Do "layout copyrights" include the organization of the literary content inside?
Thread poster: Esn024
Jun 23, 2009

I have the following situation:

I wish to translate & publish a collection of short written pieces from another language into English. This book collects 50 short written works from 20 different authors. I contacted the original publisher, and they told me that they own the "layout rights" to the book (it's an expensive collector's book), but that their original agreements with the authors only included the original publication, so for any further publication (such as a translation) they would have to make a new agreement with each author.

My question is: if I manage to contact all of the authors myself, make agreements with them, switch the order of the written pieces around, and change the "look" of the book inside and outside, do I have to deal with the original publishing company? In other words, does the concept of "layout" include only things such as "font type, position of letters, position of artwork" or does it also include "particular collection of content"?

P.S. the actual term they used was "maquette rights", which I assume translates to "layout rights" in English.

[Edited at 2009-06-23 05:52 GMT]


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JoFP
Local time: 22:22
French to English
+ ...
Interesting question... Jun 23, 2009

...to which I'm afraid I don't have the answer. I wouldn't think that "maquette" rights would cover the selection of the authors, but it seems to me that such a selection could be copyrighted.

Your plan may also require you to get the translation rights not from the authors themselves, but from their publishers, as it is often--but not always--the publishers who hold these rights. Sometimes authors aren't even aware that they have signed them away.


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JoFP
Local time: 22:22
French to English
+ ...
Addendum Jun 24, 2009

Let me add that taking the same authors and rearranging the order reveals a guilty conscience or an intent to hide a crime. It's like the plagiarist who changes a few words from the text he has copied so he won't get caught.

In short, I think with your plan you run afoul of the spirit of copyright law, though perhaps not the letter.


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Do "layout copyrights" include the organization of the literary content inside?

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