Stories of other people in a book

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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eveber
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Stories of other people in a book

Post by eveber » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:51 am

Hi there.

I would very appreciate some legal advice about my subject. I plan to publish a book, where will also be some stories, written by different people. These people will write stories especially for my book - it will not be copied from anywhere - at least I think they wouldn't do that.

So, I beleive, I should give them some kind of contract to sign, where it should be mentioned that they give all their owner rights of the story to me? They would be signed under their story if they like.

Is it enough to simply add on my webpage, where it will all be described about submitting their story, a few lines of legal notice, that when submitting a story, they are allready giving their ownership rights to me? Or must this be signed document to be legally correct?

Thank you for your help in advance...

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:11 am

hi eveber,

I should preface these remarks by saying that although Slovenia is a member of the EU, and therefore has adopted EU law covering several aspects of copyright law, certain parts such as those dealing with copyright ownership and the transfer of that ownership have not been harmonised at the EU level. In this respect, my very limited knowledge of Slovenian copyright law suggests that copyright ownership cannot be transferred in its entirety, and only specified individual economic rights (for instance the reproduction right or the distribution right) can be transferred. You can see more about this in Articles 69 to 100 of Zakon o avtorski in sorodnih pravicah (kot je bil spremenjen 22. oktobra 2016) (Slovenian Copyright law of 22 October 2016). I am not clear about the exact formalities required for making such transfers but they must be in writing and must be signed by the author. Also, contract law is largely a matter of national law too, and so I would strongly advise you to speak to a lawyer within Slovenia to get the best advice.

That said, it may not be necessary to ask contributors to give up their copyright by transferring it to you. They can just provide you with a wide ranging licence to publish and use their stories in your book. This licence could be exclusive (meaning that only you had the right to publish their story), but it doesn't have to be.

You don't mention if the contributors are to be paid or are to be entitled to any proceeds from the book sales, so it is hard to say whether either licensing or full transfer of the publication right is the best option.

The right to be credited as the author of a work is a moral right which is always attached to the person of the author. In that respect it cannot be transferred during the lifetime of the author. My understanding of Slovenian law is that the author is entitled to a credit unless he or she expressly renounces this right.

If you wish for the copyright to be transferred, this does require a written agreement signed by the author, and usually some sort of payment to the author would be required to complete the contract. If you decide licensing will meet your needs, I would strongly advise you to use a written agreement for this too, but it might be possible to just have written terms and conditions on your website which the authors must signify their agreement (this would be subject to Slovenian contract law). Both types of agreement really ought to address the author's entitlement to royalties or other payments which are due to them from sales of the book, even if it is only to say they are entitled to nothing. And the agreement can also include a clause indemnifying you against any copyright infringement or similar claims resulting from the author's infringement of someone else's work.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

eveber
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Post by eveber » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:42 am

Thank you AndyJ, this post helped me a lot.

Yes, I forgot to mention that authors that will be published in a book will receive 50$ payment. But there are also other ideas - that some short stories that won't be in a book, would be published on Facebook or webpage as an examples... for that I can not afford to pay authors.

Exclusive licence seem right to me. I expressed myself wrong - I don't need legal ownership of a specific story, I just don't want any problems with authors or law when book is published on Amazon. So author can certainly be known for a single story, I would only like legal rights to distribute his story so he can't sue me (if this book would be for some reason very successful and someone would see an opportunity for easy cash) or anything like that.

I think I will seek some legal advice in Slovenia to get specific details about that - but thank you very much for your answer. I never really thought of some kind of licence, I always thought that I would need to transfer ownership or something like that.

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