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Publishing Rights

edited July 2011 in - WM and WN
Can anyone provide a list of the different publishing rights with an explanation of what they mean? I think this would be really useful for new and experienced authors, especially with the advent of digital rights. It seems to be a bit of a grey area and still confuses me.

I'm putting this in the WM/WN category as I think it would be a useful article in there too.

I'm also interested personally as an editor as I'm going to publish an anthology of entries from the first year of my weekly flash fiction/poetry challenge from my blog - definitely on Kindle but hopefully in print too. It will obviously only include work from those who agree - I'm contacting every contributor individually. What I'm not sure about is although the antho will be published from the UK, the contributors come from across the globe - US, Canada, Sweden, Australia etc. I'm assuming it's where it's published that matters, even if it is then available on Amazon.com/Barnes and Noble etc in the US.

All help and advice welcome. Many thanks.


  • That's a tough one Lily.
  • [quote=Carol]That's a tough one Lily.[/quote]
    Thought it might be, hence my confusion.
  • This link relates to the PDF of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 which might have some relevance...

  • My only experience is of pocket novels.

    I sold the first cheap paperback rights to My Weekly and kept all others, so I'm working on my e-book version at the moment.

    I have just heard that I've sold the worldwide large print rights to Ulverscroft. Here is their standard publication offer blurb:

    [quote]We offer of £400 for world large print rights in this title. This would be a one-off payment for permission to print up to 1000 copies in softcover and we would publish within 18 months of contract, the contract period being five years from publication date. Our sale would be mainly into libraries in the UK, British Commonwealth and the USA, and you would receive four complimentary copies on publication.[/quote]

    I'm afraid this is the extent of my knowledge on the matter and it's been a very fast learning curve! I don't think I have any more rights left now (except for the electronic ones, which I will always retain).
  • You'd have audio rights too GF.
  • How do you sell audio rights? I thought that usually they only bothered publishing big named authors as audio books?
  • There are a lot more companies producing and selling audio downloads, and while you aren't in the big league it is another potential market for the future.
  • And online rights too?
  • I can't contribute with any knowledge, I'm afraid, but what an exciting project Lily, and I'm sure the info on here will be useful to everyone.
  • This is the location for sourcing actual legislation.


    Sorry if information is too late, money generating employment has been rather fraught.
  • Jan, thank you - very much appreciated.

    No, not too late - it's a 'project'.
  • Sorry to butt in here - been searching for an answer and since it is 03.30 am my brain is a bit fuddled.

    I have a paid project coming up and I wanted to keep the rights because the stuff I will write I will more than likely want to use again. The employer is not having this and I guess he is in the right here...isn't he..??

    I suppose I could re write at a later date and it will mean I get on and do the research and get paid for it.
  • [quote=mrsnazilli]a paid project coming up and I wanted to keep the rights ...... The employer is not having this[/quote]
    Define "employer".
    Should that be the person for whom you work regular hours and receive payment in some form of salary or wage encompassing all duties performed; then everything you produce is owned by that employer and copyright remains his/the company financing your earnings.

    However, working independently, as a freelance writer/photographer etc., the commissioned work is effectively on loan to person/organisation remunerating one's fees and expenses. Copyright remains with its author, only first right of use being allowed in said commission. This may be easily verified by checking any contract by portrait/wedding photographer, architect/designer, project administrator. In fact any producer of "original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films or broadcasts".

    Equally, to ensure your commission is successful, it may be worth negotiating a greater sum in payment for "sale" of this copyright work and reworking it for sale to other outlets at a later date.
    Principle is all well and good but mouths need feeding and bodies need clothing .... well sometimes.
    Good luck.
  • As Jan has already said it depends on whether he is your employer.
    If you're doing this as a freelance which I assume you are, the 'employer' does not have an automatic right to your copyright. If he wants it then he should pay a higher fee to reflect that.
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