An Introduction to Foreign Rights | 2018 London Book Fair

foreign rightsThe Introduction to Rights Workshop half-day event was held for the 22nd consecutive time on Monday April 9th, 2018 at Olympia, London one day before the London Book Fair.

By Chrysothemis Armefti— Article first published in April 2018

I had already been to the workshop in 2012 as a postgraduate student at the University of Stirling. It was a pleasure to attend on behalf of 2 Seas Agency this time, allowing me to give you an overview of the workshop from a more experienced point of view.

Covering topics from “Why sell rights?” to “Guidelines for rights deals,” the workshop offers the unique opportunity to learn essential skills for (foreign) rights selling, and discover the legal complexities and practical aspects of it.

Lynette Owen, Duncan Calow, Diane Spivey, Stephanie Purcell
©The London Book Fair

Topics covered include:
  • Why sell rights? – Lynette Owen, Consultant
  • You can’t sell what you don’t own! It’s all in the Head Contract – Duncan Calow, DLA Piper
  • Selling rights essentials – Diane Spivey, Hachette UK, Lynette Owen, Consultant and Stephanie Purcell, Simon & Schuster
  • How exactly do you sell rights? A step-by-step guide – Stephanie Purcell, Simon & Schuster
  • Guidelines for rights deals and contract checklist – Diane Spivey, Hachette UK
  • An “Ask The Experts Session” at the end, in which delegates can get one-to-one guidance.

Whether you are a student, intern, editor, writer, rights assistant, lawyer, or just starting a career in any kind of publishing-related job and interested in learning more about the processes involved in rights selling, this workshop is essential. Rights trading across media has become a very important element in publishing, and this workshop can provide a quick guide to rights and contracts. However, experienced rights sellers would already be far too familiar with the points raised.

This workshop will first help you better understand the role and importance of rights professionals within the publishing industry. According to Lynette Owen – freelance copyright and rights consultant –  selling rights constitutes, above all, an important source of income for some companies, but it is also a way to access markets that may have been difficult to reach with original editions for reasons of distribution, language, or price. On another level, rights sales can also enhance the reputation and identity of the author through other media such as audio, film or TV.

From primary rights to translation rights, from permissions to co-editions, rights sellers are responsible for negotiating and handling such arrangements. Rights agreements and legal lingo can be intimidating. It is very important for both publishers and authors to understand what their rights are, to whom they are giving them up, and what the impact will be on their core business.

Between DLA Piper LLP Partner Duncan Calow’s short introduction on copyright, intellectual property, and the value of data, and Hachette UK’s contracts director Diane Spivey’s detailed contracts checklist, participants/delegates should have been able to learn the basics of negotiating a publishing contract. Rights holders/sellers should clearly understand the nature of a proposed deal, anticipate the core impact, but also be able to grant the rights to the most suitable licensee.

foreign rights

London Book Fair 2018

With delegates of a wide range of ages and backgrounds, the workshop organizers nicely balanced the information shared. The legal aspect of rights was obviously very important for publishing professionals, but Stephanie Purcell’s (Rights and Co-editions Director at Simon and Schuster) step-by-step guide to rights selling was the highlight for authors and entry level professionals/young publishers. Underlining the importance of market and publisher research, personal contacts, and book fair attendance, Stephanie explained how to create a rights guide, prepare for your meetings, do follow-ups, plus what to look for in an offer and how to negotiate.

The workshop finished with a one-to-one session with the speakers—rights professionals from major publishers—and a networking drinks reception, offering the chance for discussion and getting to know one another.

Licensing rights has become a crucial part of publishers’ revenue, and this workshop offered a short and detailed introduction to the professionals attending. In my opinion, a variety of subjects was covered, however, more practical guidance would have been more suitable for those getting started in rights.

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