Our campaign to improve contract terms is gathering pace as we meet with individual publishers and continue to push for legislation.
Particular concerns are to futureproof contracts so that authors can benefit by negotiating terms when new modes of exploitation arise, rather than in advance and reversion clauses so that unexploited rights can be returned to authors. Other terms that are often weighted against authors include indemnities, non-competition and option clauses.
The meetings follow the open letter we sent to publishers earlier this year, part of a coordinated international movement. In February we met with the Independent Publishers Guild and the Publishers Association to talk about our C.R.E.A.T.O.R principles for fair contracts and revisit their Codes of Practice.
Since then we have met with publishers including Profile, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Canongate, Faber and Faber, Harper Collins and Hachette to discuss the terms they offer in detail. These conversations are confidential but we are delighted that so many have been receptive to our requests and in some cases are considering amending terms or discussing boilerplates with us. We strongly believe that fair terms benefit not only creators but the whole industry and signing up to them gives publishers credibility and competitive advantage.
We have also been having discussions with the Association of Authors’ Agents, Publishing Scotland and Lord Tim Clement Jones, the Liberal Democrat Culture spokesman in the House of Lords.
We launched C.R.E.A.T.O.R. last year and the campaign has now been adopted by the Creators Rights Alliance. As well as talking to publishers, agents and politicians we’re working alongside other professional bodies for creators to keep pressing the need for legislation:
Our Chief Executive Nicola Solomon spoke to The Bookseller about what the campaign is hoping to achieve:
Legislation alone isn’t the solution, but it is necessary to make sure every creator is protected and so there are clear baselines.
This is the right time to address this issue, with the Consumer Rights Act passed only last year. When dealing with big companies, for instance Amazon, authors should be protected in the same way consumers are because they are in no position to negotiate terms.
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of the campaign. Please continue to spread the message using the hashtag #fairterms on social media.