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Introduction to book-publishing contracts

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

At our law firm, we are well versed in legal and practical issues that come up in the negotiation of book-publishing agreements. We represent book authors as well as publishers throughout the process of publishing-contract drafting, review and negotiation

As with players in any industry, each party needs to make a fair profit for its efforts and risks assumed, and each needs its own kind of protection. Historically, publishing houses have held relatively unequal bargaining strength as compared with individual authors.

Nowadays, small or non-traditional but agile publishers are gaining a foothold in the industry, permitting them to compete for local and national authors and creating a different balance-of-power playing field. 

In addition, technological advances like electronic reading platforms complicate book publishing rights. 

Common terms 

While each negotiation has its own issues because of the uniqueness of the participants, certain terms unique to book publishing must be addressed in every contract. For example: 

  • Advances
  • Royalties
  • Important dates such as date of author delivery, payments, ready for market and others
  • Territorial and foreign-language translation rights
  • Marketing and promotional expectations
  • Copyright ownership, registration, and enforcement
  • Subsidiary rights to spin-off products like audio books, serial versions, paperbacks, film, television, and others
  • Governing state law
  • And many more 

Whether you are an author or a publisher, it is wise and important to consult an attorney with experience in book-publishing agreements to advocate for your rights and interests throughout the negotiation process.

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