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 Reversion of rights

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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12601
Registration date : 2008-01-11
Location : UK

Reversion of rights Empty
PostSubject: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySat Mar 28, 2009 6:38 am

In 2007, Simon & Schuster decided to stop reverting rights to their authors:

http://booksquare.com/simon-schuster-changes-the-rules-goodbye-reversion-of-rights/

'And it is not only S&S which is reviewing its standard contracts. "All the big corporates are, to a greater or lesser extent, trying to hang on to rights in perpetuity," says a senior agent.
The UK's Society of Authors, along with British agents, has been arguing that in the light of technological developments, new reversion clauses need to be agreed, under which an author can terminate a contract if sales fall below certain agreed figures over any two royalty periods. The author body says "recent informal discussions" with British trade publishers have indicated that they accept the need for reversion clauses to be reconsidered.'

http://www.thebookseller.com/in-depth/feature/46542-is-out-of-print-outdated.html

Is this becoming standard practice?

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Reversion of rights 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ Reversion of rights 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins 2017


Last edited by Shelagh on Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySat Mar 28, 2009 7:09 am

As I posted in another thread, publishers keeping the rights to a song forever has been kind of the norm. There are some publishers whose contract have reversion clauses, but most don't.

The contract that my companies used stated that if we didn't get a song recorded in a period of two - three years, the rights reverted to the writer. This was the kind of contract I preferred signing, so when I started my own company I was sure to put it in our contract. Some reversion clauses go so far as to say it the song isn't recorded by "a major artist" the rights are returned. However, if the song gets recorded at all, then it becomes a matter of defining a "major artist." Most of the time a song that is recorded remains with the publisher.

Again, this was what I was used to, therefore, I wasn't worried about signing a 7 year contract on my books. It all depends on how you look at it.
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 6:12 am

Publishers keep more than just printing rights:

Keep in mind however, that a reversion of rights is not the same as a termination of the agreement. There are often many provisions in a publishing agreement that have nothing whatsoever to do with which party owns the rights to a work and such provisions can remain in effect even though a publisher may revert the rights to the said work to the author. Such provisions can include rights to the next book, restrictions on competition (i.e. what the author can or cannot do), warranties and indemnities, rights to revised editions, confidentiality provisions etc. etc. Thus, provisions that merely provide that upon the happening of certain events, such as for example, a declaration of out of print, the rights to the work shall revert to the author, do not mean or even imply that the publisher is giving up its rights in the agreement. If the intention of the parties is to terminate the agreement and all of the publisher's rights in the agreement if the book goes out of print, that has to be clearly specified.

http://www.ivanhoffman.com/reversion.html

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Reversion of rights 41ZdcL0lV7L._SL125_ Reversion of rights 41C9GeFDNWL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 51eDGllZXhL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 41y7VHKoszL._SL125_ Reversion of rights 51Zs4N4T4eL._SL125_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins 2017
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 12:40 pm

I didn't see this thread until now. A problem from the writer's point of view is what he will do if he does get the rights back. Will another company publish it? Don Stephens found someone who published a returned story but most of the big firms won't do it.
A friend of mine had about 15 books published by St. Martin's. They didn't want more of his work and returned the rights to him. No mainline firm would touch the books so he fould a regional publisher who put them all back in print. Now they can be found only in local bookstores and at the usual online sites. Not much money in that.
I'm glad the writer retains the rights for the magazines I write for. But having them, what can I do with them unless Martin Greenberg or someone else asks to use one in an anthology?
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Sue
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 12:51 pm

I am not clear at all on this issue, so feel I shouldn't participate.

In my contracts as a publisher I have a section on it. However, every time I read it I have to have someone explain it to me. I can never keep it in my head. I know, poor business woman. I think that once someone explains and the lightbulb goes on I will be able to discuss this issue intelligently. Until then I will just read what others have to say.

BTW My contract is a standard industry contract given to me by another publisher. It is almost exactly like the one I found in a book on book contracts.
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 6:15 pm

I find this all quite confusing. If you get your rights back, but can't republish, what good does it do?
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RunsWithScissors
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 7:46 pm

Great question, Zada.

I want to get my rights returned to me but have been asking myself what my next step would be once they were returned. Currently, I don't have an answer.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 8:02 pm

IMO, it rarely does any good to get them back. However, I think a lot of people have two reasons for wanting them back.

One, I honestly think they believe they can remarket the book with a new publisher, and it will be the best seller they always knew it was.

Two, they think they have been taken advantage of, and they just don't want the publisher to profit any at all from their work.

I have two problems with these two problems.

One, I doubt that most of the books were actully best sellers, or will they ever be. Sorry folks.

Two. If they'd read and understood the contract before they signed it, they would know that most publishers are not taking advantage of them, they're just trying to make a buck. I don't care what anyone may think, if the publisher has invested any money at all in the book, then they deserve to recover that investment. After they do, then I see no reason to go after your rights if you want them.

