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ot: buying short story rights - without a lawyer - crazy?
Posted: 01 August 2012 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Currently. at the point I’m thinking to buy illustrated short stories for my website and to publish pod under my publisher name.  I have my website started, my publisher name registered in Bowkers and a few ISBNs reserved.
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but,
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is it crazy to buy a story without a lawyer?
my biggest fear is someone will sell me a plagiarized story or something they don’t legally own.
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i’ve been yahooing and googling for a template on how to word a short story publishing agreement.  Haven’t found one yet.
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With Vicki or Mike rendered illustrations, no model agreements to worry about. LOL 

 

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Posted: 01 August 2012 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s not necessarily crazy to buy without a lawyer, but it is to do it without understanding the issue of publishing rights and what you and the author can and cannot do.

Generally stories are not sold outright. They may be written for someone else - ‘Work for hire’, but normally a publisher will buy specific rights to a completed story in the case of short fiction or contract for completion of an outlined novel in longer works. For example a publisher might contract for ‘First North American Serial Rights’ which would give you the right to publish the story in North America in print. Meanwhie the author still holds the copyright in the piece (in fact his estate holds it until 70 years past his death) and can quite happily go off and sell British, or Australian or whatever. What you want for your website are electronic rights, but print-on-demand would then require a form of print rights, so you’re going to be buying two sets of rights. Even an author approached just for electronic rights would have to consider what other rights selling those might compromise, as print publishers are often eager to have electronic rights as well and many will be unwilling to publish a work already exposed on the web.

You need to understand all of this to some level in order to protect both yourself and the author and to understand both the concerns the author may have and the rights they will retain over the work. If you don’t already have this knowledge, you need to acquire it before going further.

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Posted: 01 August 2012 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Totally agree with DWG. You don’t need a lawyer (assume that is to save on cost) but then you need to recognize you’ll have to invest ahelluvalot of your own time/effort to the legal aspects, and I certainly suggest you seek legal advice/input. There are many free contract templates available online, and a number of free legal forums where you can ask questions. That’s not as bulletproof as getting your own lawyer, but better than putting yourself at risk.

The most important thing is that you understand the risk - which you clearly do. The next most important thing is that you manage that risk. In today’s environment of rampant digital IP “borrowing” (I used that term to comly with the forum TOS but you know what I mean) you simply cannot put yourself in a situation where you are paying for/distributing digital IP without ensuring its authenticity, unless you personally know the people you’re dealing with.

If you do get a sample contract and would like me to take a quick look for you, please PM me.

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Posted: 01 August 2012 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Lawyers are like leeches… sometimes you need them and sometimes you don’t.

 

 

 

 


I don’t actually have a point, I just wanted to say that.

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Posted: 01 August 2012 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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lol, sometimes not having a point, is the point?

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Posted: 01 August 2012 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Intellectual Property Law is one of the most dangerous areas to wade into without legal representation.  Take a look at Apple v Samsung for a current situ.  You are definitely going to need, at a minimum, either a IP Search Specialist or an indemnification agreement from the authors.  In other words, unless you can finance the costs of a suit that may be spurious, you’re going to need protection.


Do yourself a favor and contact an IP Attorney and get some real legal advice.


Kendall

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Posted: 02 August 2012 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve mainly looked at this from the other side, but here are a couple of resources you may find useful:

Duotrope (http://www.duotrope.com), specifically this page: https://duotrope.com/notes_editors.aspx
SFWA (http://www.sfwa.org), specifically this page: http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/ - because you want to avoid creating a situation in which an author thinks you’re trying to scam them.

When you have some submission guidelines ready, I’ll definitely be interested to take a look at them! smile

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Posted: 02 August 2012 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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SFWA!  - Thanks


Found this site:  http://www.publishlawyer.com
I see a template for movie rights.
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I need to slow down and put more thought into this. 
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Should i do something like a write-for-hire?  Choose a few authors with a style i think has potential, but - for example, ask them to write on a theme for the advance.  Like sexi space pirates.  Then, I could put 5 sexi space pirate stories in a themed anthology. 
The problem though, they could give me a story not worth printing and i’m out whatever i advanced them.
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am i exposing myself to years of migraines and poverty

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Posted: 02 August 2012 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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according to this:
http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/#shortfiction
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if i buy an author’s story for $50, they still wouldn’t qualify to join SFWA unless i’m on their qualifying publisher list.
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i wouldn’t sell one of my stories to anyone for only 50 bucks.  yeesh.

