Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Writer's Right

I hate contracts.

Ironically enough, I did think that I could get into contracts such that I applied for the UP law exam several years ago. (I passed the written part but flunked the interview. Alas, the interviewers were asking the wrong questions. But I digress.) However, given such elucidation of terms to the point of reading overload in any kind of form of contract, I normally just skim reading one.

Which is why I had to pull out a short story geared for publication in a to-be-unnamed local company because of a contract I barely did not read. My fault of course. (Ask me no questions on the details and I'll tell you no lies. Maybe if you ask me later, I'll tell you.)

My problem with the contract was the fact that I could not approve of any form of control over my writing. Now, IMHO ideas are a dime a dozen and I have no worries about posting vignettes on my blog. I suppose anyone can grab a few and try to pass them off as theirs. But I figure writing a full short story or novel based on a vignette takes skill and discipline and I'd be gleeful for the lil' plagiarizing buggers to take a crack at that. Heavens know I have problems meself in completing a short story or novel already.

However, knowing that I have to give the right of first-refusal to any group for the kind of stories I write-- Hell, no! Probably the company had no plan to actually take some kind of control in perpetua to begin with. The company had an explanation on the matter, after all. Alas, contracts are bloody legally binding documents and I hate having something hanging over my head-- something that could bite me in the ass 20 years down the road.

Intentions are good but the legalities can kick you in the balls when you least expect it.

And that's what worries me. I know there's no escaping contracts when I submit anything for publication but I also know that contracts are good for something. Some, like kyu and dean, are fervent about protecting writers' rights and thus, have made their position known via contracts or agreements about what publishing a story means. But I suppose that's because dean is a writer himself and kyu has been a lifelong fan of the form.

But for those who aren't from this side of the writing/publishing tracks... Well, it's those little-read clauses that could basically knee-cap any writer's career if they're not careful that's worrisome indeed.

(I owe a lot to Sean and kyu for alerting me on this matter. Point of fact, Sean has posted what a writer can expect and give from being published.)


Der Fuhrer said...

And I owe you guys a lot :D

banzai cat said...

Heh wish it could have been for better reasons.