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Can my publisher cheat me of my royalties by selling my book through its subsidiaries?

Q. Royalties on two textbooks I wrote are being watered down because my 1980s contracts didn’t anticipate sales of e-textbooks or rentals of my textbooks in regular and digital formats. More importantly, the contracts didn’t anticipate that my publisher would own or control the companies that handle its digital and rental copies. As a result,…

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Is there a standard definition of “electronic rights”?

Q. Is there a standard definition of “electronic rights”? A. No, not for “electronic rights” nor for the many different rights encompassed in that term. (Some contracts use “multimedia rights” instead of “electronic rights,” but there is no agreement on what that term means either.) Most electronic rights definitions used in publishers’ contracts are too…

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What does “net” mean in the royalties and subsidiary rights sections?

Q. My publishing contract doesn’t define “net.” It’s used in both the royalties and subsidiary rights sections. What does it mean? A. “Net” is one of the worst terms for authors to leave undefined in a contract. “Net” – more typically, “net proceeds” or “net receipts” – is what is left after various expenses are…

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What are “derivative rights”? Should I grant them to my publisher?

Q. My publisher just sent me its new contract for my next book. Among the rights I’m being asked to grant are “derivative rights” in my book. The term is not defined in the contract but my editor tells me that it is defined in the copyright law. Is that okay? A. Definitions are a…

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