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December 5, 2012
Termination Rights and Book Publishers
I first discussed "termination rights" in the context of audio recordings. The idea - that creators can claw back ownership of their material - isn't limited to the music business. The law that gives these rights can be applied to other creative works, such as books. And now, according to PaidContent.org, that's about to happen.
The story is a little short on detail, and references the Village People legal case I mentioned a few months ago. The big difference I see is that authors - particularly those who write novels that end up on bestseller lists - usually work through agents. These agents often handle all publication rights for the author, even though they don't hold the original copyrights, nor are they assigned the rights. They negotiate the contracts, though, and if those contracts are going to be broken or amended through the Termination Rights process then these literary agents are likely to be involved again. And as Jeff John Roberts notes in his column, it's not clear how widespread the knowledge of the law's provisions are, or who actually understands them. They're not really as straightforward as one would like, since they require advance notice and have a window in which they can be exercised.
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