Thursday, April 26, 2012

Magazine Rights, Part II

Last month I described the rights that magazines buy most often, and I promised to describe additional rights this month. And even though I'm in the middle of moving, I believe in keeping my promises. So here are other common types of rights.

One-time rights allow the magazine to publish your article or story once. If the publication wants to print it again, it must get your permission.

If you grant simultaneous rights, you are probably selling the article or story or poem to more than one publication. As the name implies, simultaneous rights allow several magazines to publish the piece at the same time. They are not the same as reprint rights since this could be the first time you sold the item.

If you don't say what you are selling and the magazine doesn't say what it is buying, it gets nonexclusive rights. This doesn't restrict your ability to sell the article or story or poem again, but it gives the publication the right to reprint the piece in subsequent editions of its magazine without further payment. You can also explicitly agree to sell nonexclusive rights.

A work-for-hire doesn't belong to you and never did. (I discussed works-for-hire in my November 25, 2010 post.) The end result is similar to selling all rights. However, there are times when works-for-hire are better than selling all rights. That's because some magazines allow the writer of a work-for-hire to publish it elsewhere. Make sure you read your contract to see what you can do.

Rights can be modified by agreement, and even if the magazine doesn't make you sign a contract, you still have one. In that case, the contract will usually combine the terms of your submission letter, the publisher's acceptance letter, and the submission guidelines. If your submission letter offers one type of rights and the publisher doesn't object, that is what you have sold. If the publisher says it will buy different rights and you don't object, then the acceptance letter governs. If both letters are silent but the submission guidelines tell you what the magazine buys, that is what you are selling. So read the submission guidelines carefully.

Because it's important to know your rights.

Kathryn Page Camp

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