Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Contracts Committee has released an updated Model Magazine Contract, available on the SFWA website. The Model Contract not only contains a sample contract that magazines can use, but also glosses each clause so writers can understand what rights are affected and why they matter.
Michael Capobianco, one of the model contract’s creators, says, “The Model Magazine Contract is our attempt to draw up a fair agreement that respects the concerns of both authors and publishers. It should not only be helpful to SFWA members and others in evaluating the terms of their short fiction agreements, but sets a standard for all short fiction licenses into the future, strongly supporting the idea that short story rights, even non-exclusive rights, are only licensed for a limited period of time after which they revert to their authors, who then become free to sell exclusive rights once again. Drawing this line has become crucial for digital publication, where it is rapidly becoming the standard that publishers retain non-exclusive rights of the length of the copyright with no additional payments due the author.”
SFWA President Cat Rambo notes, “An updated contract is something that has been frequently requested, and supplying it is a subtle but powerful way to influence the industry. Within ten minutes of tweeting about it, I already had a request for a copy from a publisher who wanted to make sure they were ‘doing it right’.”
Michael Capobianco, Jim Fiscus and Ken Liu did the primary work on the contract, and John Joseph Adams, Michael Armstrong, Charles Coleman Finlay, Jeffrey Liss, and Jonathan Wall provided feedback. Additional model contracts are planned for release over the course of the next year.