Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let's Not Get too Dramatic About Recording Rights...

If it's Thursday, it must be time for more subsidiary rights!

Last week's post addressed the merchandising clause, and this week we continue through John Q. Penman's fictitious publishing deal with a look at subsidiary rights clause (e):

(e) "Sound Reproduction" and "Non-Dramatic Reading" Rights, meaning the rights to create (or arrange for creation of), to publish, and to use (in all digital or electronic media) non-dramatic English language voice or digitized readings of all or any portion of the Work (including without limitation abridged and adapted editions), along with introductions, conclusions, and other narrative material, background music and/or background sounds, in all electronic media, including without limitation CDs, tape recordings, cassettes, and all other digital and electronic technologies now known or hereafter devised (individually and collectively, "Audio Editions"). 

Another dense clause, not easily parsed by unfamiliar eyes.

Let's dive right in.

Short version: the publisher is acquiring exclusive audio rights.

Longer version: this subparagraph grants the publisher the right to create (or hire someone else to create):

1. Non-dramatic readings and recordings of the Work, in all digital and electronic formats. (Note: this means "audiobooks" but also excerpts of readings for radio, etc.)

2. Introductory, concluding, and other narrative "material" - generally, this means an introduction or conclusion read by the actor doing the voice recording. (Note: the author has no right to review or approve this additional material.)

3. Background music and sounds, if desired by the publisher.

All things considered, this isn't a bad clause, though it's one John needs to remove if he's planning on selling his audio books rights separately from the book and e-book rights. 

 If the publisher has the capacity and intent to produce audiobooks, the clause itself isn't unreasonably onerous.

If John has experience with readings and voice work, he might want to ask for the chance to audition for non-dramatic readings produced by the publisher - if granted, such a clause would give John at least a chance to read for the audiobooks of his work. That said, many authors aren't the best selection for this job, so John will probably have to content himself with a chance to audition rather than a guarantee that his will be the voice on the audiobook.

Questions about the non-dramatic recording rights? Hop into the questions and let me know!

Posted by Susan Spann  
Susan Spann is a California publishing attorney and the author of Claws of the Cat (Minotaur Books, July 16, 2013), the first novel in the Shinobi Mystery series featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori. 


Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Susan -- when signing any contract for audio books, is it reasonable to request author approval of the recording before it's released?

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat!

You can request approval, but it's not a common thing for the author to get approval over the final recording. So absolutely ask, but don't break an otherwise good deal over it.

Nathan Lowell said...

Audio is huge for me. I started with podcast (serialized audio) versions of my novels and it gave me a huge leg up. It continues to introduce new people to my work every single day.

It's been fascinating for me to see the growth in the audio market that has occurred as the adoption of portable mp3 players and digital downloading has spread into the wider mainstream. Adding the ubiquity of smartphone access just increases the number of ears that an audiobook might reach.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

My eyes gloss over when it comes to legal wording, so thanks for making it easy to understand.

Marilynn Byerly said...

With the ongoing problem about how to define text-to-speech as a right (audio, text, or its own right), do you think it should be mentioned in a contract?

Unknown said...

What if the thought of my book being offered in abridged editions gives me hives? How hard is it to strike those parts, or is it even doable?