Thursday, February 7, 2013

Is Book Author Attribution Required?

Dear Rich: I signed a book publishing deal for a textbook. Now the publisher has used portions of my book in another book without crediting me. I've been paid for the use but the new book doesn't mention me as the author of the four chapters I wrote. I don't see anything in my contract dealing with the issue. (There is a provision in which I give the publisher the right to use my name and likeness.) Does a publisher have an obligation to credit the author? Absent a contract provision requiring attribution, a U.S. publisher generally doesn't have an obligation to provide credit to the author. In other countries, for example, Canada, Britain, and France, an author is empowered with moral rights (droits moral) which require that the author be credited, or alternatively that the author not be credited with a work that the author did not create. But moral rights have not been directly embraced in the U.S. though some authors have relied on unfair competition laws and similar false attribution theories to fill that gap. In the event you enter into a new book contract, attempt to negotiate a provision requiring attribution for all reproductions. Alternatively, avoid provisions in which you waive all moral rights.

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