more lessons on negotiating a contributor’s contract

So the start of Open Access Week seems like a good prompt to share with you my latest round of negotiating with a publisher for a better contributor’s contract. I’ve written about earlier versions of this exercise before, from the initial steps to its happy conclusion, but so far it’s not something that feels natural and I repeatedly hear from others that they don’t know how to go about this.

The most recent exercise involves a commercial press that does a lot of scholarly publishing and a collection of Shakespeare-related essays. The contract I was sent (one page via snail mail) asked me to assign copyright to the publisher in exchange for one copy of the finished collection, with no provision for archiving or distributing the piece for teaching purposes. Here’s the key language:  § continue reading

a new contributor’s contact!

In my last post, I discussed the contibutor’s contact I had been presented with for a chapter I have in a forthcoming collection. It was much more restrictive than I liked, including requiring that I ask them before I reuse my material in my own future publications and not allowing for any digital repository use at all. After emailing my editors and the publisher, and going through some back-and-forth, I’m happy to say that they presented an alternative contributor’s contract that I’m willing to sign!

Here are the key details in how this happened for those of you who might be contemplating this sort of negotiation:

I let my volume editors know that I intended to do this. I’m not sure they entirely understood my objections (one pointed out that he’d already put his contribution on his institutional repository; I didn’t counter that that didn’t seem permissible according to the terms we were given). § continue reading

working with a contributor’s contract

6 July update below

So, on top of everything else I’m dealing with at the moment, I just got an email requesting a super fast turn-around on a contributor’s agreement for a chapter I wrote. The book collection has already been accepted and is already in production—it’s really not clear to me how things got this far along without contributor’s agreements being worked out. But it has. So here’s my situation: this agreement sucks. It leaves the contributor with no rights. It doesn’t even let me republish my own work in, say, my own monograph without asking the publisher for permission. Here are the key details:

  • “Author grants to the Publisher for the full term of copyright and any extensions thereto, the exclusive right and licence to edit, adapt, publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Contribution . . . in all forms, formats and media whether now known or hereafter developed (including without limitation in print, digital and electronic form) throughout the world”
  • Author grants to the Publisher the exclusive right and licence “to translate the Contribution into other languages, create adaptations, summaries or extracts of the Contribution or other derivative works based on the Contribution”
  • “The Author shall only be entitled to republish the Contribution with the Publisher’s prior written permission which shall not be unreasonably withheld, and provided that, when reproducing the Contribution or extracts from it, the Author acknowledge and reference first publication of the Contribution in the Work.”
  • “The Author irrevocably and unconditionally waives the Author’s moral right as provided in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to the extent the Publisher reasonably deems necessary to allow the Publisher to exercise and license the rights granted to the Publisher under this Agreement.” update: This sentence is preceded by one in which the Author asserts moral rights, so it looks as if I’m not being asked to waive all my moral rights, just the ones the Publisher wants me to.
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