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Old 05-20-2010, 01:08 PM   #1
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Can a contract agreement be modified?

I have received a notice from the new owners of a publication I have contributed to in the past asking me to sign a 'rights agreement.' The agreement basically grants them exclusive use of all things I ever have written or will write, for their own use now or in the future on any medium now existing or that can be invented in the future etc. In exchange, they will send me a cheque for a small amount.

I want to keep contributing to this publication but the agreement sounds very restrictive to me. I am okay with them using the stuff as they see fit, but I would like it to be NON-exclusive, so that I can use it too. I am worried about this 'any medium now or in the ftuture' aspect. I don't *think* my stuff is worth that much (it's more a news-ish type thing) but I do not know what technology or mediums might come up down the road so I want to retain non-exclusive use of my own stuff.

How do I negotiate this? Is there any room for negotiation in such a situation?
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:22 PM   #2
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Part of the definition of contract is 'meeting of minds', as evidenced by two signatures. There's usually room for negotiation, unless the other side is very large. I sent back my last contract, unsigned, with some clauses rewritten, then sat back and waited; they eventually agreed. They may want you to give up some (or all) of that 'small amount of money' if you want to retain some (or all) rights to your own work. My work contract pretty well gives up all my rights to the programs I write because they are 'works for hire' -- but then again, I get enough money to live off of just that one job. It does come down to what you think your work is worth, now and in the future. You might check out the Creative Commons licenses, and try to suggest on of them to the company, but that might be way off base.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
The agreement basically grants them exclusive use of all things I ever have written or will write, for their own use now or in the future on any medium now existing or that can be invented in the future etc. In exchange, they will send me a cheque for a small amount.

I want to keep contributing to this publication but the agreement sounds very restrictive to me.
Have they suggested that they wouldn't continue to accept your contributions unless you sign the rights agreement?
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Old 05-20-2010, 04:42 PM   #4
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Let me get this straight: This publisher wants you to give them exclusive rights to all your work for the rest of your life? At least, the thrust of your post implies this.

I would advise against signing the rights agreement (as described by your post).

Anytime you're signing away all rights to a work to someone you should be expected to receive a nice chunk of money. For example, an artist will sell you reproduction rights to their work for $100, sell you print for $10, but if you buy the original and all rights they will want $2000.

Just my .02.

**Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, just dispensing advice learned through my work as a publisher**
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:06 PM   #5
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I'd have to echo what others have said. Giving someone exclusive rights forever is a REALLY bad idea. Standard industry rights are either two or three years. Also, contract negotiation should always be just that...a negotiation, not an order.

Best,
Jay Hartman
Editor-In-Chief
Untreed Reads Publishing
http://www.untreedreads.com
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Old 05-21-2010, 05:10 AM   #6
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Is there a contract currently in existence, FicBot? Neil
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