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Understanding Book Publishing Agreements: Territory

July 2, 2021

Insight by Attorney Mitch Tuchman

Mitch Tuchmann - Copyright Lawyer Durham - Intellectual Property Attorney

What Are Martians Reading This Season?

Does your publisher sell books on Mars or license rights on Venus?  If not, then “throughout the universe,” which we see from time to time as the defined territory in publishing agreements, is not appropriate.  Perhaps the publisher simply does not want to risk being left without a toehold in outer space in an age of rapid media development.  There are better ways to accomplish that in book publishing agreements, such as identifying a plausible territory and granting rights in all media “now known or hereafter invented.”

The territory stipulated in a publishing agreement should be the territory where the publisher has an expectation of sales to customers or sublicensees and, better yet, a documented track record of having done so.  Worldwide is too wide if the publisher does not serve overseas territories itself or through reputable foreign associates, and a publisher who claims the entire British Commonwealth ought to know what that comprises.

Ascertain the territories your publisher can serve effectively and negotiate a reversion with respect to any rights in any territory not actually served within the initial term of the agreement.

This is the 3rd article in a series intended to introduce readers to publishing agreements. Other articles in this series include:

New to Publishing Agreements? What You Need to Know
How Long Should a Book Publishing Agreement Endure