Wednesday, 8 June 2011

QOTW: Who inherits the publishing rights to your writing?

I'm addressing a sensitive topic today - who inherits the publishing rights to your writing should the worst happen?

A few weeks ago I read a newspaper article about Stieg Larrson and the battle for ownership of his writing. It seems Larrson died without leaving a will that stated his partner, Eva Gabrielsson, should inherit publishing rights. Because he was not married to his partner of 32 years it passed to his legal next of kin - his brother and father. This means Gabrielsson has not benefited financially from the huge success of his novels.

My situation is quite similar to Larrson. Mr. G and I are not married (I can call him Mr. G because his surname is Grant), and because I was fostered, I have no contact with my biological family. Legally my next of kin are my brother, who I've never met, and my sister who I have not seen in ten years. There is no way I want either to inherit publishing rights to my work.

It seems clear to me I need to make provision in my will to address this issue, so that Mr. G would inherit the rights should I pass away. However, it would also be prudent to name another person, should Mr. G already be dead. At this stage I have no idea who.

All this might seem morbid and perhaps a little egotistical - after all, I've not yet published a novel. But is it? Have you asked yourself who would inherit the publishing rights should you die? Is there provision in your will to ensure the right person or people benefit?

I recognise this is a difficult and very personal matter, so I'm not looking for people to tell me the contents of their wills, rather to highlight a topic you may not yet have considered important enough to address. Maybe you are like a lot of people I know, who won't make a will for fear of tempting death. Maybe you believe the worst will never happen. Unfortunately, it can.

I will be back on Friday, when I promise the post will be more light-hearted.

29 comments:

  1. Yes I've heard about the Larsson lawsuit - very sensitive. Though some may consider this topic morbid, it's still a relevant one and let's face it - we all have to go someday.

    In your case, I would suggest that you leave your publishing rights to various charities. ~Good NGO ones (Non-Government Organisations). Also churches, the Salvation army etc. There are loads of good charities out there, not just for people, but for animals too. You can take your pick.

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  2. I think more people think about this than you think. I certainly do. S and I aren't married either so it's something I should consider doing soon, I think. :-/

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  3. Pick me! Pick me! hehehee
    But you make a valid point. I'll need to add that to make sure there's no problems after I'm gone.

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  4. Very good and valid points here. The Larsson case is really unpleasant and sad. We have fairly detailed wills as there are a bunch of youngsters in our lives who will inherited from us.

    I don't see this as morbid - the mess that is left if one pops off without a will is ghastly.

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  5. It is important to have your wishes known, and legally certified. I'd definitely suggest putting a clause into your will, and if you're worried about needing a secondary beneficiary in case Mr. G passes first, I'd suggest you wait until somebody of worth pops up. A will isn't set in stone, and you can update it whenever necessary.

    Years ago, I inherited a bunch of stuff my uncle wrote. He died without a will, but didn't own much, and nobody else wanted his god-awful writings (he was trying to emulate L. Ron Hubbard, I think, only with more of a beatnick feel). So, I have about a thousand pages of rough draft he wrote with no real market potential, but plenty of sentimental value.

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  6. Unfortunately this stuff is reality. I think people think about it, but may not all actually sit down and make the updates (or for that matter, write a will). I think it's necessary to be as prepared as possible to make things easier and clear for those you leave behind. You just never know. We think that nothing bad can happen to us -- bad things happen to other people -- but you really just don't know.

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  7. You raise some sensible questions that are well-worth airing. Making a will is something everyone should do. Don't think mine says anything about rights per se but it's clear who should get everything.

    As to who you should name after Mr. G - that's a tricky one! Only you can decide, obviously.

    If it's any help, we made our will under the WillAid scheme here in the UK. A solicitor draws up your will in return for a small payment to charity. Well worth doing.

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  8. It's always good to make provisions as to who you would like your personal stuff to go to to avoid such nastiness between family later. I'm all for making wills!!! So go for it!

