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Is it possible to terminate a contract?

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Maler, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. Maler

    Maler Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    New York
    In 2003 I decided to write a non-fiction book on some actual political subject. It wasn’t my first book. The work was in progress till 2007 but counting the pure time spent it took two years to write the book. After finishing the writing I started searching for a publisher first in my country and then in other countries too. The book was written not in English so I had to hire a translator and pay him $3000 for a translation of the manuscript into English. Finally some New York publishing house decided to publish my manuscript. I contacted them first approximately in 2008 and the book was published in 2010.

    I liked the contract offered by publishing house. There was everything provided for: the publishing house took responsibility for publishing the book in English, promised to search for publishers all over the world (in other languages), secured its right to publish the book not only on paper but also in digital form and acquired its right for all coming new editions, revised and new versions of the book. In short I liked such a business approach and hoped for collaboration for many years in different forms. I was also to receive a royalty from sales.

    Unfortunately, during a long period of time I haven’t seen any results of this collaboration. Though the contract provided for some quite good royalty it was no use because it depended on sales. According to the publishing house’ reports, which I kept getting annually, the sales were next to none and during many years hadn’t exceeded the number of 100 copies and all the income from them covered production costs.

    At first the publishing house answered me that the sales of such books start to grow after two years after publishing. But four years after publishing passed and nothing have changed. The same I could say about other aspects of the contract: no attempts of publishing the book in other languages for other countries or publishing it in digital form were made by the publishing house.

    So at some moment I realized that there is no sense to expect something other from this publishing house and I offered them to terminate the contract but the publishing house rejected my offer.

    After that I spent some time to learn what information special web-sites provide on such situations. I learned that there are some “cunning ruses and tricks” used by publishing houses to draw up a contract for its own benefit. I re-read my contract and found nearly every classical ruses in it: in fact the publishing house didn’t take any responsibility on itself, the contract was of unlimited duration and didn’t provide any strong reasons, which I could use to terminate a contract in a one-way fashion.

    As a result of spending several years on writing a book I did not earn anything and also failed to provide readers with it.
    I had plans on creating new, improved and supplemented versions of the book. Last year I wrote to the publishing house and offered to publish a new version of the book but after rewriting the contract under fairer terms. The publisher rejected my offer: i.e. they agree to publish the book but only under terms of the existing contract. Of course I by no means want to agree to such terms because having negative experience it is clear for me that I am to spend lots of efforts only to get a tiny number of printed copies and earn nothing.

    So that is how this New York publishing house actually blocked the finished book’s path to readers and also prevented me from developing the project and creating new versions of the book. It is impossible for me to collaborate with this publishing house and also impossible to collaborate with any other publishers according to the existing contract.

    I spent much time on writing the book and I counted on the coincidence of my interests and interests of my business partner, i.e. the publishing house would publish and sell the book, it would as a result get its profit and I would get my royalty. As far as I understand now, my interests are unimportant for a publisher but what is the profit for a publisher, I cannot understand. Actually they buried my book without any profit for themselves.

    I believe that such case can be challenged at court and it does not conform to the USA legislation and business standards in the sphere of book publishing.
    As I learned later gathering information about this publishing house, it is managed by immigrants from the USSR. I suppose that they do not know any better ways of conducting business and they interpret freely some peculiarities of legal regulation of a book publishing business in the USA and, of course, do it for their own benefit bringing book publishing business in the USA into disrepute.

    Is it possible to terminate a contract in spite of the publishing house’ objections or is there any legal arguments for making a publishing house offer concessions? Or maybe there is a possibility to make the publishing house pay me an indemnity? I do not know what to do in such a situation. Maybe the assignation of claims will help? Or are there any other means to solve the problem?

    I will appreciate any advices and recommendations. Thank you.
     
  2. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    Have you taken the full contract to a US attorney to be reviewed at any point in the process?

    Honestly it sounds like you signed your rights away and that the book is just not popular. If the publishing house can't sell 100 copies in the US, why would they put time and effort into translating it into other languages? Their goal is profitable books. Yours was not. And I am not sure a 2nd edition/improved/supplemented book would do any better and I suspect they know that also.
     
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You need an attorney in the USSR, because that's where you're posting from, not the USA.
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Literally anything "can be challenged in court," but that has nothing to do with the chances of succeeding.

    Which legislation would that be?

    Based on your description of your research, it sounds like the contract does indeed conform to "business standards," but in any event, "business standards" are not law.

    A contract? Sometimes, but that doesn't mean that you can terminate your contract, and no one can intelligently tell you if your contract can be terminated without reading it.

    I'm guessing English isn't your first language, but this makes no sense.

    I suggest you consult with an attorney in New York where the publisher is located.

    That would be awfully tough since the USSR hasn't existed in over 25 years. :)
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    True that, :)

    Except a "commie" by any other name is but a "commie" to me.

    Continent: Europe
    Country: Russia
    State/Region: Chelyabinsk
    City: Chelyabinsk
    Latitude: 55.154 (55° 9′ 14.40″ N)
    Longitude: 61.4291 (61° 25′ 44.76″ E)
    Postal Code: 454002
     
  6. Maler

    Maler Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Of course, You are perceptive as Columbo.
     

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