of-print provision of their contracts, publishers and authors need to be aware of what rights have been granted, whether a publisher has the right to produce an electronic edition (and what forms of electronic editions), and whether there are any contractual barriers to publishing in POD or to licensing a work for a third party’s POD program. Provisions for reasonable royalty rates, or the ability to revisit the rates at appropriate times, are also key.