Sunday, September 19, 2010

The contract stuff continued

I'm just going to copy here what Mike wrote back to me and my response to him.

At 18 September, 2010 , Blogger Mike said...

I likely did keep the signed contract... somewhere. It may lie in some forgotten envelope amid the mass of books, notes, and scribbled sketches that I appear to enjoy surrounding myself with. (As I noted in my 1st post, keeping these important documents in an easily found safe place has been an important lesson.) But I'm not sure what advantage finding my copy of the signed contract does me. I know they have a signed copy (unless they have misfiled it along with the entire Shorts program) and I know exactly what that signed copy says. For better or worse I'm bound by it now.

I think I would like to work on getting out the 30 day notice to them that would revert the rights of the story to me.

Along with the contract I also have a copy of the Amazon Shorts Welcome kit. I have the office address of the two guys that ran it. I have their e-mails. Heck, I have their phone numbers... that is if they are still working for Amazon.

So do I need to send them a registered letter (so that I have proof that it was sent) stating that I am given them notice?
 

At 19 September, 2010 , Blogger Welwyn-on-books said...

If you live in the USA a registered letter giving them the 30 days notice is fine. Or if you have a cheaper form of "courier" type service through the USPS that will give you a tracking number and (for a fee) will let you require a signature. If you live outside the USA, you will have to investigate what your country's postal service can do for you to send the letter relatively cheaply across borders and still give you proof that Amazon received your notice when they did, plus a signature. The courier was the most expensive option, but in some countries it is the only one.

Or, wait, I just thought of something. You can fax them your notice unless they specify otherwise in their contract with you. A fax is a legal document (at least, it is in Canada)  if it is signed by you. Usually a fax machine also prints out a document saying what date and time the fax was received. So that would be the cheapest option of all, of sending your notice and receiving proof that it got there on paper to save. Sorry I didn't think of that sooner. If you don't have a fax machine, most copy places will fax documents for you for a reasonable fee.

Email is not considered a legal document.

The thing is to follow any method that Amazon has asked for from you on its contract. It's good that you kept all that contact information. Even if a person has moved on, their position is still likely there.

Mike, regarding your keeping or not keeping the signed contract, I think you did amazingly well in dealing with this first important sale to an online organization as big as Amazon. The only reason I mentioned it is because I've actually seen people not get paid *big* amounts of money (e.g. for TV adaptation.) In that case you would need *their* signature on your contract to sue.  You haven't said what you would do in such a case, so I thought I'd mention it.

So do you want me to stop talking about your contract now? I've given everyone tons of information already, but there's tons more for any contract and I was loving it that we had a real one with real problems in it.  (So many of the things their highly paid lawyers have done are tiny phrases that nobody notices until they are burned by them.   I've been burned, unfortunately many times..  But if we've done all you need right now, that's fine too.  Feel free to come back to the topic at any time. 

We're actually getting quite a few people reading this blog, just reading it without saying they're there.  There have been big spikes in the visitor register on the days we have talked about the contract.  So there is obviously a lot of interest out there.  If anyone else has any questions please feel free to post a comment/question here.

20 Comments:

At 19 September, 2010 , Blogger Mike said...

I really appreciate the help in figuring out just what it was I agreed to. Without your prompting, I would not have realized that I still need to re-establish my rights to the story that I sent in.

I think what I would like to do next is to look at the contracts of some potential publishers.

A of "online" publishers have cropped up. Web sites that simple post stories they have accepted on the web. One of the sites starting to get some notice is Yesteryear.

Here is what their "Legal Stuff" says.

"Here’s the legal stuff: When your story gets accepted, you are giving Yesteryear first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. This means that we get to be the first to publish your story, and then, after it has been put up on the website, we can stick it in a printed book or on a flyer or something like that, as long as we give you credit. We don’t own your story, however– after it appears on the front page of Yesteryear, you are free to sell it for millions of dollars, cut a deal with a movie producer, expand it into a book, enter it into your own or someone else's anthology or anything else all without needing our approval– as long as you remember to tell any potential buyers that they are buying your story as a non-exclusive piece."

While I give them credit for avoiding legalese, this does not seem like a very good deal. Particularly the part about them being able to re-print a submitted work in a book. They claim they don't own your work, but if they can print it in a book any time they write without providing anything more than credit, then they might as well.

 
At 19 September, 2010 , Blogger Mike said...

Part 2

I think the reason writers are willing to go for deals like this is simple. We want to get noticed. Fair compensation is a secondary worry for writers that are just starting. Writing in absolute obscurity forever is the biggest fear. What sort of places should beginning writers be submitting to that can help them begin to build the sort of reputation they need to get a literary agent?

 
At 19 September, 2010 , Blogger Mike said...

I think the blog monster may have eaten my 1st post, which makes the part 2 comment not make much sense.

The deal I was referring to, is the one at Yesteryear.com

"Here’s the legal stuff: When your story gets accepted, you are giving Yesteryear first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. This means that we get to be the first to publish your story, and then, after it has been put up on the website, we can stick it in a printed book or on a flyer or something like that, as long as we give you credit. We don’t own your story, however– after it appears on the front page of Yesteryear, you are free to sell it for millions of dollars, cut a deal with a movie producer, expand it into a book, enter it into your own or someone else's anthology or anything else all without needing our approval– as long as you remember to tell any potential buyers that they are buying your story as a non-exclusive piece."

In order to avoid complications, we're only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web."

While I appreciate that they explain the deal clearly, I don't feel their being able to print your story, anytime after submission without giving you anything but credit is exactly fair. That's the deal I was referring to.

Post 1 also thanked you for your continuing advice. :)

 
At 20 September, 2010 , Blogger Welwyn-on-books said...

Blogger wasn't the problem... it was their overactive spam engine which cannot be turned off. Things will definitely have to start changing here. I no longer can use IE8 to open my dashboard, so today we're using Mozilla. But maybe, if people want to keep any comments or posts, they should start copying them to their files, if the great Gobbler lets them. I have to do that myself, in case we have to change to a different blog format.

 
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