A guide to the rights and responsibilities of writers, whether they are not yet published, self-published or traditionally published.
In this handbook for writers, Camp (In God We Trust, 2006) draws on her legal background and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to cover a broad range of issues of which every writer subject to U.S. law should be aware. After a foreword and introduction, the book begins with an explanation of the copyright system: what can be copyrighted, how to obtain a copyright and what protections the law offers copyright holders. Camp cogently explains the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism, an often confusing topic, with samples of several works involved in recent accusations of plagiarism; she cites case law in nontechnical language to demonstrate the definition of fair use that courts have come to accept. The book leads readers through the elements of a publishing contract and identifies areas of frequent dispute—e.g., the definition of an acceptable manuscript. While copyright and contracts make up the bulk of the book, other sections address the financial aspects of a writing career, the benefits and drawbacks of incorporation, and defamation. Camp relies on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for the book’s structure, with quotations from Carroll’s work serving as thematic epigrams for each chapter; the living chess game, for instance, sets the stage for the discussion of contracts. Adding a touch of whimsy to what could be a dry subject, the quotations and accompanying black-and-white illustrations by Tenniel (which were used in the original editions of Carroll’s works) also serve as an object lesson, as Camp explains that they are in the public domain and can thus be used freely thanks to the expiration of their copyright. With its clear explanations of complex topics supported by easy-to-follow actual and hypothetical examples, this book has the potential to be a useful reference tool for writers who want to understand both their own rights and their responsibilities to other content creators.
A comprehensive, usable explanation of contracts, copyright and other key legal concepts that all writers need to understand.