The good folks at Nova Scotia’s Artists’ Legal Information Society (ALIS) have published their free Legal Guide for Writers, a solid plain-English resource which will prove useful both for authors and their lawyers. Published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, the Guide explains how contractual relationships in the book publishing industry are structured, explores how copyright protection arises and can be registered and how copyright can be infringed, with reference to relevant fair dealing concepts.
Of perhaps most use to those trying to navigate their way through a book publishing contract, the Guide also contains explanations of common concepts and clauses, such as royalty provisions and author representations/warranties, and provides advice on clauses which authors should negotiate (e.g., reversion on bankruptcy, non-competition restrictions). The impact of digital books, and how “traditional” clauses may need to be modified to take account of e-book exploitation, is also addressed. Finally, the Guide contains some helpful guidance on agent contracts.
While nothing is a substitute for the advice of a lawyer who has experience reviewing and negotiating publishing agreements, the ALIS Legal Guide for Writers provides quality information in an easy-to-understand and -navigate format – interested authors and lawyers should definitely check it out.