Writers and authors: useful resources
This information sheet lists resources, including sample agreements, which authors, writers and illustrators may find useful. It includes a brief description of the different resources available from other useful organisations.
In this information sheet:
Authors and writers may find themselves in different contractual situations across different media. Whether they sign an agreement with a publisher, hire an agent or commission artwork for their literary work, publish their work online or produce a television script, they require contracts to state their rights and obligations, ensure their dealings are explicitly recognised by the contracting parties and protected by law. The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law), the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) provide a plethora of resources for various contractual situations.
This information sheet lists resources, including contracts, available for authors and writers to organise their dealings with others, and explains when the different contracts can be used.
ASA resources are free for members; rates apply for non-members. AWG resources are strictly available to members.
Arts Law Centre of Australia
This information sheet provides basic information on copyright such as: how it arises; who owns it; and how long it lasts. It also gives an overview about dealing with copyright.
This information sheet provides basic information on moral rights and their significance for authors.
This information sheet provides an introduction to contracts and agreements, outlining the main areas a person should consider when presented with a contract, or when drafting a contract.
This information sheet lists some of the more common legal terms used in drafting, negotiating, discussing, entering or arguing about an agreement.
This information sheet provides information as to the legal issues relevant to using crowdfunding platforms to find contributors of funding so that authors can carry out writing and publishing projects.
Copyright law does not protect ideas, only the original expression of ideas in material form. This information sheet explains how to protect ideas and gives an overview of the law of confidentiality. It also includes a sample deed of confidentiality.
The following sample agreements available for purchase from Arts Law might be relevant to authors and writers:
The Image Reproduction Licence for a Publication is a sample agreement for the licensing of an existing visual image for reproduction in a publication.
This is a two part sample agreement. It is used where a filmmaker seeks permission from the author of an existing literary work to develop the work into a film script. The Option Agreement gives the filmmaker exclusive rights for a specified period to develop a treatment and find funding for the film. At the end of that period the option either lapses and all rights revert to the author or the Purchase Agreement becomes effective to transfer rights to the filmmaker in return for a payment.
The Writer and Commissioner Agreement should be used when a writer is commissioned to write a piece in a visual arts context, for example a monograph or a short catalogue essay for an exhibition.
The sample Interviewee's Releases can be used when an interviewer wishes to record and use an interview with another person.
Australian Society of Authors (ASA)
ASA is a professional association that promotes and protects the rights of writers and illustrators. ASA seeks to promote a strong literary industry by setting writers’ rates and conditions. ASA also advocates on law reform.
ASA’s services for members include a subsidised contract advisory service, telephone and email advice, a mentorship program for emerging writers, and access to online resources such as sample agreements.
In 2017 Arts Law is trialling a partnership with ASA to provide you with a inclusive industry assessment of your publishing offer, plus a legal review of the terms of the contract. You can submit your contract assessment query through the ASA website. Your contract will then be assessed by ASA and Arts Law. You will receive helpful advice on whether the agreement meets both industry and legal standards.
General tips on how to approach publishers and agents.
A paper outlining issues involved in eBook publishing.
Papers outlining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual and cultural property and the related copyright and identity issues for writers and publishers.
Sample agreements and advice
The following resources are free for ASA members, or $11 per sample agreement for non-members.
The Model Publishing Agreement Template is a basic book publishing agreement for authors and illustrators, which sets out the ASA recommended minimum terms and conditions for publishing fiction and non-fiction works.
The Joint Authorship & Agreement outlines the ASA recommended terms and conditions for writers wishing to work together.
The Commissioned Works Agreement is designed for the commissioning of literary works. It provides a sample agreement and a discussion of terms and conditions that can arise in this context.
The Ghost-writing Agreement is designed for ghost-writers. It provides a sample agreement and discussion of the terms and conditions that can arise in this context.
The Performance and Appearance Agreement is designed for writers making public appearances or performances, for example lectures, television, radio, panels, poetry recitals or book readings.
The Literary Agent and Author Agreement is designed for writers and/or illustrators who are signing with literary agents, and sets out recommended terms and conditions.
The Model E-Publishing Agreement Template is designed for authors creating stand-alone digital publications, such as eBooks, and sets out the basis for an e-publishing agreement. In addition to the Template, ASA recommends e-publishing authors also read the ASA paper eBooks: Royalties and Contracts.
The Poetry Book/ Anthology Licence is for authors and publishers, and sets out rates and conditions for re/printing a poem as an anthology.
A paper providing general advice on the illustration process and a list of Australian publishers of illustrated children’s books.
Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG)
AWG is a professional association that promotes and protects the rights of Australian performance writers (film, television, theatre, radio and digital media). AWG advocates the improvement of professional standards, conditions and remuneration for Australian performance writers. Its services to members include legal and industrial advice, online sample agreements and informational resources, workshops and seminars, as well as supporting domestic performance writers in a global marketplace.
· Theatre Industry Agreement
The Theatre Industry Agreement is a collective agreement between the AWG and signatories detailing the industry standard terms and conditions for theatre writers. The Agreement includes a Commissioning Agreement, Licensing Agreement and Theatre in Education/Community Theatre agreements.
