09 May 2014
If you’re doing any indie projects, don’t sell your books through Blurb.
Passive Guy, who is a contract lawyer, says:
PG says that any licensing provision that is one immensely long sentence raises suspicions in his ever-suspicious mind that counsel is trying to put readers to sleep so they don’t pay attention to the sentence.
He will suggest, however, that the presence of words like “worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, perform, display, distribute, adapt, modify, re-format, create derivative works of, and otherwise commercially or non-commercially exploit in any manner” should raise concerns in any author’s mind.
PG hasn’t read the rest of this document and it is possible it includes other provisions that ameliorate the rights grab in this paragraph. However, PG doesn’t believe this is good drafting practice either. PG has tried a number of cases involving complex contracts and has seen judges completely screw up interpretation of complex contract provisions.
See also Meryl Yourish’s post here:
She highlights a point and says: “Here’s a clause that no writer, ever, should agree to.”
Going on the TOS alone, I would recommend that no indie ever publish with Blurb. These are terrible terms of service, and a horrible rights grab designed to screw the author.
That’s my take on it as well.
Blurb responded to me via Twitter with a link, saying, “We totally understand your concerns. We put together an FAQ that we hope clears things up.” Here’s the link.
No. A FAQ does not change the terms of the contract. It clears up nothing. It changes nothing. It expresses the current stated intent of the company, but it is not binding.
Blurb is demanding irrevocable rights.
Back to PG. He adds the following:
The combined length of Blurb’s various TOS documents is far, far longer than the longest New York publishing agreement PG has ever reviewed. (And PG is not holding New York publishing agreements up as any sort of paradigm of clarity.)
One of the things PG would do is call the CEO of the company to the witness stand and ask him/her to explain the meaning of various parts of the TOS. That would be a lovely show.
Just don’t want it to be over your book.