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In this brand new episode of the All Things Book Marketing podcast, we speak with Joseph Perry, a publishing attorney and literary agent at The Law Offices of Joseph J. Perry, P.C., and Perry Literary. Perry talks to us about permissions, copyright, AI, and more. Let’s dive in…
What does a literary attorney do?
Joseph shares that as a literary attorney, he drafts and negotiates all types of publishing related agreements, from traditional agreements to ghost writing, to freelance and collaboration agreements. Literary attorneys can review manuscripts for copyright issues, trademark issues, libel, right of privacy, registering copyrights, etc.
What agreements does a writer need?
If an author has written a book with somebody else or it’s a children’s book and illustrated by somebody else, they will need a collaboration agreement. If it’s an anthology, they will likely need a contributor agreement to make sure that they cross all their Ts and dot their Is in terms of who owns what for the intellectual property.
Outside of that, the agreements authors need depends on which publishing route they go. If they go with a hybrid publisher, they will need the hybrid agreement to be negotiated. If you’re going with a traditional publisher, you’ll need a traditional agreement (which is very similar). If you are having someone edit your book, you’ll need an editorial agreement. There are also illustrator agreements, publicity agreements, and more.
Does a literary attorney review manuscripts?
Yes, a literary attorney will review a manuscript for certain big issues, the biggest of which is copyright (making sure that what you’ve taken is fair use if you haven’t asked for permission). Another big one to review for is libel and right for privacy, which is especially relevant for memoirs. Memoirs are tricky and when you are talking about people in your real life, you will likely want to be very sensitive in creating a composite character: changing the gender, name, characteristics, location, etc. Another consideration is: is that passage absolutely essential to your book? Will it cause more trouble than it’s worth?
What does “permission” look like in the literary world? How do you make sure you have permission to use something/someone’s quote?
As all good attorneys will say, “you need to get it in writing.” If you’re dealing with an everyday, average person (like an acquaintance, etc.), it’s likely good enough to ask permission in writing, letting the person know who you are and how you’ll be using the material. If you’re dealing with a bigger company or a more sophisticated actor, you will need to be much more detailed in how you’re using the material.
What about AI? How does that impact the literary world?
Tremendously! This is going to be a whole conversation in and of itself, so we will hold a webinar soon to go over the details and implications of AI. Stay tuned, as there is clearly much to consider when it comes to navigating the literary world from a law perspective! Thank you for your insight, Joe. For more information, be sure to tune in to the full podcast episode.
Joseph Perry is a publishing attorney and literary agent at The Law Offices of Joseph J. Perry, P.C. and Perry Literary. As an attorney, Joseph counsels clients in the publishing industry, where he drafts and negotiates various publishing agreements, conducts legal reviews of manuscripts, registers copyrights, and helps authors start their own publishing companies. As an agent he represents bestselling cookbook authors, athletes, musicians, journalists, influencers, academics, and more. Joseph obtained his Juris Doctor from St. John’s University School of Law and a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Bonaventure University. He is a graduate of New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute. You can learn more at www.josephperrylaw.com and www.perryliterary.com.