Jon Tandler, Ryley Carlock & Applewhite Attorneys
How did you get your start in publishing law?While I was practicing corporate law in San Francisco in 1988, I was asked to provide legal work for the publishers of a series of popular coffee table books. They had just moved their company from New York and wanted local counsel. Having no experience in publishing or intellectual property, I said "yes!" I read books on copyright law and started to work on projects; I oftentimes tapped into the expertise of their New York counsel who still today is an icon in publishing law and amentor to me.In 1990 the president of a new tradebook publisher, IDG Books Worldwide, called and asked me to prepare his company's author publisher agreement. IDG Books created and released the For Dummies series of computer and general reference books several months later! I served asIDG Books' outside publishing counsel from its inception through its sale to Wiley Publishing over a decade later.This was a tremendous learning experience. I first started to teach publishing law in 1994. From my client work and presentations, I've enjoyed meeting and working with professionals who work in many different facets of the publishing industry.
What are two basic things to remember when preparing a contract with an author and/or freelancer?Author-publisher agreements are typically different and a little moreinvolved than freelance agreements. An author-publisher agreementis primary and subsidiary rights royalty-based with calculations. A freelanceagreement is often structured simply with payment upon receipt of acceptablematerial without royalty calculations .Develop and customize agreements toreflect your company's particular content acquisition, publishing and financial models; not one size fits all.
What is the biggest mistake you have seen? What can we learn from it?I think the best way to answer this question is to mention something I say when I teach: "It's easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble."I did not make up that homily and do not know who did. As examples only, a publisher should do the following:use best practices in the permissions process;
Failure to do these things cost time and money when problems arise. Lloyd Rich and I are speaking about a few of these topics at the PubWest annual meeting in November.
What question should you ask a prospective attorney?Whenever you seek legal advice for (an employment question, preparing a will or estate plan, reviewing or preparing a lease, trademark advice or a divorce), askyour prospective attorney about his/her work and experience in the field and with your type of matter or project.Understand the actual work that will be necessary to properly handle your matter and obtain clear information on how the attorney will charge for that work and what he/she expects in terms of the resulting legal fees and expenses.
Jon Tandler is a corporate, intellectual property and publishing lawattorney with Ryley Carlock & Applewhite Attorneys of Denver, CO,and Phoenix, AZ. He also volunteers as PubWest's general counsel.He can be reached at 303-813-6706 or firstname.lastname@example.org.