Legal Corner

Sheila J. Levine, Esq.

Sheila J. Levine

(212) 866-5353

These Notes on contracts and other legal issues are prepared by Sheila J. Levine, Esq. for writers unfamiliar with the pitfalls of authorship and publication. They are more general in nature than intended to be definitive of the subjects examined, thus should not be taken as answers to particular legal problems. The Notes may not include exceptions to general rules or take into account specific factual circumstances that may result in a different conclusion. They are not intended as personal legal advice and should not be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship. Questions of law, construction of legal documentsand remedies for perceived violations of rights should be addressed to a publishing attorney.

Sunday, 26 October, 2014 - 08:51

Characters As Protectable Assets Do Not Survive Copyright Termination

Co-author Gerald M. Levine Characters as protectable assets do not survive copyright termination of the works in which they appear even though they may continue to live on in works that continue in copyright.  All works published prior to January 1, 1923 are in the public domain, a vast repository of cultural wealth available for […]

The post Characters As...

Wednesday, 11 June, 2014 - 13:09

Responding to Copyright Infringement

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., decided on May 19, 2014, waited 18 years to bring suit. The majority held that laches cannot be invoked as a bar to pursuing a claim for infringement damages brought within a backward-looking three-year statute of limitations […]

The post Responding to Copyright...

Monday, 4 November, 2013 - 21:13

Internet Subscription Libraries

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine New Internet subscription libraries are offering to “lend” digital books based on subscription models that brick and mortar lending libraries in England invented in the 19th Century.  For $X dollars per time period subscribers gain access to vast collections of backlist and self-published books at less cost and with none of […]

The post Internet Subscription Libraries...

Wednesday, 10 April, 2013 - 11:40

Terminating Exclusive Licenses

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Terminating exclusive licenses after the passage of time is a statutory right. The Copyright Act of 1976 decrees that the author shall have a right exercisable only once for each separate literary work under exclusive license and for a brief window of time after 35 years from the date of a […]

The post Terminating Exclusive Licenses appeared first on...

Sunday, 31 March, 2013 - 11:44

A Time of Change in Book Publishing Models

C0-author Gerald M. Levine The publishing world is in a time of change. A vortex of change for book publishing models.  There has been a steady flow of news reports, court filings by the Department of Justice, judicial decisions followed by settlements, merger announcements, controversial contract terms for new digital imprints and much more besides. […]

The post A Time of Change in Book...

Friday, 15 February, 2013 - 09:03

Authors and Domain Names

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Productive authors increase in status and over time become recognized by the general public as the source of their literary works. At the beginning of a career authors simply start out as names.  They become brands when readers recognize them as sources for goods and services in a trademark sense.  Names […]

The post Authors and Domain Names appeared first on...

Friday, 16 November, 2012 - 08:05

Author’s Right to Compensation for Intellectual Production

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine An author’s income generally comes from royalties and licensing revenues for works which are protected by copyright. He has a right to compensation for intellectual production.  Section 102(a) of the U.S. Copyright Act states that “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression” are protected by copyright.  By […]

The post ...

Friday, 14 September, 2012 - 08:51

Wariness in Granting Rights to Aggregators

Originally published as a Guest Blog on Writer Beware® September 7, 2012 Co-author, Gerald M. Levine There is a reason for authors to be wary in granting permission for their blogs to be published by aggregaters. Authors create the content blog aggregators need for their web collections. Each gains in different ways. For the aggregator, […]

The post Wariness in Granting Rights to Aggregators...

Tuesday, 4 September, 2012 - 18:07

Consequences of an Unsatisfactory Manuscript

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine The traditional publishing process begins with an editor’s enthusiastic response to an author’s outline, proposal, and sample chapter, followed by an offer and contract from the publisher.  Once the contract is signed the focus shifts to the quality of the final manuscript. The publishing contract includes a “d...

Thursday, 23 August, 2012 - 08:17

Exclusive Rights for Exploiting Literary Works

Co-author, Gerald M. Levine Publishers expect and demand exclusive rights for exploiting literary works. When lawyers talk about “standard” clauses and courts refer to publishing contracts as “standard agreements” it is not to suggest that there is a standard form such as we expect for certain real estate transactions. What we mean by “standard” is […]

The post Exclusive Rights for...

Tuesday, 10 April, 2012 - 04:57

Paying Authors for Their Work

Co-author Gerad M. Levine Whether money is the motive for writing – “[n]o man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money” (Samuel Johnson) – or only one of the rewards for those lonely hours of composition, how does the author get paid? Before she reaches the “royalties” clause in her publishing contract she has […]

The post Paying Authors for Their Work appeared first on...

Thursday, 29 March, 2012 - 16:25

Ownership of Work Included in a Compilation

To have a work included in a compilation is a goal eagerly sought after by authors. It is a distinction for a story or article to appear in an anthology. What should the author be alert to? The question comes up in discussing digital aggregation of compilations in the context of authors’ rights under the Copyright Act. The answer is found in sections 103 and 201(c) of the Copyright Act as construed in decisions from the United States Court of Appeals for the...