Entertainment, Sports & Leisure Law


Key Takeaways:

  • Publishing attorneys can draft and negotiate publishing contracts to protect publishers’ interests.
  • A publishing attorney is different from a publishing agent and acts in the best interests of their client.
  •  If there is a legal dispute, a publishing lawyer can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages for the publisher’s losses.

The needs of the publishing industry are constantly changing. Traditional publishing may still include printing hardcover novels. But publishers also have to think about ebooks, social media, audiobooks, and podcasts as part of the publishing world. Publishers should consider a holistic approach to publishing agreements to protect their legal rights.

A publishing attorney can help publishers negotiate contracts, review intellectual property rights issues, and litigate publishing legal disputes. Ask a publishing and entertainment lawyer for legal advice if you have questions.

What Does a Publishing Lawyer Do?

Entertainment lawyers generally provide legal services in transactional work or civil litigation. A lot of the work publishing lawyers do is planning and preparation work with author agreements, publishing contracts, and grant-of-rights agreements. Transactional legal work can protect your financial interests and offer protection in the event of a contract dispute.

A publishing lawyer can represent you in court when there are legal disputes to resolve. A lawyer can file lawsuits, recover damages, and negotiate on your behalf before a judge or in mediation, arbitration, or other alternative dispute resolution settings.

Is a Publishing Lawyer Different Than a Literary Agent?

An attorney is different from an agent. An agent generally has an agency agreement with an author or publisher to get a commission or cut of the money received. For example, if a literary agent gets a publishing deal for an author, the agent may take a percentage of the money paid to the author. An attorney generally works based on a flat-fee rate or hourly rate and represents their client’s interests.

Lawyers also have a legal and ethical duty to their clients; agents do not. Lawyers have a fiduciary duty to their clients and must act in their best interests. Attorneys also have a duty of confidentiality. Anything you confide in your lawyer will remain private.

Only lawyers can provide legal advice to their clients. Legal advice can involve:

  • Reviewing the legal rights and obligations under a contract
  • Telling you about your legal options
  • Representing you in negotiations or courtroom litigation

What Does a Publisher Need to Include in a Publishing Contract?

A publishing contract should lay out the publishing rights, duties, and obligations of all parties involved. Publishing agreements should also include contingency plans for what happens if there is a breach of contract or if one party cannot fulfill the terms of the contract.

Unfortunately, many publishers, distributors, literary agencies, and authors use form contracts or templates. These form contracts may not address specific concerns of the parties. These boilerplate forms may not even be valid under state laws.

A publishing industry attorney can help you draft and negotiate complete book publishing contracts to include important terms and conditions, including:

  • Subsidiary rights
  • Exclusive rights for publishing
  • Foreign rights
  • Audiobook rights
  • Adaptation rights
  • Author’s rights
  • Book sales royalties
  • Copyright infringement
  • Warranties

When a publishing attorney drafts a written contract, they ensure the agreement protects your financial interests. This includes adding legal protections if there is a dispute with an author or another publishing house. With a clear agreement that lays out the legal rights and responsibilities of both the author and publisher, the parties can maintain a good professional relationship. This helps continue with reprints and the publishing process for the author’s work in the future.

How Can a Lawyer Help Publishers With Intellectual Property Disputes?

A proper publishing agreement can reduce the risk of intellectual property law disputes with publishing companies. But when legal issues arise, your attorney can represent you in any courtroom litigation. An attorney can negotiate a settlement to ensure you get fair compensation for your work.

If you cannot negotiate a fair settlement, your attorney can fight for you in court if you’ve suffered a breach of contract or copyright violation. A successful civil lawsuit can help you recover financial compensation for losses, including economic damages and attorney fees.

Whether in New York or a small town, you need a publishing attorney. If you have questions about your creative work and rights, even if you’re self-publishing, talk to an experienced entertainment lawyer about your legal needs.

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