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Posted: 02 August 2012 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Misty Whisky - 02 August 2012 07:39 AM

SFWA!  - Thanks


Found this site:  http://www.publishlawyer.com
I see a template for movie rights.
.
.
I need to slow down and put more thought into this. 
.
Should i do something like a write-for-hire?  Choose a few authors with a style i think has potential, but - for example, ask them to write on a theme for the advance.  Like sexi space pirates.  Then, I could put 5 sexi space pirate stories in a themed anthology. 
The problem though, they could give me a story not worth printing and i’m out whatever i advanced them.
.
am i exposing myself to years of migraines and poverty


What you’re contemplating can be very rewarding, IF you perform “due diligence”.  Your main headache is going to be plagiarism challenges.  These will happen as a matter of course, some may have merit, most will not.  You will get those leeches that are out to try to “cash in” on the extremely gray area that is IP law,  and will target smaller publishing houses simply because smaller houses usually have the least protection.  You REALLY NEED to consult with an attorney well versed in IP law, and especially publishing.  You also need to contact an insurance agent about a policy to protect against the situation where you lose and the author cannot, or will not, indemnify you.


Kendall

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Posted: 02 August 2012 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Given the ferocious competition in the e-‘publishing business—and given the penalties for copyright infringement—are you really sure you even want to get into this? 


http://www.lib.purdue.edu/uco/CopyrightBasics/penalties.html

 

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Posted: 02 August 2012 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Quaking in my boots actually.

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Posted: 02 August 2012 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Publishing isn’t really a business for amateurs.  Yeah, it sounds as though just “anybody” can set up an e-publishing business and make money, but that’s not true. 

 

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Posted: 02 August 2012 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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You could look at Docracy to see if there are any contracts that you could modify.


However, I think the people who are advising you to get proper legal advice may be correct.


If you do consult a lawyer, remember that lawyers charge by the hour. The better prepared you are when you go, the quicker and cheaper everything will be. So instead of going along and saying “Well, uh, I sort of want something like this.”, work out a detailed summary of what you want or even draft your own specimen contract. Write everything as clearly and simply as you can, in plain English. If you can find an example in Docracy that’s close to what you want, use that as a model and change it to fit your needs. Then go to the lawyer and ask him or her to review and refine it. This ought to be cheaper than having them draw up a new contract from scratch (but ask them first, and get them to give you an estimate of how much they’d charge for this type of work).

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Posted: 02 August 2012 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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angusm - 02 August 2012 09:53 AM

You could look at Docracy to see if there are any contracts that you could modify.


However, I think the people who are advising you to get proper legal advice may be correct.


If you do consult a lawyer, remember that lawyers charge by the hour. The better prepared you are when you go, the quicker and cheaper everything will be. So instead of going along and saying “Well, uh, I sort of want something like this.”, work out a detailed summary of what you want or even draft your own specimen contract. Write everything as clearly and simply as you can, in plain English. If you can find an example in Docracy that’s close to what you want, use that as a model and change it to fit your needs. Then go to the lawyer and ask him or her to review and refine it. This ought to be cheaper than having them draw up a new contract from scratch (but ask them first, and get them to give you an estimate of how much they’d charge for this type of work).


Some good advice.  Remember also that it is a mutual interview.  The Attorney is looking to be your provider as much as you are looking to get their services.  IT IS NOT A ONE WAY STREET.  If any attorney treats you as a “customer” or isn’t interviewing to be your attorney, then leave—they are not going to be serious.  Don’t go into a lawyer’s office with the intent to “get their help”.  If you do, you’ve already lost.  Your first visit should not be about your contract, business, or anything like that.  Your first visit should be non-charged.  You need to interview THEM.  Make sure that the Attorney assigned (if a multi-attorney office) is competent, and make sure that you get along.  YOU MUST BE ON GOOD TERMS WITH YOUR ATTORNEY.  Also, make sure that the Attorney is interested in your endeavor.


Kendall

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Posted: 02 August 2012 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I assume you are getting these authors to sign a contract, correct? It should be in the contract that the author certifies, by signing the contract, that they own all rights to the work, have not plagiarized the work, etc., etc., and that they accept all responsibility should such an issue arise.

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