Monday, December 06, 2010

Publishing Law

Publishing law isn’t just for publishers - writers and authors need to understand the law, too.

Can I use a real person in my novel if I change the name?


What rights will I give up when I sign a book contract?


If I quote someone, do I need to obtain permission?


Can I publish a book of recipes I found on the web?

Legal questions arise during all phases of the writing process. Before pouring your heart into that next book, make sure you are within the law. If you are signing ANY book contract, you MUST check with a publishing law lawyer first.

An excellent resource for writers is Attorney at Law, Ivan Hoffman, B.A., J.D. He specializes in everything from entertainment and writing to web design and sports law.

Best of all, Ivan’s site is loaded with hundreds of free articles: writing and publishing; trademarks and domain names; music and songwriting; etc. If you have any legal questions in the area of entertainment, I suggest you visit Ivan’s site first.

Another great site for publishing law is The Publishing Law Center. It also features articles and resources.

So writers beware - get informed or get sued/taken!

33 comments:

Will Burke said...

Thanks for the reminder -- it can be so easy to step in something stinky! I'll go bookmark those sites.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

These things are good to know!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post - and thanks for the link! :) I'm heading over to check it all out

Stephen Tremp said...

Great advice. I hear a lot of people say when they hit the big time the first thing they did was hire a good attorney. We live in a litigous society and you have to be smart and educated about what you can do and what you should not do.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Excellent advice. Nothing is simple in the legal world and the one thing you don't know is going to come back and bite you someday. I'm saving those links. Thanks.

Jules said...

Great, not only do I have to come up with my own idea, I have to make your I don't sue myself. Is that right? :D

Nice links and thanks.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Tamara Narayan said...

Thanks for the info. My current ms has song titles and bits of lyrics from famous songs, so I'm curious about whether I can use them under 'fair-use' or if I'll need to get permission.

Jo-Jo said...

I've often wondered about a few of these with some books that I have read.

Chris Phillips said...

I need to go read a few of those free articles.

Laura Marcella said...

Great tips!

notesfromnadir said...

Great advice & thanks for the links!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wow, thanks for those links, Diane. Ivan's site has all sorts of goodies I'd never would have thought about. I've saved both sites to favorites.

Hart Johnson said...

This is one of the reasons I feel so personally committed to the agent model (personal as in... it is a must for ME--I am just not detail oriented enough to think I can handle the legal angle). My agent is an attorney, for which I am grateful. (my only college C was Business Law; makes my teeth hurt just to think about it)

Raquel Byrnes said...

I agree with Hart about the agent model. Not sure I can tackle a whole other profession on top of worrying about writing.
So glad that an agent's job is to navigate you through those murky legal waters, but if you choose an alternate route to publishing its so wonderful that there are reliable sources out there.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

The Golden Eagle said...

Thanks for the advice, and the links! There's so much to know, if you want to avoid getting ripped off, and/or breaking the law yourself.

Jai Joshi said...

Thanks for these resource, Diane.

Jai

KarenG said...

Thanks for sharing the links on this important topic. Another area is using song lyrics-- a vERY touchy issue that is best avoided altogether!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I've bookmarked both sites for future reference. Thanks!

Monti said...

Thanks for the good article and the links. It's so easy to forget ...

Monti
MaryMontagueSikes

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm glad so many of you are bookmarking these sites! I'm on a ListServ with Ivan and it's fascinating to hear his responses.

The Words Crafter said...

I know the answer to the first one!!!! I wrote a letter to Dean Koontz asking similar questions and he actually wrote back...way back in 95.

This is critical stuff, bookmarking... and thanks for the links and the post!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Great post, and great links to bookmark for future use.

Thank you.

Arlee Bird said...

Terrific resources. These are keepers.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

What a great reminder this is! Thank you!

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging writers resources at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com

Robyn Campbell said...

Thanks for this great post. Checking out your links now. :)

Clarissa Draper said...

It's wonderful to have this information. Thank you.
CD

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sometimes I see something in a book and I can't believe it is legal. Thanks for the links.

Susan Fields said...

Great advice - thanks for the links!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Those are great questions! I never thought to look for legal advice on the web. Thanks for the links.

Susanne Drazic said...

Thanks for sharing these links. I've put them in my favorites folder. Great questions, great advice.

Talli Roland said...

Great reminder - ignorance is no excuse, either. I was amazed how lawyers can be so thorough and nit-picky when it comes to mansucripts - that's their job, I know.

I also bought a really useful book on publishing contracts. Of course I can't remember the name of it now...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Talli, if you do remember it, let me know!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Excellent information, Diane. Thanks for these links.