8 Tips from Publishing Law Attorneys for Content Monetization - Tip #3: Maximizing Your Bottom Line, Acquisition of Rights


[author: Lloyd L. Rich]

Over the next several weeks, we will share eight Publication Law Tips on the subsidiary rights of publishers in different forms and media, frequently referred to as "content monetization."

Content Monetization Tip #3: Maximizing Your Bottom Line, Acquisition of Rights

Grant of Rights Clause

The "Grant of Rights" clause in a Publisher/Author Agreement clause sets forth the publishing and subsidiary rights granted by the author to the publisher. This clause has always been important in the publishing environment, and remains so because there are increasingly more ways that content may be used to generate revenue for the author and publisher.

Scope of Grant of Rights Clause

The scope of the clause can vary widely. At its broadest, it can be all-inclusive with a grant of all exclusive rights in the author's work to the publisher. On the other hand, the grant could be restricted and only provide for a single specific use of the author's work by the publisher. Finally, the scope of this clause could be somewhere between these extremes. The critical point is that the publisher only has the right to exploit those rights that have been specifically granted by the author.

Content monetization is derived from the publisher's exploitation of the publishing and subsidiary rights granted by the author, and includes rights that the publisher uses for itself and rights that the publisher licenses for use to third parties. The author and publisher should be compensated from all sources of revenue that are attributable to the rights granted to the publisher.

Publishing and Subsidiary Rights

Publishing agreements should provide for a grant of publishing and subsidiary rights that permits the publisher to exploit the author's content in various channels, forms and media.

Publishing and subsidiary rights include:

  • Literary rights – the right to publish in book form including foreign translations
  • Electronic rights – the right to publish as an e-book, online and in other digital and new media
  • Audio/audiovisual rights – the right to publish the book in audio/audiovisual form
  • Merchandising rights – the right to merchandise products (such as calendars, posters) that are based on the author's book
  • Other rights – such as the right to make a motion picture, television program or dramatic play

Tips for Contract Negotiations

Many publishers take the position that they will only enter into a publishing agreement with an author when they obtain all rights in the work. However, sometimes an author is unwilling to grant all rights to the publisher. The publisher must prioritize the rights and make certain to obtain all the rights that are critical to the success of the project.

Clearly specify the publishing and subsidiary rights that are granted by the author.

Reservation of rights – these are the rights reserved by the author and are not granted to the publisher

Reversion of rights – these are rights that were initially granted to the publisher but have been returned to the author

The next article in the content monetization series will discuss business and legal issues for the content monetization of foreign translation rights.


Topics:  Contract Drafting, Grant of Rights, Publishing Copyrights

Published In: Art, Entertainment & Sports Updates, General Business Updates, Intellectual Property Updates, Mergers & Acquisitions Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ryley Carlock & Applewhite | Attorney Advertising

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