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I'm an unintentional author -- now what?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ArnoldBabar, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. ArnoldBabar

    ArnoldBabar Active Member

    Tonight a high school friend wrote me via Facebook saying he was impressed at how many books I had "written." Curious, I looked myself up on Amazon.

    I'm the listed lead author on one book our paper put out on my team's landmark season, and am referenced in a handful of other books that I knew about (Jose Canseco called me an idiot in his first book, which I consider kind of a badge of honor). Plus a few I didn't know about, which cited things I'd written with full credit and bibliography, which I'm fine with.

    But in the list was a baseball anthology, apparently produced by a major baseball publication, that includes an entire story I wrote a few years ago. I'm listed as one of the authors of the book, a 450-page hardcover that goes for $30.

    Thing is, I've never heard of this book and had nothing to do with it. And I've definitely never been paid for it. I'm surprised, pissed off and confused.

    Has anyone else dealt with this? Any idea what happened here? Did my paper sell this behind my back? Did the guy who put the book together just steal it? Is it legal? Do I have any recourse, and if so, where would I start?
  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    You were never honored when I called you an idiot.
  3. ArnoldBabar

    ArnoldBabar Active Member

    Sure I was, but when it happens so often it kind of loses its impact.
  4. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

  5. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    If it's a book I have, I'm going to burn it.

    In a show of support, of course.

    (I think I know the book you're talking about, and I think it was listed as first annual or something, and of course there never was a second)
  6. RayKinsella

    RayKinsella Member

    Out of curiousity, I amazoned myself (it isn't nearly as cool as googling myself).

    I am listed as an author for nothing. I fail at life.
  7. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i think this might help:
  8. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    How 'bout someone actually answer his question?

    I don't think they can use your work without permission. My guess is this is "actionable" but I also guess it's the ol' blood out of a rock thing. You can win. What would you get?
  9. is it possible your paper without you knowing agreed to let them use your stuff? and accepted whatever compensation should have gone your way? they would own the story and legally be able to do it, right?
  10. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    The paper may well have sold the rights, which they probably own (check the rights statements in the book), and pocketed the money, without ever telling you - they are under no legal obligation to give you that money, or even tell you they received it. The anthology editor(s) should have contacted you, but many publications will under no circumstances give out your personal contact info, and we all know that newpaper e-mail boxes sometimes go unread for a long long time. Or else someone at the paper may well have told the anthology editor they were going to do it, and then never have.

    In all likelihood, the rights fee was only a couple of hundred dollars. I've been involved in similar situations. It's not really something to get all worked up about. This is likely a "fell through the cracks thing," not a "the mfer's ripped me off thing." Your work appeared in a book, and that's good. You'll spend more pursuing this legally than you have a prayer of getting back.

    I would contact the book editor and ask for some free copies, though. They'll give them to you.
  11. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    I think your paper is free to do what it wants with the work you do for them, but I could be wrong.
  12. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    They are. Unless you have a different contractual arrangement (which some big names have) they own the copyright and can do what they want with it.
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