Comments for The Passive Voice A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Pub and Traditional Publishing Fri, 18 Sep 2020 22:19:08 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Arsenic and Old Lace by PolyWogg Fri, 18 Sep 2020 22:19:08 +0000 Mfffmamma amsdmamm ammfmfm!

which means:

Wow that is QUITE the trailer!

Comment on What We Aren’t Seeing by Felix.J.Torres Fri, 18 Sep 2020 22:16:40 +0000 In reply to Alice.

It might be that the numbers presented are incomplete and cherry picked.
Some would consider that partisan political.

Comment on What We Aren’t Seeing by CE Petit Fri, 18 Sep 2020 21:22:36 +0000 And here I thought it was just the cover of a John Renbourn album.


Comment on What We Aren’t Seeing by Alice Fri, 18 Sep 2020 20:22:34 +0000 It’s very sad that this exhibition didn’t get to happen. I’ve loved these amazing tapestries from afar almost my whole life, and still hope to see them in person someday. I was obsessed with unicorns as a child, to the extent of semi-believingly searching for one (though not to slaughter!) in the woods and fields around my home.

I was, however, a little baffled by the statement that “the parts of the OP that weren’t political were satisfying.” The only political parts of the article I could find were the brief comparison of the hunted unicorn to “one of the endangered-species safari trophies so proudly displayed by Don Junior and Eric Trump” (which is a fact attested by abundant photographic evidence), and this one paragraph near the end:

“Perhaps the cruelty and bloody-mindedness of this year has brought carnage into sharper focus. It’s unnerving, even embarrassing, but I always (or almost always) like having my eyes opened to something I didn’t notice, even though it was right in front of me all along. It wasn’t as if it had never occurred to me, how severely our society has been poisoned and deformed by racism and income inequality. But the events of this summer, the Black Lives Matter protests and the horrifying statistics that reveal how much more severely the poor and people of color have suffered from the pandemic have made it impossible not to see the blood. I used to say that our democracy was a fragile institution, that what happened to turn other democracies into dictatorships could easily happen here. But I don’t think I really believed it until recently.”

Which strikes me as…not actually political? I don’t see how anyone could argue it *has* been a great year for peaceful and functional democracy or the already disadvantaged, unless the isolated ivory tower in which one dwells is far from any centers of population and has no TV, internet, cell phone coverage, or any more primitive source of news. We can debate the best way to solve these problems, the way we used to back in the 20th century, but it’s pretty clear that something since then has gone terribly, terribly wrong. I sincerely pity anyone – especially anyone evidently intelligent and thoughtful – whose Red Tribe Vs. Blue Tribe enemy-alert system is so sensitively calibrated as to be triggered by a statement not only so brief, not only so well-supported by widely-known facts, but so broadly and gently phrased.

Comment on Don’t Do Business with Incompetents by CE Petit Fri, 18 Sep 2020 18:23:08 +0000 Much as it pains me to disagree with Our Gracious Host:

(1) If you’re going to focus on creators — whether in text or in other forms — you’re going to be dealing with an alarming proportion of incompetents, nutcases, crooks, and/or more than one of the above. Since virtually every legal dispute around creatives involves at least one and up to five distinct phases, and each phase has the same above-average proportion of, umm, “nonoptimal actors,” one’s chances of having to deal with them is pretty close to certain. And the less said about heirs to any of the above, the better (I have had an institutionalized client forced on me because I represented the creator and the creator died leaving a single heir… and more publicly, all one need say is “Stephen Joyce” and every sane person will run screaming).

And remember: It can be just as difficult to deal with an incompetent/nutcase/crook across the table (or if things truly go south, across the v.) as it is with one’s client. I’m not at liberty to discuss all that many details, but it’s public knowledge that I was across the v. from AOL/Time-Warner and CBS/Simon & Schuster. To be excrutiatingly clear, I am not saying that either conglomerate is “worse” than its peers!

(2) Contrary to the contract language in publishing contracts (and in H’wood agreements), for anything other than a work-made-for-hire that actually satisfies the statutory definition — a remarkably small proportion of the works claimed as works made for hire actually do — there is a potential sunset to the contract. It is still an awfully long time (essentially four decades after all of the notice requirements are considered, see 17 U.S.C. § 203; we’re going to ignore pre-01 Jan 1978 transfers here, § 304(c) is even more arcane), but it isn’t “life of the copyright.”

And if one is careful, one will ensure that the “out of print”/reversion clause doesn’t allow the publisher to use a not-selling POD or electronic edition to hold onto rights. Even Big 5 publishers will agree to modifications to their “standard” out of print clause when pushed hard enough and with the right counterproposal. I’ve had great success getting them to agree to clauses that basically boil down to “After the first three years, it’s ‘out of print’ if it fails to earn at least $X in each of two consecutive royalty-reporting periods,” with $X usually around 1.5-2% of the advance or $250ish, whichever is higher.

Neither of these does or should require “expensive legal intervention after the contract is signed” if one follows the Fram Oil Filter Method. Remember the 1970s Fram Oil Filter commercials (“This is a Fram Oil Filter. It costs about $3. Change it when you change your oil, or you’ll be changing your engine. It’s about $800.”)? That’s what having competent legal representation at contract time is. Which is not to say that “all lawyers are oily,” although I’m not denying a certain slickness to our activities…

Comment on Macmillan: Don Weisberg To Succeed John Sargent as CEO by CE Petit Fri, 18 Sep 2020 05:35:58 +0000 Translation from closely held German family enterprises:

We fired a senior manager because he wasn’t making us predictably enough richer fast enough while avoiding obvious embarassment. But we’re too couth to say “fired” because we have no proof of criminal activity or, well, actual embarassment to us, despite any comments made by the Hon. Denise L. Cote (those are years ago and well-deflected by the focus on those persons from Cupertino, and we’ve ensured that there’s no way to trace anything to the Family anyway).

Like I’ve never seen a German family-owned conglomerate do this before. Well, not very often. This year.

Comment on Liu Cixin Writes Science Fiction Epics That Transcend the Moment by Felix.J.Torres Thu, 17 Sep 2020 22:40:33 +0000 1- SF is always anchored in the present.
2- Mr Liu is never going to say his work is about the CCP.
3- On the other hand, if enough publicized evidence piles up…

“Forget it Jake, its China…”

Comment on Macmillan: Don Weisberg To Succeed John Sargent as CEO by Felix.J.Torres Thu, 17 Sep 2020 22:30:51 +0000 Considering all the water he carried for Holtzbrink and the laws he broke for them his treatment is no surprise. That kind of operation has…limited capacity…for loyalty.
It was obviously too much to expect they’d offer him a fig leaf in parting ways.

Comment on Users Being Locked Out by PG Thu, 17 Sep 2020 21:35:23 +0000 In reply to ABEhrhardt.

A. (and everyone else) – Don’t hesitate to make a comment if any portion of the bubble gum and baling wire digital contraption that is TPV appears to be having or causing any problems.

Comment on Insanity runs in my family by PG Thu, 17 Sep 2020 21:26:45 +0000 In reply to PolyWogg.

You’re welcome, P.