Monday, 3 February 2020

Australian Magazine That's Life! taking all rights?

I've been told that Australian publication That's Life! are filtering in a new 'all rights' contract (I've seen a copy), which must be signed before any further payments are made. Apparently this applies even if you submitted your work and had it accepted before notification of any change.

If you write for this publication, and wish to know what rights are required before you decide whether or not to submit more work, then I suggest contacting the fiction editor to clarify the situation. I've done that and am awaiting a response.

Doing this isn't 'rocking the boat' or causing a fuss. It's perfectly reasonable to want to know the terms under which your work will be published. 

I'd like to think that if enough writers demonstrate they care about this issue then the publisher might reconsider, or at least make their new policy known to all their writers, so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to submit. It's worth a try. 

Updated 10/2/20 The query I sent, over a week ago, about the new contracts has not yet been answered. I've also heard from a writing friend who was issued the contract and hasn't had all her queries answered. Quite rightly she's not signing without knowing exactly what she would be committing herself to.

Updated 11/2/20 The editor can't help me as she's not seen the new contract. She offered to pass my query to the editor, so I'm noe awaiting their response.


Sharon Boothroyd said...

Yes, we need to know what the terms of the contract are before we submit work.
To publish a story, then slam you with an all rights contract and expect us to sign it (or we won't be paid) is deeply unfair, especially when we were subbing under the terms of the existing contract.

Bea Charles said...

Seeking to impose new contract terms after acceptance and publication, but before payment, is not just deeply unfair. It is unlawful and in breach of contract law. (I’m assuming Contract Law in Australia is comparative to that of England and Wales.)
However it’s not so easy for a U.K. based writer to sue them in the Australian courts but one would hope that a reputable company would not operate such sharp practice.

Carrie said...

From what I understand writer’s are being contacted with regards to the new contract which will then be in effect. I’m still uncertain as to stories that have been accepted but not yet published. My published story is, as I understand, being honoured under the old contract.
Disappointing that another publisher is going down the all rights road tho...

Carolb said...

Not good news.

I wonder if there are any Australian writers, who read this blog, who can help with info.

For accepted but not published stories it looks like the writers are in that horrible situation again of accepting the new contract or withdrawing their stories. :(

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Taking all rights? That's a big change all right. Hope you get an answer soon.

Anonymous said...

Rotten news! Thanks for letting us know, Patsy. Agree with Bea Charles, though, seeking to impose new contract terms after acceptance and publication, but before payment, is not just deeply unfair. It is unlawful and in breach of contract law. I had a rather lengthy discussion with another magazine publisher (UK Based) on the contract law issue, and was paid within the contract terms my work was submitted, and accepted, under, as I think many of us eventually were. If they accept any of my stories -though they haven't for ages! - I will not go with an All Rights Contract. All good wishes Kate Hogan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Patsy. Once again it seems a change is brought in and the writers are the last to know. If we have signed a contract with the company and submit a story under the terms we have agreed, then they are duty bound to honour those terms. Other wise, as others have said, they are in breach of contract. Such a shame if another magazine goes down this route. They already have the right to reuse our stories as often as they please without further payment so I don't know why they have to go to these extremes.

Liz said...

I'm in Australia, but can't offer any insights as I've never written for That's Life! and they're not open to new writers. However, contract law here was derived from contract law in England, as far as I'm aware, so yes, legally they *should* honour their old contract terms for accepted stories.

Patsy said...

I've not yet had a reply to my query about rights.

Anonymous said...

Another thing that writers need to consider before accepting this new contract is that Bauer is currently trying to takeover Pacific Magazines. This has been in the news and the only thing stopping it at the moment is the ACCC. I'm supplying a link to the latest article but if you don't trust the link you can google Bauer Seven West Pacific Magazines Takeover.

If you sign this contract and Bauer takes over does this mean Bauer then gets the right to publish all the That's Life stories in any magazine of Bauers anywhere in the world?

Also the wording of the new contract isn't clear as to whether they are taking All Rights from all previously published stories with them, and not just from the date the contract is signed and future stories. I'd sure need clarification of a few things before I could sign this new agreement.


Patsy said...

@ CF Yes, if you sign away all rights then whoever aquires them can reuse the story anywhere they like – and as often as they like and the author will get no additional pay.

The terms shouldn't be retrospective, but they may well apply to stories authors thought they'd submitted under different terms, if the contact is signed before these are accepted.

Intersting about Bauer, as they don't currently take all rights for UK published fiction, and actually dropped this requirement recently for the one title which did take the.