What is publication?

Publication is the distribution of copies of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, (like giving it away) or by rental, lease, or lending.

Publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first distributed to the public. Publishing rights are one aspect of copyright. For example: you might own the copyright on images for a book, but you grant a specific publisher the right to publish those images under specific conditions.

  • When you distribute hard copies of your work, i.e. book, pamphlet, periodical, audio, video, photo or transfer a digital file, you have published your work.
  • When you sign a contract with a publisher, retail vendor or other distributor (direct mail, on line publication, etc.) with intent to distribute your intellectual property, you are publishing your work.
  • Performing your songs, play, improve comedy sketch in public is not publication. Writing down or recording your songs, play or improve comedy sketch does.

What can be published?

Works of fiction, biographies, sheet music, audio files, film, photographs, illustrations, educational papers, reports, e-journals (blogs), research data and architectural designs.

Does a work need a copyright to be published?

No. While copyright proves ownership, publishing your work (distribution) can establish copyright, however, most legitimate publishers will not work with you unless copyright registration is established. (Certificate)

The offering to distribute copies of a work to a person or group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication.

A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

Publishing rights.

If you have not signed an agreement or contract with a publishing company, you own your publishing rights. This gives you the right to determine how your copyrighted material may be used. You earn money any time that material is sold, performed, or covered.

If you have signed a publishing contract or agreement, the royalties from your work are then divided between the author and the publisher as per the agreement.

  • These agreements can and should be for a limited amount of time.
  • All publishing agreements should be in writing and signed by both parties.
  • Publishing agreements should be specific as to royalty distribution and to the responsibilities of both parties.
  • Publishing agreements should have an end clause allowing either party to dissolve the agreement if certain conditions are not met.
  • If you have a publishing agreement, the publisher is responsible for collecting and distributing royalty payments as part of that agreement.
  • Retaining your publishing rights does not make you by default, a publishing company. You must register with a licensing company, the copyright office or other governing entity to be recognized as a publisher.
  • If you establish a publishing company, any agreement you have for further distribution (lease or sale of the intellectual property) is now between publishing companies, yours and theirs.
  • If you own the publishing and copyright, you are responsible to lease the copyright to your works, and it’s up to you to collect the royalty payments.

How do I find a publisher?

They’re everywhere, especially if you establish yourself as an artist or author. What you want to do is find a publisher that fits your needs. In this case, there are two kinds of publishers; those that maintain existing catalogues and those that promote. You may want someone who promotes your work to film, TV, commercial use or anywhere you can make money.

An established music publisher can help you find opportunities to earn money from your works through sale or leasing. Your music may be included in a catalog of songs available for use in film, TV, commercials, games, and more

What does a standard publishing contract look like?

There are no standard publishing contracts. The question is standard for who? Usually the answer is “standard for the publisher”.

• The publisher may offer a basic publishing package to all artists/authors. This should include royalty distribution, offers to solicit the works for commercial and non-commercial use, marketing and promotion along with their stable of artists.
• Publishing contracts should be negotiated. There should be proof of performance, limitations, communication, modification and end of service definitions in the contract.
• Publishing contracts vary with the scope of the work. Music publishing is different than book publishing. Publishers have certain monetary goals they would like to meet. Some publishers have existing contracts with film, TV, arenas, artists, etc.
• A publishing contract can be as simple as collecting royalties and distributing them or as complex as to include management of the catalogue.