The Perils of a Foreign Rights Deal
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Jonathan Kirsch, a publishing attorney based in Los Angeles, is general counsel of the Independent Book Publishers Association and a recipient of its Benjamin Franklin Award for excellence in publishing.
Question: I have been contacted by a publisher in Eastern Europe who wants to acquire the rights to one of our books, but I cannot tell whether the offer is fair, what kind of contract I will need, and what I can do if the foreign publisher fails to live up to his promises. How can I protect myself?
Answer: You are not alone in discovering that a book published only in the United States is attracting attention from publishers around the world. Thanks to the ease of communication via the Internet, recent developments in the international law of commerce and copyright, and the new global perspective of publishers around the world, the fact is that independent publishers are enjoying opportunities that were previously available only to those who actively marketed the foreign rights in the books they publish. Here are some fundamental points to keep in mind when evaluating an offer from a foreign publisher.
Do You Own the Foreign Rights to the Book?
The threshold question is whether you own and control the foreign rights in the book you are publishing in the United States. You need to carefully examine your contract with the author and confirm that you are entitled to enter into a contract for a foreign edition of the book. If not, then you must either secure the foreign rights now in a separate contract with the author or pass along the offer from the foreign publisher to the author.
Do You Have Any Other Offers?
The question of whether…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).
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