    As to whom to leave things if ever your nearest and dearest are not alive, then perhaps a favourite charity, a library, a university, even a museum?

    Good luck!! Take care
    x

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  9. I've often thougth about it. I could leave it to my husband. I could leave it to my daughters. Since I'm not published yet...well, I'll worry about it when I cross that bridge.

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  10. Hmm! Interesting point. A long time ago I heared the advice that it's advisable to have a will whatever your circumstances. That way there's no argument (or there shouldn't be).

    It's an interesting thought, and one we should all think about.

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  11. THis is a very important thing to consider. Something that I have not thought about. I think that often we take for granted certain things. Thanks for the heads up.

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  12. Yes a proper will drawn up would be the answer. I'd get Mr G on it and worry about other beneficiaries as and when you become successful. I have yet to make a will presuming that hubby or family would inherit anything I have. Good question, though I'm not sure what QOTW means and feel a little stoopid about that :O)

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  13. Very good topic. I've thought a lot about it, even though I'm married, because we have his and her children.

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  14. Hi Ellie .. I hadn't heard about the Stieg Larssen law suit - personally I think that's pretty unfair of the brother and father ... 32 years is a long time .. must be more than half Stieg's life time - as he died young.

    Good point - because we never know when we're going .. and people are mighty funny and selfish .. therefore you're so right get the Will sorted - you can always change it if someone worthwhile pops up ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  15. And yet, it's something you do need to think about. And if your works fly, then it's a huge issue, especially if people you don't want to reap the rewards of your hard work are the ones the legal system would consider next.

    TAG, Ellie. You're it. Check my blog to see what I'm talking about.
    http://weavingataleortwo.blogspot.com/2011/06/another-tag.html

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  16. It's something all of us should consider. Hubby and I really need to update our wills. For the most part, since we have no children, we plan to leave something to a couple of favorite relatives and the rest to our favorite charities.

    But a will is mandatory should both me and my better half pass away at once.

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  17. Make the will! Unless you were adopted out your biological parents will also have rights - perhaps more than your siblings. You can update at any time. And you don't need the legal stuff justfor your writing - because you're not married he wouldn't have any say over the funeral/life support etc.

    Lordy,looks who's morbid now! Time for some disco music, I think.

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  18. I guess since I'm married, my work would fall to her...

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  19. Definitely deep thoughts. Hope you're able to work them all out. =)

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  20. This is a great topic. I'm not married and don't ever intend to be so all my worldly goods will pass to the Nephews.

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  21. Since I am not married..I haven't yet decided and I have been published, so there is the royalty factor. You make good points. Will surely think about them.

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  22. Interesting question! I must have a think about that.

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  23. cheapest way i know is to videotape your wishes, aka 'living will'... just ensure it's legal in your area, and have duplicates with a lawyer and whomever you deem your beneficiary....

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  24. I think many of us avoid or put off this topic until it's too late. I keep meaning to do something, but I don't and I should. I would hate to think that I would leave a legal mess behind me for others to clean up and even fight over.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  25. Whenever there's potential for money, relatives (who have not spoken to you for years) come out of the woodwork and claim their 'right' to the assets of your hard work. And, they really believe they deserve it... Write the will.

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  26. Good topic. At this point, my husband would get them. But if he were to die, I would then want them to go to my family and not his. I wonder how I handle that. I guess I would have to make sure we do a joint will and it says when we both go it then goes to my family.

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  27. My hubby & I made a living will a dozen or so years ago. It felt good to have it done. It's a good idea.

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  28. It is never too early to "take care of business." My husband and I made up wills when our children were small so we could specify who would raise them in the event we both died. It is a bit morbid, but death is part of life, after all, and must be dealt with. There is software that you can purchase to write your own will. Probably a good idea if you haven't already taken care of it.

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  29. Very good point! At the moment, being mostly a poet, my publishing rights would be worth very little, but in the future I should make sure that my partner would get them (we're not married either).

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