Know Your Rights: Electronic Media Rights and Other Rights

Electronic Media Rights

Publishers are including clauses to cover rights you may not even think of. Some of these, like computer and other electronic media rights, may seem worthless when you are selling your book, but may prove to be quite valuable in our high-tech future.

Educational software, computer games and interactive novels for use on home computers, DVDs for home instruction and entertainment, and electronic databases which would be accessed through computer services, are some rights that may be commonly exercised.

Other rights

Other subsidiary rights like filmstrips/AV materials, audio recordings, large type editions and Braille editions for the blind may or many not go along with the book sale. Although budget cuts have forced educational institutions to limit spending in the area of filmstrips/AV materials, it’s still a market possibility. If you think your book could profitably be made into filmstrips or other AV materials for sale to institutions, organizations or even the general public, discuss this with your agent or publisher. These rights will probably not bring in a lot of money, and with the availability of DVD-players, the markets for filmstrips and transparencies are shrinking.

Audio rights for books on compact disks are a growing market more publishers are pursuing. These rights, to the entire book or to excerpts, can be sold separately. They can be divided and sold as direct mail-order rights or as retail rights. These rights can be exercised to sell combination book-tape packages.

Large print editions are appreciated by people with limited vision. Bowker has a directory of these that will help you get a sense of how attractive your book might be to this specialized market. The money isn’t terrific, but the markets for these books are increasing as our population ages.

Braille editions and other editions for the physically handicapped are rights usually given away in the copyright application, and I recommend allowing the publisher to grant the right for copies to be made by the Library of Congress’ Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, with no recompense to the author so long as the publisher also receives no recompense.

Novelties, merchandising rights or product spin-offs to your book could involve things like toys, dolls, stuffed animals or cartoons derived from your children’s book character, T-shirts, coffee mugs, coloring books, cocktail napkins, posters, puzzles, calendars, kits, lunch boxes, pencils, games, buttons, greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap, rubber stamps—almost anything that can be derived from your book, its illustrations or its characters.

Commercial rights can accompany either fiction or nonfiction. If you have good ideas that seem appropriate for your book, discuss these with your agent; it may be in your best interest to retain all commercial rights.

Continued on Page 6, Protecting Your Rights

Copyright 1993, 1994, and 1998 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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