Imagine a writer whose book has been published, whether self-published or not, and has attracted the eye of either a movie or TV company (screen rights), a theater play producer (stage rights) or a radio program (broadcasting rights).
The writer, or the publisher, depending on the publishing contract if applicable, owns the rights and can sell them to any such potential buyer.
So it is good to have an idea of how the fees are calculated and how payment is customarily scheduled. Of course each contract is tailor made, and it is good to have a copyright lawyer or an agent to look it over, but it does not hurt to have a general idea.
Let’s have a brief look on screen rights
How are Fees for Rights Calculated?
Film or TV rights fees will normally be based on a percentage of the film’s budget, and will not normally begin to be paid to the author until the first day of the shooting, which is when it becomes 100% definite project will be realized. However, in advance of that day, an agreement is made with the author. This determines the fees agreed in principle, and secure a firm engagement not to sell the rights to anyone else for a set period of time. This is called an “option” on the rights.
What is a Rights’ Option?
In the development stages of the script and the movie, a contract is normally drawn up agreeing a set amount for an “option” on the rights for the book. Usually this amount is a percentage of the full fee for the rights, and the option lasts for one year, renewable. These amounts will also normally be deducted from the full rights fee, when these are due. In case the movie never gets shot, the book’s author is entitled to keep the amounts he or she has received for the options and the rights are reverted to him.
For more on Screen, Stage and Broadcasting rights, I highly recommend consulting on-line the relevant section of the book Selling Rights by Lynette Owen.
For more info on copyrights issues : Literary Law Guide For Authors