10-second review: An interesting review of contract issues in signing a contract for a writing assignment. Advice from Milton C. Toby, a Georgetown, Ky. Attorney.
Title: “Contracts 101: What You Need to Know.” K James-Enger. The Writer (October 2009), 40-41.
Comment: This a valuable article with valuable advice for writers. You need to read the entire article. I have highlighted only some of the issues. RayS.
Quote: Toby: “Anytime you’re presented with a contract, [remember that] it was written in favor of the person who is giving it to you.”
Quote: “Understand that when you sell all rights (sometimes called a ‘work-for-hire’ agreement) to a story, you’re precluded from reprinting or reusing that piece ever again.”
Quote: “A common clause in national magazines requires you to agree ‘not to write about the same or similar subject of the work from the date hereof until six months after the on-sale date of the issue of the magazine in which the work is published.’ ” …. “Signing this provision means you could be prevented from covering a similar subject for a different publisher for months while you wait for your first story to run.”
Quote: “Indemnification. In a broad sense indemnification means that if the magazine is sued over something you’ve written, you’ve agreed to basically take on the defense yourself—you’re going to step in and say, ‘I’ll defend you—I will take care of this.’ ” …. “However, some contracts that have indemnification provisions also reserve the right to edit your work. Your work could be rewritten, introducing factual errors (or worse, libeling someone) resulting in a lawsuit—which you would be responsible for under the indemnification provision.”
Quote: “Research notes and other materials. More contracts are asking that you turn over ‘all notes, transcripts and research materials’ created while researching and writing the story.”
Quote: “Changing contracts… Legally a contract represents a ‘meeting of the minds’ of two parties, so if you don’t like a certain provision, you can always strike it by crossing it out and adding your initials and date. However, the publisher must agree by countersigning the change.”
Comment: If all this is as new to you as it is to me, you’ll need to hire a lawyer before signing a publishing contract. RayS.