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What does 'buying the rights' mean?

(5 Posts)
LyssaM Mon 23-Apr-12 08:27:02

I enjoy writing and put up a piece @ 70k words long on fiction press.

Someone has got in touch with me asking to buy the rights to it. Any idea what this means?

Thanks in advance.

LadySybilDeChocolate Mon 23-Apr-12 22:36:50

It means that they want all copyrights for this. You won't be able to reproduce it, depending on the contract, and you won't be able to sell it to any other publisher. You can get an agent to sort this out for you, they will make sure you get a good amount and the terms are in your best interest, it will cost you about 15% of the income though. Don't sign or agree to anything until you've decided whether you want an agent or not. If it's already been published, even online, then they won't recieve the first rights to it though. Be very careful, research the other party thoroughly as there's a lot of scammers out there. Are they global or UK rights?

Berts Wed 02-May-12 11:23:44

First, the rights are rights to do what they want with your piece of writing. From the moment you set it down in writing, your words become a piece of property which you automatically own. The only value in this property is the Copyright (which gives you the right to sell it in any form, publish online or in print, adapt it to another form such as a film script, or pretty much do whatever you want with it)

Selling the rights is complicated: which rights do they want?

Think of your copyright as a pie, that can be cut into as many slices as you like - what slices do they want?

Rights are split into three main categories: Territory; Time; Media.

So first, what Territory do they want the rights for - UK and Eire? The whole of Europe? The world?

What time period: forever (In Perpetuity)? Five years?

What Media: Book? eBook? Film adaptation? TV adaptation? Serialisation and/or Sequel rights? Video game and other spin off rights?

Also, who has asked for the rights? What else have they done?

If they want the rights for no money, this is not legal. For a transfer of copyright to be legal, there must be an exchange of money (even if it is only £1).

Be aware that once you have sold the rights to all or part of your copyright piece, you cannot exercise those rights yourself or sell them to anyone else. So, for example, if you sell them the right to publish your work online in the UK for the next 5 years (after which rights revert to you, the author), then you cannot yourself publish it anywhere online, enter it into any competitions, or allow anyone else to publish it or part of it online.

If you have only sold the online rights though, you can still enter into a deal to have the writing published in a book or magazine that is offline. It may be less attractive to publishers though if it has already been made widely available online.


ameliagrey Wed 02-May-12 19:52:48

You'd me mad to see all rights unless they were giving you LOTS of money. You will lose control of what you written and basically it will belong to someone else to reproduce and use in any shape or form they want.

have you tried to have it published through the conventional channels because if someone wants it then maybe other publishers would be interested?

daytoday Wed 02-May-12 20:51:16

What do they want the rights for?

I'd find out more about the person.

Do they want to make a film? Are they from a good company?

You could sell them an 'option' which gives them a time period to do hold for a specific purpose.

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