Writers Must Monitor Licensing

Recently, I wrote about Fair Use, the concept of using certain material for review, research, critique, etc.

What I want to relate to you today is not about Fair Use per se, it is about the need for writers to monitor what is done with their work, i.e., Fair Use, as well as how licensing agreements are executed.

A couple of years ago, Jon Krakauer sued Houghton Mifflin Co. and RR Donnelley & Sons Co. He alleged that they had infringed his copyright for the best-selling novel Into Thin Air. They had contracted with him to reprint several thousand copies of an excerpt from his novel to be included in a ninth-grade textbook. Instead, they reprinted more than a million.

Writers need to monitor the results from contracts to make sure the licensing activity is that to which they have agreed. This is one of those situations where you know what to do, but you don't know how to precisely go about it. If you're a big name author, high up on the food chain, it's easier because you have an agent and probably legal representation who can follow up on these issues.

For midlist and below, this is a DIY project that may be next to impossible.

Takeaway Truth

It's not enough to be a good writer. One must also be an astute business person as well.

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