Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Has a publisher held your book hostage for 35 years? Here's a way to get the rights back, legal and free.

 I actually sold my first book when I was a pre-teen, okay, 24 years old. That was back in the Dark Ages, pre-internet, heck, pre-personal computers. There was a huge publishing boom then-- paperback originals-- and I know there are many like me who assumed then that the "7-year-limited-license" meant that the publisher only got the use of the book for 7 years. Silly me!

 In fact, publishers had all sorts of ways to keep extending that license without our permission, keeping our own books from us for decades with minimal payment and no new contract.

But... Congress enacted a rule allowing artists of all kinds (Paul McCartney used this for his old songs) to regain the rights to their works after 35 years post-sale. There's now a five-year period where we can easily reclaim the rights to our own works. 

You can learn more about that here:

Reclaiming your copyright after 35 years: a new opportunity    

Starting in 2013, authors began to have the ability to reclaim copyrights they transferred to a publisher in 1978 or later. Copyright law permits authors to reclaim their copyrights 35 years after transferring rights for purposes of publication. Authors interested in reclaiming copyright need to file a notice in advance, according to a designated timetable.

Reclaiming copyright allows the author to make new publishing arrangements, including making the work openly available on the web, or taking advantage of new economic opportunities.

Take back the rights! :)


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