What kind of hyperlinks can my publisher insert in my e-book?

Q. I’m granting e-book rights, but not other electronic rights, to my publisher and I have been very specific in saying that the publisher can’t make any changes to the text or illustrations. The publisher is insisting on a clause that clearly states it has the right to insert hyperlinks, which makes sense to me since I know a lot of e-book programs allow the reader to click on a word to learn its definition. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t agree to the publisher’s clause?

A. The publisher’s request makes sense but, to protect yourself, you should include provisions covering the following:

  1. The hyperlinks will be added by the publisher and at its expense, and no cost incurred in connection with the hyperlinks will be charged to you.
  2. Publisher will remove, at its expense, any links to which you at any time object.
  3. If any hyperlinks are to a site that result in a transaction by the user and the publisher receives revenue from that transaction, you will be entitled to a percentage of that revenue. This percentage should be specified in the contract.

(Originally published in the Fall 2010/Winter 2011 issue of the Authors Guild Bulletin. © Mark L. Levine)

Answers to questions on this site are general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer for information about a particular situation. For more information about book publishing contracts and issues, see Levine’s book.

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