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UNDERSTANDING RIGHTS REVERSION When, Why, & How to Regain Copyright and Make Your Book More Available PREPARED FOR AUTHORS ALLIANCE BY: Nicole Cabrera Jordyn Ostroff Brianna Schofield Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic. Authors Alliance · No. 1. 2015


© 2015 Authors Alliance, CC BY 4.0


Are you an author who would like to increase your book’s availability? Have you already entered into a publishing agreement for your book? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then read on! This guide addresses the needs of authors who wish to make their works available to a wider audience in ways that may be prohibited by the terms of their existing publishing agreements.

For example, this guide will help authors who want to do things like: • Bring their out-of-print books back into print • Publish digital versions of their books • Make their books openly accessible • Publish updated editions of their books • Create new works derived from their books (e.g., translations, audio editions, cinematic adaptions, etc.) • And much more.

This guide addresses common issues facing all authors who seek to increase their books’ availability, regardless of whether an author has a literary agent. However, authors with agents may be restricted by the terms of their agency agreements from approaching their publishers directly—or they may prefer to have their agents speak with their publishers on their behalf. Regardless of what an agent-author contract might stipulate, authors who consult this guide will be better informed about strategies for making their books more available.

WHAT IS THIS GUIDE? This guide is the product of extensive interviews with authors, publishers, and literary agents who shared their perspectives on reverting rights, the author-publisher relationship, and keeping books available in today’s publishing environment. This guide compiles information, strategies, and examples gleaned from these interviews to empower authors to take an active role in increasing their books’ availability. For some authors, this may mean exercising or negotiating rights of reversion; for other authors, it may mean securing their publishers’ permission to make their books available in the ways that they want, or working with their publishers to revive their books’ availability.