Noncompete Clauses in Author Contracts


Since so many of my Newsletter subscribers accessed the recent links to Author Guild articles, I’m providing another. In this instance regarding noncomplete clauses in author contracts. I’ll let the article speak for itself and not reprint the text.  But the salient issue implies that the standard publisher contract includes a noncompete clause without chronology attached to it—which means “forever.” I know from experience in the healthcare industry that an open-ended noncompete clause (meaning, for a term of usage with no defined time frame) is invalid. But, as the article points out, what author wants to spend $150,000 and two or more years in court to get the clause invalidated, knowing that this negation has no impact on the rest of the contract. And if a writer sues a publisher and wins, she or he must still remain in bed with this same “contractor.” Most noncompete clauses I’m familiar with have a two-year term, which is the outside time limit the courts have found realistic. I’m of the opinion that this chronology should apply to the book business as well. Again, this pertains solely to noncompete issues, and to understand this a writer must become familiar with exactly what this means. And for most people this involves hiring a competent attorney who specializes in intellectual property and particularly with expertise in publishing (I’m told to expect a fee of around $1,500 for the review of a publishing contract, but from someone [me] who many times has shopped attorneys, which they hate by the way, that’s just a guide).

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