International Calls for Action on Contracts

5 January 2016

The SoA has today written to publishers to ask them to help improve authors’ earnings by addressing contractual terms.

The letter is part of an international collective call to action on creator contracts. 

In an open letter, addressed to members of the Publishers’ Association and the Independent Publishers Guild, we ask publishers to take responsibility for their role in authors’ income by reviewing their contract terms and treatment of authors.

Studies across the world have shown that authors’ earnings are falling fast. Yet authors remain the only essential part of the creation of a book and it is in the interest of publishers to address this issue urgently.

While some publishers provide fair terms, we see many inequitable contracts. In the letter, Chief Executive Nicola Solomon explains:

Without serious contract reform the professional author will become an endangered species and publishers – as well as society at large – will be left with less and less quality content. Unless publishers treat their authors more equitably the decline in the number of full-time writers could have serious implications for the breadth and quality of content that drives the economic success and cultural reputation of our creative industries in the UK.

The letter asks publishers to follow the rule of C.R.E.A.T.O.R., seven key areas to make contracts fairer, including clarity, fair remuneration and reversion terms that allow authors to make the most of their work.

The letter also addresses the imbalance between treatment of authors with and without agents: 

When negotiating with agents publishers often start from previously negotiated forms that remove, or at least soften the blow of, some of the more draconian provisions offered to unagented authors. Why not do the right thing by all authors and eliminate those provisions for everyone?

We’re not the only ones asking for these simple and fair changes. Our letter is supported by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and coincides with the International Authors Forum’s 'Ten Principles of Fair Contracts' and a letter from the Authors Guild of America which we have co-signed along with many bodies around the world.  

Read the full letter

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