· Miniseries and Telemovie Agreement (MATA)
MATA is a collective agreement between the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) and AWG detailing the industry standard terms and conditions for agreements with writers of television mini-series and telemovies
· Series and Serials Agreement (SASA)
SASA is a collective agreement between SPAA and AWG detailing the industry standard terms and conditions for agreements with writers of television series. It includes a Writer's Contract.
· Children’s Television Agreement
The Children’s Television Agreement & Writer’s Contract is a collective agreement between SPAA and AWG detailing the industry standard terms and conditions for agreements with writers of children’s animations and live action series.
All three agreements include a Writer's Contract.
· Feature Film Option Agreement and Assignment Deed
The Feature Film Option Agreement and Assignment Deed is used to option and assign copyright in a script for a feature film.
· Feature Film Writer's Agreement
The Feature Film Writer's Agreement can be used in relation to the commission of a feature film script.
· Short Film Writer's Contract
The Short Film Writer's Contract is a sample contract for commissioning short film scripts.
· Script Editor's Agreement
The Script Editor's Agreement is a sample agreement used when commissioning someone to edit a script.
Corporate film agreements
· Corporate Commercial Contract
The Corporate Commercial Contract is used when corporate films are commissioned for commercial exploitation.
· Corporate Non-Commercial Contract.
The Corporate Non-Commercial Contract is used when corporate films are commissioned for a non-commercial exploitation.
· General Release Form
The General Release Form is an assignment form for the release of copyright.
· Confidentiality Agreement
The Confidentiality Agreement is a sample agreement dealing with non-disclosure obligations surrounding a script.
· Real Person Consent Deed
The Real Person Consent Deed is a sample agreement for a person to give consent for use of their personal stories and events.
· Submission Release Form
The Submission Release Form is used when submitting scripts to producers.
· Co-writers Agreement
The Co-writers Agreement is a sample agreement for writers who wish to collaborate on a script.
· AWG Rights Assignment Letter
The AWG Rights Assignment Letter is used for assignments of copyright between co-writers.
The Australian Copyright Council (Copyright Council) is a non-profit organisation that seeks to educate about the mechanism and the importance of copyright. It aims at supporting artists and other copyright owners in knowing and enforcing their rights. The Copyright Council’s website contains information sheets, an online bookstore and information about upcoming seminars in relation to copyright. Furthermore, the Copyright Council provides free legal advice to individual creators (e.g. composers, writers, artists, film makers, and photographers) and people working in arts organisations who satisfy the eligibility criteria.
The following sources of information might be of specific interest to writers:
This information sheet focuses on the legal issues in relation to the artistic use of family histories and dealings with source material.
This information sheet contains specific information for creators of newsletters and touches on including third party content.
This information sheet provides specialised information on using collections of material such as anthologies, databases or directories.
“Parodies, Satire & Jokes” might prove helpful whenever you want to include humorous material from third parties into your work.
This information sheet deals with legal issues involving the use of other people’s writings.
“Translations & Copyright” sheds some light on the question of whether you need a permission to translate other people’s works in whole or in part.
This information sheet contains general information about copyright issues writers might have to face.
There are a number of books for sale through the Copyright Council. “Writers & copyright” could be useful to writers as it provides detailed information on legal issues relevant to them.
A compilation of FAQs relating to writers’ legal concerns, such as “Can I get legal protection for the title of my book?” can be found on the Copyright Council’s website.
The Copyright Agency Limited (Copyright Agency) is a non-for-profit collecting society. Copyright Agency collects and distributes royalties and licensing fees, including royalties from statutory licences, on behalf of copyrights owners. Copyright Agency's website contains general information on copyright as well as specific content relevant to writers, for example:
- Copyright for journalists
This information sheet provides an overview of the legal issues involved in writing for a newspaper or magazine, especially as an employee.
The platform Digital Publishing Australia was created in February 2012 to serve as a forum and a source of information for authors involved in digital publishing. The website contains case studies, links to other learning resources and a guide on digital publishing that can be downloaded free of charge (http://digitalpublishingaustralia.org.au/digital-publishing-guide/). Copyright Agency manages and funds the platform.
· For media writers: Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
· Writers Victoria http://writersvictoria.org.au/ Level 3, The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000. Phone (+61) 03 9094 7855 Fax (+61) 03 9650 8010. Email [email protected]
· Tasmanian Writers’ Centre http://www.tasmanianwriters.org/ First Floor, Salamanca Arts Centre, 77 Salamanca Place, Hobart Tasmania. Phone (+61) 03 6224 0029 Fax (+61) 03 6223 3354 Email [email protected]
Need more help?
If you have questions about any of the topics discussed above please contact Arts Law.
The information in this information sheet is general. It does not constitute, and should be not relied on as, legal advice. The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) recommends seeking advice from a qualified lawyer on the legal issues affecting you before acting on any legal matter.
While Arts Law tries to ensure that the content of this information sheet is accurate, adequate or complete, it does not represent or warrant its accuracy, adequacy or completeness. Arts Law is not responsible for any loss suffered as a result of or in relation to the use of this information sheet. To the extent permitted by law, Arts Law excludes any liability, including any liability for negligence, for any loss, including indirect or consequential damages arising from or in relation to the use of this information sheet.
© Arts Law Centre of Australia
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The Arts Law Centre of Australia has been assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.