Legal Issues Around Publishing Deals

July 6, 2018 12:05 pm

It is only natural to be excited if someone wants to publish your work, particularly if someone offers you an advance. However, in the rush of excitement is easy to miss details and you could end up agreeing to something that does not offer a return on the work you put in, so it is worth knowing any potential issues before you sign a publishing deal.

Copyright

On a basic level, if you produce something, then it is now copyrighted. However, there is also the idea of fair use. For example, someone may quote your work in an essay or may use a clip from a video that you have produced in a review. As with anything, this is about context.

While anything produced is copyrighted, if you want to be sure it is recommended that you get a certificate in order to prove that you are the author of the work.

Brand names

Some writers are cautious about using brand names in a book. It should be said that mentioning a brand is not a legal issue in and of itself. However, if you mention a product or brand in a negative light, this could potentially be something that might result in legal action.

Contracts

An author and publisher should know the rights that are covered under a contract. For example, a publisher should make clear if they intend to edit work and what the author will be paid (for example, how much they will receive if the book is published in other countries, serialised in newspapers or magazines, e-readers and so forth).

Self-publishing

Increasingly more people are turning to self-publishing to get their work out there. While you can have more control in terms of what you get out there, it does also mean that you have more responsibility in terms of the content and any potential legal issues.

For example, if you use a photo for your cover, you ought to check that it is in the public domain. If you use an online image, check the restrictions- while the image might be royalty-free, it may be expected that you put a credit. Conversely, some sites may demand fees for images that are public domain and therefore do not require a fee.

Get help

The best way to check any legal issues is to take your work to a specialist. They can look over what you write to make sure that there are no forms of libel, defamation or so forth within the work that could create issues. While publishers can have legal teams and insurance, it is expected that you have responsibility on this as well.

This is especially important when it comes to the contract so that you know what you are agreeing to, in terms of royalties, editing and so forth. For more information or to discuss a publishing deal in more detail, please contact our team and we will be happy to make sure your work is properly protected.


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