Authors Law and Legal Definition

Authors and writers develop original fiction and nonfiction for books, magazines, trade journals, online publications, company newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, motion pictures, and advertisements. Editors examine proposals and select material for publication or broadcast. They review and revise a writer’s work for publication or dissemination. Technical writers develop technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. They also may assist in layout work.

Thousands of other individuals work as freelance writers, earning some income from their articles, books, and, less commonly, television and movie scripts. Most support themselves with income derived from other sources.

The personal service agreement is a primary legal instrument in the publishing industry. This agreement is negotiated between an artist and a company that manufactures, promotes, and distributes the author's writings or services. The agreement often binds the author to produce for one company for a certain period of time. Copyright and licensing agreements are also common.

A license is a contract through which the artist or copyright holder grants certain rights to another party. For instance, a novelist might grant a license to a film studio to create a screenplay based on a novel. A license specifies the fee or royalty to be paid to the author, the exact scope of use of the copyrighted material, and the time period for which the company may use the material, as well as any other conditions the parties agree to attach to the license.