New publishing contract in France

Published onDecember 2014

By governmental order No.2014-1348 of 12 November 2014, entered into force on the 1st December 2014, the French Intellectual Property Code has been modified as regards publishing contracts.

The main purpose of the modifications is to adapt the rules related to publishing contracts to the digital era. As a consequence, French law now provides that the publishing contract is made to frame and organize the edition of artistic works whether in a traditional way, i.e. in a printed way, or in a digital way.

The French government also ceased this opportunity to detail more precisely the obligations of the parties in publishing contracts related to literary works.

From now on:

  • The assignment of rights from the author to the publisher needs to be clearly separated into two parts, one for printed edition the other for digital edition; the penalty is the invalidity of the assignment;
  • Since there are two parts in the publishing contract, the assignment of rights from the author to the publisher may be terminated for printed edition or for digital edition independent of each other;
  • The presentation of accounts by the publisher to the author is largely detailed and adjusted to the digital environment;
  • The publishing contract must comprise a provision compelling the parties to revise the financial conditions of the assignment of rights with regard to the digital edition.

Such legal rules are welcome to the extent that they provide for a modernization of publishing contracts. However authors and publishers are now required to rapidly make assignments of rights compatible with these new obligations if they want to avoid contractual invalidity and jeopardy over the edition of their works.

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