Tag Archives: morality clauses in publishing contracts

Is There a “Morality Clause” in Your Book Contract? Better Look.

I personally found this piece from the New York Times chilling. It’s about publishers claiming the right to back out of your contract if, for any reason, you attract negative publicity. Here’s a particularly salient paragraph:

This past year, regular contributors to Condé Nast magazines started spotting a new paragraph in their yearly contracts. It’s a doozy. If, in the company’s “sole judgment,” the clause states, the writer “becomes the subject of public disrepute, contempt, complaints or scandals,” Condé Nast can terminate the agreement. In other words, a writer need not have done anything wrong; she need only become scandalous. In the age of the Twitter mob, that could mean simply writing or saying something that offends some group of strident tweeters.

A source interviewed for the article claims that “the groups subjected to the most public vitriol for their published work” and “most viciously trolled” are “[w]omen and members of minorities.” That stands to reason.

So maybe those of you with publishing contracts should take a second look?

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Filed under business of writing, Publishing, publishing contracts