Now, I've said that I'd like to get my rights to two books back, and I would, but not because I think either of them is a best seller. I'd like to get them back so I could make changes in them, and try to find a new publisher who would do a bit more promotion and perhaps get them placed in bookstores. I knew they wouldn't be with this previous publisher, and I went ahead anyway, but now I've changed my mind. Chances are very slim that I could interest a new publisher in either book, and I know that, but the fact is that some people do, and I'd like to give it a shot.

In the event I don't get my rights back, then I'm content to live with the contract I signed.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 8:05 pm

BTW Shelagh, when I speak of "getting my rights back," I'm talking lock, stock, and barrell. Everything. The whole enchilada. Me with the rights to do anything and everything with my books, the publisher with no rights to do anything at all. I control it all, they have no say so and no profit whatsoever.
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 9:22 pm

Don said:

"Now, I've said that I'd like to get my rights to two books back, and I would, but not because I think either of them is a best seller. I'd like to get them back so I could make changes in them, and try to find a new publisher who would do a bit more promotion and perhaps get them placed in bookstores. I knew they wouldn't be with this previous publisher, and I went ahead anyway, but now I've changed my mind. Chances are very slim that I could interest a new publisher in either book, and I know that, but the fact is that some people do, and I'd like to give it a shot.

In the event I don't get my rights back, then I'm content to live with the contract I signed."

I could not agree more. But perhaps it is just time to keep forging ahead. I sometimes think I could have done much better with the story.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 9:26 pm

Zada, ahead is the only way to forge. Push as hard as you can and then keep on keepin' on.
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 9:28 pm

Yes, Don, the next one will be better, and then the one after that.....
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 9:42 pm

10-4
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptySun Mar 29, 2009 9:50 pm

Reversion of rights isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different publishers. Different contracts. Different attitudes. Different nomenclature. For the most part reversion of rights provisions in publishing contracts do not terminate other provisions in the contract.

I wanted, "All of my rights back" which meant to me that all provisions of the contract would be canceled. All of them! That wasn't what it meant to the publisher or the law. So I found out reversion of rights wasn't what I wanted at all.

In order to achieve what I wanted I needed rescinding of the contract ab initio. I obtained that and my book was never legally published nor did any contract ever exist between me and the publisher. I became unpublished.

And after everything was finished my book still appears on internet book sales sites.cheers

Phil Dolan
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptyMon Mar 30, 2009 4:46 am

This is a good discussion. I agree with E. Don. His points are well taken and my feelings exactly. Publishers are businesses with the purpose of making money. All contracts can be different, since all publishers are different as well as writers, and both decide to sign on that dotted line or not. A contract is an agreement between two parties, and both need to think this through carefully before signing.

Emotions get involved. Writers are thrilled when anyone is interested in what they have written. Those who think their work is a best seller expect the moon and others are just happy to get published by anyone and sign off on anything. Neither one is the best when the emotional experience of writing needs to be tempered with the business side of getting published.

Carol
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W. Lane Rogers
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptyMon Mar 30, 2009 2:42 pm

It's important that rights revert to the author. A publisher who brought out a book of mine in the 1990s was recently sold to a conglomerate. The new folks dropped the history imprint and rights reverterd to me. The book was sold to a university press and a second edition (a few cuts and a new chapter) will be released in 2010.
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Victor D. Lopez
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptyWed Mar 21, 2012 8:54 pm

Although there is some wiggle room for negotiation in book contracts, authors, especially new or lesser known ones, have little bargaining power when it comes to negotiating contract terms. These are very often adhesion contracts offered on a "take it or leave it" basis and authors anxious to see their work in print will too often not read them carefully enough or understand them thoroughly enough even when they do.

The value of reversionary rights depends on the nature of the book. In all of my textbook and trade book contracts I've had a reversionary clause that states that the contract is nullified and the rights revert to the author when the publisher ceases publication of the book. In at least one case I lived to regret not specifying that the right would revert if fewer than a specific number of books are sold in a year--as a publisher can (and this major publisher did) keep a book in print with only a few dozen sales a year which prevented the contract from expiring, my rights from being returned to me and, more importantly, my signing any other books with a similar subject with any other publisher for years longer than it should have.

Regardless of the sophistication or experience a writer may have (or lack) it is essential that they seek advice from either an agent or a lawyer (both if potentially lucrative contract is involved). Royalty rates and advances are important, as are reversionary rights (to me, always) but here are many, many other issues that can sour a seemingly sweet contract, including issues relating to contract construction, as honest people can have very different interpretations as to what is meant by seemingly clear language. (Example: you agree to deliver a book of 100,000 words. Are you in compliance if you deliver A MSS that is 60,000 words and relevant, useful ancillary material that is 40,000 words? A publisher may think that the word count is exclusive of and an author that it is inclusive of the ancillary material. And neither may see the need for clarification until the MSS is delivered.

Publishers write the contract with the advice of lawyers, and may use time tested standard form contracts in use in the publishing industry, likewise created to benefit publishers. These contracts are not intended to benefit the author; authors need to read offered contracts with this in mind. Authors who think otherwise may be the proud owners of shares in the Brooklyn Bridge.
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dkchristi
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PostSubject: Re: Reversion of rights   Reversion of rights EmptyThu Mar 22, 2012 7:12 am

This information would have been beneficial to me in 2005...:-)
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