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Condé Nast's New Boilerplate Freelancer Agreement Contains Company's Exclusive Right to Option Film and TV Rights in its Magazine Articles

By Joan Faier

A January 14th New York Times article reports that Condé Nast's new boilerplate contract for its freelance magazine writers gives the company the exclusive right for a limited time period to option film and television rights to its writers' articles. On the same day, a posting on the Authors Guild (AG) website entitled Condé Nast Moves to Seize, Lowball Freelancers' Film/TV Rights describes this provision of the new contract, which was introduced last year, as "breaking longstanding industry practice." The AG's posting says the new contract provides the company with a "free, exclusive 12-month right to option dramatic and multimedia rights" to articles as well as the right to extend the period, at Condé Nast's sole choice, for up to 24 months for a "modest sum." According to the AG posting, if Condé Nast exercises its option for film or television rights to an article, then the writer, in accordance with the new standard terms, would be paid below-the-industry norm for such rights -- only 1% of the film or television production budget as opposed to the typical industry- negotiated compensation of 2.5% or more of the production budget.

The New York Times article points out that the plans to secure these rights which previously belonged to the writers began in late 2011, when Condé Nast formed an entertainment group because it wanted a share of potential profits from film and television projects based on its writers' works. The Times quotes a Condé Nast spokesperson as saying, "As we expand into digital, film and television entertainment, we are excited to bring the extraordinary work of our writers and photographers to these platforms, showcase their content in new ways, and create expanded opportunities for their work to be enjoyed by new audiences."

The article also states that some writers and agents are still "skeptical" about how many such entertainment projects Condé Nast will be able to bring to fruition. The AG's posting notes that some authors, those "with significant negotiating clout," have reportedly been able to "substantially alter or eliminate the option terms of the new boilerplate agreement." Condé Nast publishes 18 consumer magazines in the U.S., including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, Glamour and Self.



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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 17, 2013 11:57 AM.

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