Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants

Guide to Textbook Publishing ContractsStephen GillenAn advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. It will be recouped out of the royalties first accrued from the commercial exploitation of your work. It is not uncommon for publishers to agree to advance from 50% to 100% of expected royalties on projected first year sales. The advance may or may not be refundable if your manuscript is rejected and your contract is cancelled.

A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or al of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation. It is generally not recouped out of accrued royalties, and like the advance, may or may not be refundable in the event the manuscript is rejected. [Read more…]

10 Tips for your next textbook deal

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Steve Gillen

If you’ve been published, then you’ve seen it before — a “whereas” and a “therefore” followed by eight or more pages of pre-printed, pedantic prose offered up by the editor as the house’s “standard publishing contract.” Other than a few tiny spaces for your name, the title of your work, and the manuscript delivery date, the bulk of it looks as though it were long ago locked down in Century Schoolbook type.

But the truth is that there is more to review than the spelling of your name, choice of title, and projected completion date, and more to negotiate than you might realize. Here are 10 tips to help you understand what is (or ought to be) worthy of negotiation. [Read more…]

TAA once again stands up for authors in Google Books case

LegalscaleThinkstockPhotos-178999905More than a decade ago, in 2004, Google initiated a program, in concert with several university and large public libraries, to scan and digitize the entire contents of millions of books without regard to whether they were or were not still under copyright, ultimately making complete digital copies of more than 20 million books. Google’s goal was to expand its search business to include print works as well as online works. It spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this project, suggesting what Google believed to be its commercial potential. [Read more…]

Textbook contract negotiations: Do your homework

Textbook Contract NegotiationWhen it comes to contract negotiations, you have to do your homework, says Steve Gillen, partner at Wood, Herron & Evans, where he concentrates his practice on publishing, media, and copyright matters.

“Negotiations are ultimately influenced by which side knows the most about the other side’s positions. The editor starts this contest with an advantage gained from experience in the market, experience doing other [Read more…]

Copyright: Why a memorialized record of good faith matters

copyright collage artThere are few absolutes or bright lines when it comes to copyright matters. So much is left to the judgment of the court or jury in a copyright infringement case, the boundaries so amorphous, the tests so subjective, that ensuring that you are more sympathetic than the plaintiff can go a long way toward moving the case one way or another.

The threshold question of the copyrightability of plaintiff’s work, the credibility assigned to any given copyright registration, the application of the four-factor test for fair use, the [Read more…]

When getting rights clearance is tough

copyright collage artWe’ve all been there. You have the perfect photo . . . verse . . . song lyrics . . . vignette . . . you name it . . . to open your book or a chapter within it. Having labored long and hard to locate just the thing, you are now certain that nothing else will do. There’s only one problem. It’s not yours and either you can’t determine who owns the rights, or you can’t figure out how to reach them, or they’re dead or out of business, or they won’t answer you. [Read more…]

What you need to know about using third party photos

copyrightToday’s business models for licensing third party photography are sufficiently complex that it’s worth taking a few minutes to review the basics and get familiar with the terminology.

Categories of Use: Editorial vs. Commercial

Professional photographers and stock agencies group their work into three broad categories based not on the nature of the photos but instead on the use to which they will be put: editorial, commercial, and retail. Retail use concerns photography commissioned for personal use, and thus is of little consequence to book publishers . . . except, perhaps, for that studio portrait you supplied for the back cover or “about the author” page of your book, a use for which you may have neglected to get the necessary license. Editorial use concerns photography which will be used in a book, e-book, magazine, online, or in a presentation or video that is journalistic, educational, or expository in nature. Commercial use, conversely, concerns photography that will be used in advertising and promotion to sell or market a product (including a book), person (including an author), company (including a publisher), or service. [Read more…]