Pub Rants

Including But Not Limited To

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STATUS: I don’t know about you but I plan to be downloading Paul Potts’ first CD called ONE CHANCE from iTunes this week. If you want to buy the actual CD, here’s a link. I had to watch it again today. It’s like a little moment of sudden inspiration each time I watch it.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TIME PASSAGES by Al Stewart

Whenever I do a deal, I always send a deal memo to the editor to verify the deal points. In this memo I always include a rights reserved clause with a little phrase that goes like this, “including but not limited to” and then a big list of what’s reserved so everything is clear.

And do you know what I’ve been noticing? There has been an interesting trend lately in publisher contracts. If a right wasn’t specifically discussed during negotiation, it’s showing up in the publishing contract as a right granted to the publisher—even though it was never mention by either me or the editor.

I think my favorite was this one. I had reserved all dramatic rights (motion picture, TV, radio, you get the picture) and the contract came with this: non-dramatic: motion picture, TV, radio and allied rights.

Uh, I’d really like to know what a non-dramatic motion picture is. I honestly didn’t think to reserve it because I’ve never heard of it.

Ended it up that the publisher wanted that to refer to educational documentaries. I’m like, no, that’s a dramatic right. It ended up being no big deal (and it was deleted from the contract) but now I have to add it to my list of rights reserved (which is kind of getting ridiculously long).

I think “including but not limited to” should cover it just fine but no, I’m being forced to spell it all out. Okay then. I can be super anal if that’s what it takes.

12 Responses

  1. Joely Sue Burkhart said:

    I listened to Paul’s cd all day today. It’s wonderful! I’d seen the YouTube before, but thanks for posting it, because that led me to his cd. I had no idea his career had progressed so far, but I’m not surprised!

  2. Anonymous said:

    Who thinks of these things? Lawyers who work for the publishers. If there’s a way to get a right, they’ll find it. That’s what makes a good agent worth their weight in $$.

  3. Rebecca Burgess said:

    Ugh. Just contemplating this level of anality makes me want to reach for the red wine.

    How do you do it and not spend large portions of your day sitting at a bar?

    Unless your office is a bar.

  4. David said:

    Thank you so much for the most fascinating Agent Blog on the web. The insight you give writers on the process outside of their hands is one that actually helps close the gap and open the box of Publishing secrets.

  5. Anonymous said:

    I’m married to a lawyer who does primarily business related law (he’s a partner in a large, well respected firm, assuming that’s not an oxymoron.) When he’s negotiating a deal for a client, he has to comb through every word of every contract (and every revised contract where the other side may try to slip something in) for crap like this. On the flip side, when something goes awry for one of his clients, he can almost always find a loophole in a contract prepared by the other side.

    His motto: there’s not a contract written that can’t be broken (except, hopefully, the ones he draws up.)

    Not exactly an endorsement of the legal profession, but, sadly, a reality. There’s no end to how many different ways people will try to screw you when it comes to money. Sigh.

  6. Sara said:

    You are preaching to the choir right here! I’m in my first year of law school right now, and from some of the things I am learning in my contracts class, “super anal” just about sums it up!!!

  7. Linnea said:

    I love contracts. I used to work for lawyers and enjoyed the challenge of finding clauses that weren’t in the best interests of our clients. When I received the publishing contract for my first novel it was like getting a big piece of candy!

  8. Anonymous said:

    Can’t you just add a line to the contract that says ‘All writes not specifically granted to the Publisher are hereby reserved to the Author’? Eliminates the need to spell out each and every reserved right. And yes, I’m a lawyer 🙂