More details available here:
Agents Angered by SS Rights Grab
by Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 5/18/2007 7:29:00 AM
Agents are strongly objecting to a change in Simon & Schuster’s contract language that gives it the ability to retain book rights even if a title remains only in the publisher’s electronic database. "They’re rewriting the rules and saying rights will never revert back," said Brian DeFiore,
And if that link goes away, just Google Simon and Schuster contracts and I'm sure something will pop up - there's been lots of discussion about this all over the Net already.
They are the first - and they are getting a backlash of outrage. But let another publisher add this to their contracts, and the backlash will be less. Let a third, and it will become industry standard. And then we're ALL screwed.
As someone put it somewhere in this discussion, the situation works beautifully for publishers, with their gazillions of books - but most authors don't have gazillions of books in them, they have a FEW, and that's all there is. They now have the opportunity of taking their work back and trying to place it elsewhere, if the original publisher lets it go out of print. Under the new rules, that is no longer possible. Authors become indentured to a publishing house, and their work lives and dies with that publishing house.
Don't let this become industry standard. If your book goes to auction, exclude S&S unless they take part under current industry rules. Make your agents aware of that clause in the contract, and make it a deal breaker if it is not stricken. Sure, only first-tier big name authors have the kind of clout to make a BIG noise about this - but we are all in this together, and if NONE of us will play in S&S's new sandbox they might rethink the matter.
Pass it on.