For a writer to reach a broad audience and monetize their original work, they usually must enter into contractual agreements with other parties who can provide the necessary services and resources to achieve the author’s goal. As the book publishing lawyer Los Angeles trusts, we negotiate, draft, and review publishing agreements and represent publishing companies, authors, and writers. We regularly advise clients with regard to eBook and multimedia ventures, helping them navigate new agreements and licenses.
We also negotiate a wide range of ancillary rights agreements to lock in innovative revenue streams, such as book-to-movie, book-to-video, book-to-audio, book-to-game, and other licensing and merchandising opportunities.
To formalize book publishing deals between publishing companies and writers, the parties have to agree upon the terms of their agreements within a legally binding contract. Listed below are some of the most frequent types of agreements we enter into on behalf of book industry clients.
Book Publishing Agreements
Book publishing agreements are the most common agreements into which authors and publishers enter. A book publishing attorney Beverly Hills relies on can guide either party with regard to best protecting their interests, as well as help them negotiate favorable terms. The scope of a book publishing agreement usually covers the following terms:
When two or more individuals want to collaborate on creating a book, it is important to clarify the contractual terms of the relationship before embarking on the endeavor. Especially when more than one party is involved, questions as to copyright may come into play. Just because there is more than one person writing a book does not necessarily mean that those parties are intended to be co-authors who jointly hold the copyright. Collaboration agreements often come into play between authors and illustrators, as well.
Absent any other binding agreement, the U.S. Copyright Act states that two or more writers who jointly create a final product will be considered co-authors and jointly hold the copyright. However, in a collaboration agreement, the parties may contract around this and specifically dictate who will own the work.
In a collaboration agreement, the most important terms to consider are:
If a celebrity or any other person wishes to engage the work of another individual to ghostwrite content on their behalf, they too need to be especially mindful of copyright issues that may arise. To avoid the legal assumption of co-authorship and jointly owned copyright, the individual seeking another person’s writing services and the intended ghostwriter can enter a work-for-hire agreement.
Under the terms of a work-for-hire contract, which should be signed before any writing occurs to preserve its validity, there are ways to ensure that the individual seeking the work is the one who retains the copyright. The Copyright Act allows work-for-hire agreements in book publishing if either an independent contractor authors the work or an employee authored the work within the scope of their employment.
The rules around works for hire are quite stringent in circumstances in which an independent contractor is producing the work product. The only types of work that may be commissioned by an independent contractor are translations, contributions to audio-visual work, contributions to a collective work, atlases, compilations, instructional text, tests, test answers, and work that supplements another author’s work. A seasoned book publishing attorney can provide guidance on how to navigate this type of situation while protecting your interests.