Writers

A writer is anyone who creates a written work, though the word usually designates those who write creatively or professionally, as well as those who have written in many different forms.  A writer in the context of print media is a person who originates or gives existence to a copy of written work.  A media writer may compose in many different forms including poetry, prose, or music and may be specialized as a poet, novelist, copywriter, composer, lyricist, playwright, mythographer, or journalist.  They are also referred to as authors.

Writers commonly sell their works through selling first serial rights, by issuing a license of one-time rights, second serial rights or by selling license of all rights; in book publishing contracts writers may sell subsidiary rights; and they may also work for hire.

A writer selling First Serial Rights sells a newspaper, magazine or periodical the right to publish the story, article or poem for the first time in any periodical.  All other rights remain with the author.  First Serial Rights may be limited by geographical area.

A license of one-time rights, or simultaneous rights, grants the licensee the right to publish the work one time. This is a non-exclusive right that enables the author to sell one-time rights to several publications at once.

A license of Second Serial Rights gives any publication the right to publish the story, article or poem of the author after it has already been published by another periodical.  Second Serial Rights are also nonexclusive and the author may license the piece to more than one publication.

By giving a license of All Rights an author gives up all rights he or she owns in the work. The publisher has the liberty to publish the work in any format — print, film, electronic formats such as CD ROMs, and on the Internet without providing additional payment to the author.  The author retains the right to state his/her authorship, but loses all the other rights to the work, including the right to publish, market or distribute the work, to create derivative works, or to perform the work.

In book publishing contracts, subsidiary rights are all rights owned by the author other than the right to publish the book.  Subsidiary rights are negotiable in a book contract and it will cover such potentially valuable rights as movie, film, videotape and audiotape rights, electronic rights such as CD ROM publishing, translation rights, book club rights, foreign rights etc.  Subsidiary rights may be retained by the author such that their agent can negotiate separate deals for each of the rights.  Subsidiary rights may also be sold to the book publisher so that the publisher can negotiate the rights.

Title 17 of the U.S. Code provides protection to original works of authors.  It holds the title of “author” over any “literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, or other intellectual works.”  It gives the owner of the copyright, exclusive rights to do or authorize any production or distribution of their work.  Any one who wishes to use intellectual property held under copyright must receive permission from the copyright holder to use this work, and often will be asked to pay for the use of copyrighted material.  After a fixed amount of time, the copyright expires on intellectual work and it enters the public domain, where it can be used without limit.  Copyright is merely the legal reassurance that one owns his/her work.  Technically, someone owns their work from the time it’s created.  The authorship of copyright can be passed down to another upon one’s death.  The person who inherits the copyright enjoys the same legal benefits even though he is not the author.


Inside Writers