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Q: Book "Rights" and acquiring them ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Book "Rights" and acquiring them
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: oraccomp-ga
List Price: $8.00
Posted: 10 Dec 2003 12:37 PST
Expires: 09 Jan 2004 12:37 PST
Question ID: 285749
How would I buy/acquire the rights to a book published in 2001 and the
authors are still alive and well. Is there a clear route? What sort of
cost are rights and are the rights clearly defined or can I buy film
rights but not publication rights. I am a computer engineer so I need
it in easy terms! The book is biographical similar to The Swiss Family
Robinson. Thanks in anticipation. PS A one link reference, as a totl
answer, to some copyright website does NOT constitute a laymans
Subject: Re: Book "Rights" and acquiring them
Answered By: hlabadie-ga on 11 Dec 2003 05:09 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
The creation of any intellectual property creates a "bundle" of
rights. The bundle is divided into primary and secondary (or
subsidiary) rights, depending upon the original form of the work. In
this case, the original form is a book, and the primary rights are
those pertaining to the published book formats, while the secondary or
subsidiary rights are all those that pertain to works derived from
that original book, such as movies or stage plays.

The subsidiary or derivative rights to the book are severable and can
be licensed separately. That is, one person could license the rights
to make a motion picture from the book, while another could license
the right to make a stage play, and yet a third could license the
right to market a computer game based upon the book, and so on. The
license fees and/or royalties to be paid to the owner of the rights
are negotiable. The authors may have assigned the rights to the
publisher when the publishing contract was signed for a consideration
or a portion of future licensing, or the authors may have reserved the
derivative rights, depending upon the terms agreed between them. You
would have to approach the publisher and the authors or their
representative (agent) to determine who owns the rights, which rights
they would be willing to license, and the amount and structure of
compensation. There is no standard offer. The value of the work is
entirely defined by the market. The greater the number of people who
are interested in the work, the greater its value. The terms of the
license must be explicit as to the scope of the rights granted and the
form and amount of compensation required. Are worldwide rights
granted? How will profits be divided? Is there a time limit on the
right? (Will it lapse if a project is not completed in a certain time,
allowing the owners to grant a new license to someone else?) Can
rights be reassigned by the licensee? (Can you contract with somebody
else to make the movie?) In essence, the rights transferred and the
conditions by which those rights are transferred are all negotiable.
There is no magic formula. Contract law becomes the controlling factor
at that point. Certain terms can be called standard, but everything is
negotiable. Naturally, you would want to hire an experienced lawyer or
agent to conduct the negotiations.

See the articles at: 







Prior familiarity with publishing and the Ivan Hoffman site.

oraccomp-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $7.00
I followed through using the information you supplied and it's as good
as I'm going to get. You are spot-on with the ways that the rights can
be split and I'm happy with the answer. Thank you also to the two
commentees(?). A Merry Christmas to ALL researchers and contributors

Subject: Re: Book "Rights" and acquiring them
From: journalist-ga on 10 Dec 2003 13:42 PST
Greetings Oraccomp:

The book reviewed at
"Independent Filmmaker's Law and Business Guide: Financing, Shooting,
and Distributing Independent and Digital Films" may be of interest to

"The book serves as a guide for filmmakers, film students, and lawyers
interested in entertainment law.  The book explains how to acquire
film rights from books, plays or other sources, how to create the
filmmaker?s motion picture company to finance and develop the film,
and how to operate as the employer of dozens of skilled professionals,
including actors, designers, cinematographers, and others."

Best regards,
Subject: Re: Book "Rights" and acquiring them
From: kriswrite-ga on 10 Dec 2003 14:26 PST

There probably is no truly straightforward answer, since the cost of
acquiring rights (and whether you can acquire rights at all) depends
entirely upon the whim of the copyright holder. In the simplest terms,
you need to write to the publisher and ask for your proposal to be
passed on to the copyright holder.

Subject: Re: Book "Rights" and acquiring them
From: hlabadie-ga on 23 Dec 2003 20:33 PST
Thanks for the tip and the rating. Good luck with the project.


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