About Collaboration Contracts

November 2003
by Mary Embree
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If you will be collaborating with someone else on a book, the first issue to be resolved–as Tad Crawford points out in Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers–is how the copyright in the collaboration will be owned.

In every case, all details of the agreement should be spelled out. For example, the names of the parties and the names of their agents, if any, should be stated. The nature or subject of the work must be specified–autobiography, how-to book, child psychology, cookbook, etc. The tentative or working title should be named, and if there is an outline or synopsis of the work, it should be attached to the contract.

There are many different kinds of collaborations, but the agreements for each one must be in writing if you are to avoid some really sticky problems later on. Here are some specific pointers for avoiding trouble with two common kinds of collaborations.

Equal Partners

Collaborations often involve a joint work in which proceeds are to be equally shared. When this is the case, the agreement should set out each party’s responsibility in great detail and spell out how they will authorize and share expenses and who has rights to license the work under what conditions.

Equal partner collaborators also need to decide what will happen if the project is never completed. The issues might be what their individual rights will be in case the book project is never sold. When collabor…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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