Fair terms in contracts

Are the contracts you are given by book publishers always fair? Illustrators, writers and other freelance creators are often presented with contracts for their work that are unfairly weighted in favour of the commissioner, assigning copyright rather than licensing the work, waivers of moral rights and low royalty percentages, and international pressure is being exerted on book publishers to reform their contracts.

AOI are closely involved in the Creators Rights Alliance (CRA) initiative Fair Terms for Creators campaign which is working towards fair terms for all creative freelancers. CRA members, the Society of Authors, have published an open letter to publishers which is aligned with this campaign, and most of its points apply equally to illustrators.

In the letter, Society of Authors Chief Executive Nicola Solomon says:

What we ask is simple: publishers need to revise many of their standard contract terms to make them more equitable. Authors should get at least 50% of ebook revenue, not a mere 25%. Authors should not have their hands tied with contracts which cannot be terminated when a book is no longer being exploited or be subject to non-compete and option clauses that make it even more difficult for them to write and publish new books.

Indemnity clauses should spread risk fairly between the publisher and the author. Royalty statements should be transparent and comprehensive. And we ask publishers not to discriminate against authors who don’t have powerful agents. When negotiating with agents publishers often start from previously negotiated forms that remove, or at least soften the blow of, some of the more draconian provisions offered to un agented authors.

Why not do the right thing by all authors and eliminate those provisions for everyone?

What are fair terms? The campaign for Fair Terms believe that there are seven areas of contract terms which need to be protected so that all creators are protected when they sign a contract. Go here to see the breakdown of fair terms and info on the American Authors Guild’s Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative

We will keep you updated as this campaign progresses.

8th January 2016

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