If I have a contract with a publishing company, who closes their doors, do I have the right to continue publishing my book with a new publisher. I would think since they closed their doors that they have liquidated their rights to the contract.

Tate Publishing had published three of my books and as of January 17th has closed their doors. They made no mention that they were closing and left about 39,000 authors hanging. they sent out an email with a link, http//tatepublishing.com/mktg-release.pdf, for us to send back to release us from the contract and then wants 50 for each book to send us our files. If they closed their doors doesn’t that mean they canceled the contract? I want to continue to publish my books with a new publisher but don’t feel I should send in this form and possibly not be part of law suit in the future. What are my rights?

Asked on March 6, 2017 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

While you should check the contract you signed to see what, if anything, it says about this situation (if it does address it, those terms may still be binding), as a general matter, if they are not going to continue doing what they were supposed to (e.g. publishing, marketing, etc. your books), that would constitute a material breach of contract and allow you to take your book elsewhere. However, they do not necessarily need to turn over their files to you--which files presumbably also incorporate and/or represent  their work (e.g. layout, editorial, etc.) as well as yours; their breach would give you back your rights to your book, but does not give you the rights to their work or contribution. If you want to get their material--and not merely have the right to send your original MS to a different publisher--they can (unless the contract provides otherwise) require you to pay a fee and/or sign some agreement.


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