Foreign Publishing Deals, Part 2

December 1996
by Ivan Hoffman, B.A., J.D

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(NOTE: Part 1 of this article is not available online.)

In Part I of this article I wrote:

“Additionally, it should be made clear that the license to the foreign publisher does not include the right to export from the territory into other territories. This is a subtle but important point since a local publisher may feel that because they own rights for the territory such rights include the right to sell to exporters in the territory even though the ultimate sales may take place outside the territory.”

Among the many important clauses in a foreign publishing deal, the issue of defining “territory” may be one of the most important. I find that when publishers simply copy “standard” forms, they often include the following language without knowing what its impact may be. It comes up this way: a territory is defined (a country, or a market such as Latin America or the like) and then the boilerplate language often reads:

“The rest of the world shall be an open market.”

The Financial Impact

When a publisher makes a foreign publishing deal, the advance and the royalty as well as other terms are or should be keyed to the size of the market being licensed. Obviously the larger the territory, the larger the deal. Rights to a single country, in either English or some indigenous language, should bring a smaller deal than worldwide specific language rights or multiple territories. And within that defined territory, the licensee is most often granted exclusive rights, at least for so-called “normal trade channels.”

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