I have a question regarding intellectual property law. I am writing a book, for which there will be a foreword and an afterword, written by a separate author. I'd like to ask if having a foreword and an afterword by another author means that I would no longer have sole ownership or sole copyright of my book? Also, would having a foreword/afterword by a separate author impact me financially, re royalties? Does that mean that the authors of the foreword and afterword would receive royalties for the life of the book's publication? Please help, I'm a first-time author at a loss. Thank you.
2 Answers from Attorneys
No, of course not. When you go to register the book with the US Copyright Office you can just curtain off the portions not contributed by you.
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When the writing is done, the individuals who write the foreword and afterword would own rights in their writings, and you own rights in yours. However, when a book is published, you will be conveying your copyright to the publisher in exchange for payment which probably will include royalties. It is often said that copyright is a "bundle" of rights which includes a number of components you own and can transfer as you see fit. Some publishers ask for broader rights than others: some may, for example, ask for motion picture rights while others will not. Of course, they need the right to publish in book form, but apart from that everything is negotiable. How much you receive is always negotiable (and a function of how much power you have in the industry). You would probably not be negotiating on behalf of the other writers, unless you make an agreement with them in advance as to how, if at all, they will be compensated.
Negotiating rights to literary work of any type can be complex and should be done by a lawyer experienced in copyright and the field you work, in this case publishing. A good book/literary agent will also be helpful in getting a good deal, but often agents do not concern themselves with the minutiae that can bite the unwary.