0333 014 4568

Employment & HR - Author Agreement

Authors are influential in almost every form of media that exists in the world. They are prevalent in the realms of published literature, newspapers and magazines, music, film, website development – the list goes on!

Unfortunately, many people do not have the literary prowess to put pen to paper in any meaningful way. The command of language is a hot commodity, and we always advise the use of a professional author where the message cannot be suitably articulated without one. Accordingly, we offer our services to assist authors as well as those that wish to contract with them.

There are numerous different agreements in which authors are involved. These include:

  • Publishing agreements for authors that are seeking to have their work printed and published for their own commercial gain;
  • Script writing agreements for authors that are producing scripts for film, TV or stage performances; and
  • Ghost writing agreements for authors that are assisting their clients in producing documentation on their behalf.

In our experience, one of the most important concerns for an author is that of the ownership of the intellectual property rights in the work that they create.

Depending on the circumstances, an author may wish to retain such ownership, and therefore merely licence the ownership to someone else, or they may wish to sell their work outright.

When concerned with published literature, an author would probably wish to retain the ownership, or at least part of it, when the work in question is a novel. Sometimes the print publisher may wish to own a percentage of the final work, and the key to an agreement of this sort is to ensure the wording anticipates potential disputes as to ownership and remuneration that may arise in the future.

In respect of script writers, the work is sometimes new and original or is sometimes based on an existing novel or short story. It is important to handle the intellectual property rights in any script properly, ensuring that there is a clear line from the originator of the work. For example there should be a link between the author of the novel being adapted or the author of the original script, and the final owner of the work, such as the production company or director of the project.

The work that ghost writers carry out is slightly different, although the challenges relating to ownership and remuneration are similar to the other types of work that authors can produce. Where a ghost writer is relying on pre-existing material to produce a work, it is likely that the client will want to take ownership of the intellectual property rights in the final work upon the completion of the author’s instructions – this will often be accompanied by a waiver in respect of the author’s moral rights.

We will be happy to discuss the important legal issues that face authors when undertaking their work. We can explain how the ownership of intellectual property rights, including economic rights and moral rights, can affect the content of any author agreement.

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