Know Your Author Rights

It’s an exciting time when a publisher accepts an author’s manuscript. However, with the celebration comes a contract that discusses ownership rights. Authors and potential authors may wonder what rights to retain and what rights to grant to publishers. Before you make any hasty decisions, you first need to know a little more about ownership rights.

Photo by Albertus Galileo on Unsplash

Copyright laws legally protect original works from being reproduced and credited to other people. When you create a new work, you automatically own the rights to it. These rights include the right to distribute, reproduce, publicly display, and modify the original work.

When you begin a partnership with a publisher, these rights will shift around a bit. Ideally, a publisher will specify the rights they intend to buy. Sometimes, though, the contracts are ambiguous or unclear, often with stipulations for rights muddled by intimidating legal terms. Have no fear! If you do your research about ownership rights, you will be in a better position to retain certain rights to your manuscript and create a beneficial partnership with the publisher.

There are a variety of rights you may negotiate to retain for yourself or grant to your publisher. These rights include first serial rights, one-time rights, and second serial rights.

First serial rights mean the publisher can publish the manuscript for the first time, but all other rights remain with the author. One-time rights mean the publisher purchases the right to publish the manuscript one time. There is nothing stopping the author from selling the work to other publications at the same time. Second serial rights mean you grant a publisher the right to publish the manuscript after it has already appeared in another publication.

The most important rights to be wary of are “all rights.” The publishers’ contract may stipulate that authors sign over all rights to their works. This means your work no longer belongs to you; instead, the publisher owns it and you can’t use it again without their permission. Try to avoid signing contracts with these “all rights” clauses. Instead, negotiate with the publisher for serial rights or one-time rights, which are more beneficial because you may want to revisit your work later.

It’s important to know what ownership rights are available to you, but you may have the daunting task of picking apart the contract to make sure you’ve received a fair deal. You don’t want the experience that many others have unfortunately had. They find themselves in a sticky situation with no rights to their books, a poor relationship with their publisher, and very little success. It’s beneficial to seek assistance from authors who have already worked on contract agreements and can offer insight. It is also recommended to seek legal counsel or someone certified in copyright law to offer advice.

As an author, it’s important to research ownership rights so that you understand what rights will fit your manuscript best. Once you’ve received advice about contracts and picked the contract apart, try to negotiate with your publisher before signing. If you can’t agree on the terms, it may be best to find another publisher who can better meet your needs.

Remember, publishers want your book to be successful, so work with publishers that make you feel comfortable and confident in where your partnership will take you!

This is the first post in a three-part series on navigating book marketing. Check back on September 14 for “Successfully Marketing a Book: An Author’s Role” and September 21 for “Literary Agents: Finding the Best Fit”.

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What Bloggers Should Know About Copyright

Copyright In A Nutshell

The easily accessible pictures, gifs, and knowledge that lies at our fingertips has a serious downside. The over-production of images and ideas in today’s age has led to the plague of copyright infringement. This plague leads to many new hurdles for the already angsty and ruffled modern blog writer and leads us to the ultimate question: “How do I claim my art?” In order to answer this question, we must first ask ourselves what defines intellectual property. Intellectual property deals with what I like to call soul-creations. These creations range from music, literature, painting, graphic design, photography and other unique free-handed works.

Your art is your own personal testimony and it is your responsibility to properly protect your unique pieces. Blogs automatically protect authors’ ownership of their own intellectual property unless you have signed a document with your agency or blog provider stating otherwise. The Free Online Dictionary defines copyright as
a bundle of intangible rights granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby, for a limited period, the exclusive privilege is given to that person (or to any party to whom they the originator transfers ownership) to make copies of the same for publication and sale (“Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016).

Copyright owners are the only ones who have this right to control the reproduction of their work. However, there is one main exception to this rule referred to as Work-For-Hire. Work-For-Hire is where you may sign your copyrights over to a professional agency and will no longer be the sole owner of your work. It is recommended that Freelance authors and bloggers read over Work-For-Hire agreements with lawyers and other professionals of their choice.

How To Claim Your Art

  • Purchase a copyright, patent, trademark and recognize that these are all under the law known as intellectual property.
  • Sign a Work-For-Hire agreement when working for an organization to make sure that your work is copyrighted under your employer or your individual name if you choose.
  • Place a copyright logo next to of each piece you have published to help prevent theft.

What You Should Do About an Art Thief

Just because you don’t work for an agency and did not sign any Work-For-Hire agreements your blog has an automatic copyright inscription called “air quality monitoring” simply because your name is on your web page. The law will back you up on the fact that no other blogger has the right to share your content without your permission.

Here are the three main steps to take if your work is stolen:

First Step: Confront the thief:

Get into contact with a lawyer or research a copyright infringement form and send it to the thief if your material is not immediately removed from their site.

Second Step: Write a Cease and Desist Order

A Cease and Desist order is a type of copyright infringement claim that grants you the right to take further legal action against the thief. You should send the thief the Cease and Desist letter so that you can prove their statement and resistance in court if they claim they are not violating your copyrights.

Last Resort Step: File a DMCA Complaint

A Digital Millennium Copyright Ace is a documented complaint to the blogger’s Web host. By filing a DMCA Complaint you are given the power to remove their blog from the public domain if the blogger is not in accordance with the Web host’s guidelines. You can also file a DMCA Complaint to Google Ads if a thief gains commission from allowing Google ads on their personal site.

What I Hope You’ve Learned

I hope that this blog will inspire you as a writer who displays your personal writing. My goal is to help you be more knowledgeable about your right to ownership of your public portfolios. This knowledge is especially vital when you rely on commission because the value of your art is dependent upon your investments in your education, materials, and original skill set. You deserve the proper appreciation for your yearly commitments that have enabled you to produce masterpieces in just a day’s time.