An excellent way to earn passive income (at least once the cookbook or magazine is on the shelves).
This page talks a lot about copyright law – it’s an important area of law to get your head around (a bit) if you’re thinking of becoming a published author.
Copyright exists in the expression of the idea, not the idea itself. Copyright in a book does not need to be registered to give it protection. Once it’s recorded somehow, it’s automatically protected. For books, copyright exists in:
- Manuscript of the book
- Book cover
- Photographs in the book
Copyright operates by giving the owner of the copyright exclusive rights to do certain things with and to the copyrighted thing.
When you enter into a publishing agreement, the publisher usually:
- Takes the copyright from you (technically a licence)
- Pays you an advance and royalties
- Takes the right to reproduce it in all kinds of different ways (known as ‘subsidiary right’) and pay you royalties if it does. The subsidiary rights include translations, magazines, book club versions, audio, reprints, television, public readings and electronic reproduction
- Wants the first look at the next book
What about the next book?
- Publishers will normally include a right of first refusal to publish your next book.
- Hardly an attractive thing if there’s a falling out between you and the publisher.
- Consider asking for it to be removed. Perhaps tell them that, if all goes well, you’ll be happy to come back to them, but don’t want to be bound by it. There’s no harm in asking.
I was thinking about a TV show as well
The subsidiary rights will usually take away your ability to make a TV show based on the content of your book without the publisher coming along as well.
Telling really tall stories?
- You might end up defaming someone. Damages for defamation in Australia are capped at a little over $350,000, and that’s before legal costs.
- Even if you have the backing of a big publishing house, you’re probably required to indemnify them for any loss they suffer from you defaming someone in your book.
- Get legal advice on the manuscript before it’s published. We’ve been involved in defamation lawsuits. They’re very technical and very expensive. Get the advice first.