Monday, September 8, 2008

So, What, You Can't Get Arrested?

This just in from my feed of Meg Cabot's blog: Morality clause on contracts for Random House Children's division.

It says:

"If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement."

One person submits that this is in response to a case in which a respected children's author was jailed for multiple counts of molestation. If that's so, I don't see how a clause in a book contract helps - if a pedophile with existing such impulses can be restrained from acting on them by signing a contract, maybe we should have all humans sign a document saying they won't ever be immoral in any way. And if this is to protect a publisher, well, that's a valid reason, but at what expense? Violating the rights of a load of authors for one or two who'll potentially stray?

Personally, I'd hate to be stuck with this sort of a contract. I sure hope authors presented with it have agents who can renegotiate the clause. A publisher does not own their writers, only the conditioned copyright for which they paid. Imagine the position this puts debut novelists with only a dotted line away from seeing their dream come true. *sigh*


Amee said...

I'm actually okay with it. I mean studios can drop their talent when their behavior becomes undesirable. It's kind of a part of your work whether it's a movie or a book. Someone is paying to get your work out there so that you both make money off it. If you may cost them more money than is worth it to them, why should they keep you around?

How many authors out there are going to not sign the contract because of that clause? Seriously, who is planning on becoming unsuitable to work with children but still would like to get their book published?

I agree that it won't stop any authors from becoming pedophiles if that's the path they're on, but how is it violating any rights?

alison ashlee said...

I think it's certainly a strange claus. I've never thought of them adding in such a thing because, like you said, the publisher buys the book, and not the person. The person doesn't equal the book. And, what I do in my spare time (By this, I mean, normal general things, and not criminal activities ... although, I believe that would be the same as well) is none of anyone else's business.

I do understand that reputation is key, and once, you've lost it, it can be hard to reclaim your status again. But, I still find it quite weird for an author's contract. For a person working in other fields, it makes sense, but, it just still seems weird for an author.

Sorry, I can't say my thoughts clearly, but I do agree with everything you said, and that's far more eloquent!

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