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The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers [Paperback]

by Lloyd J. Jassin, Steven C. Schechter
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 4, 1998 0471146544 978-0471146544 1
"A thoughtful, comprehensive, and invaluable guide for writers."--Bernard Lefkowitz, Professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

"Easy to read and understand . . . should be on every publisher's reference shelf."--Jan Nathan, Executive Director, Publishers Marketing Association

For anyone who has ever faced the confusing web of copyright and libel laws, this practical, problem-solving guide is a godsend. In clear, jargon-free language, legal experts provide the information and techniques you need to prepare a manuscript or multimedia work for publication. You'll learn how to:
* Clear rights for all types of copyrighted materials, including quotations, photographs, fine art, motion picture stills, song lyrics, and more
* Protect yourself against libel suits
* Determine if a work is in the public domain
* Assess if quoting without permission qualifies as fair use
* Locate rights holders
* Negotiate clearances

Includes library of sample forms:
* permission letter
* interview release
* model release
* work-made-for-hire agreement
* copyright assignment
* photograph license

Frequently Bought Together

The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers + The Writer's Legal Companion: The Complete Handbook For The Working Writer, Third Edition + Author Law A To Z: A Desktop Guide to Writers' Rights and Responsibilities (Capital Ideas)
Price for all three: $38.64

Some of these items ship sooner than the others.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Any writer or editor not concerned about copyright and libel ought to be. While the laws governing copyright are more straightforward than those regarding libel, disregarding either can land a writer or publication in a lot of hot water. Very hot. While the authors of The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook state outright that their guide should not take the place of an attorney, they explain copyright and libel issues in great detail, so that, at the very least, you'll know when to be on the alert. Copyright is relatively simple. "If you intend to use someone's copyrighted work," say Jassin and Schechter, "unless the use is considered a fair use, you must obtain that person's written permission." Of course, "fair use" gets tricky. One court determined that the Moral Majority's reproduction of a full ad from Hustler magazine was a fair use, while another ruled that The Nation's reproduction of 300 words from President Ford's 20,000-word unpublished memoirs was not.

Libel is more complicated. Each state (and the District of Columbia) has its own libel laws. And, no, fiction is not exempt, even if you've changed the name and hair color of an otherwise identifiable person. "The best defense to libel," say the authors, "is verifiable truth." Included: detailed checklists--concerning fair use, copyright protection, copyright permission, libel, and "media perils" insurance--and sample forms for requesting permissions, obtaining releases, summarizing permissions, and writing libel disclaimers. --Jane Steinberg

From Booklist

This manual allays a fear among publishing, broadcast, and film folk: getting sued. Copyright infringement is a manageable risk, if one understands the fair use doctrine and the procedures for acquiring and buying the right to reproduce material others have created. Both authors are lawyers, with book publishing experience in Jassin's case, which inform their practical tips about permissions. Often one needn't even request permission (advice endorsed by this former permissions clerk, whose favorite office appliance was the "fair use" rubber stamp), because such material can be classified as falling within public domain laws by comparing copyright dates with the two copyright acts (of 1909 and 1976) that govern them. But in doubt one should obtain permission, for which this book provides sample letters and addresses. Libel is a more dangerous animal, as can be attested by anyone threatened with a defamation suit. The authors define the legal nuances of libel and urge using care and caution when writing about public figures--and calling a lawyer when a nasty letter arrives. Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (February 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471146544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471146544
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lloyd Jassin is a publishing and entertainment attorney, and adjunct professor at NYU. As an attorney he analyzes, negotiates and drafts entertainment contracts, and consults for other attorneys on IP and business issues. He graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School, and is a member of the NY and NJ bars. He is on The Beacon Press advisory board, and is counsel to the Independent Book Publishers Association. Contact: He blogs on publishing law and digital rights issues at

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Writers have two Copyright Questions October 6, 2000
(From my book Successful Nonfiction: Tips and Techniques for Getting Published)
1. How can I guard against others stealing my writing?
Relax. The moment you create a written Work, it is automatically copyrighted under Common Law. Once the book is published, you may send two copies to the Copyright Office with the two-page Form TX and $30 to register or perfect your copyright.
Some (new) authors copyright their manuscript. Later, when they turn it into a book, they print the original copyright date. This makes the book appear to be old, and that hurts sales.
Most authors wait and send the finished book to the Copyright Office for registration....
A registered copyright only gains the author some extra rights. The difference is between copyright and registered copyright, not between not copyrighted and copyrighted. Copyright occurs automatically with creation-when you initially write it.
Publishers rarely steal manuscripts. They are in the publishing business not the writing business. Manuscripts are cheap and publishers do not even have to pay the authors until months after the books are sold. There is little incentive to rip you off.
"The instinct of ownership is fundamental in man's nature." -William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist.
2. How much may I borrow from others?
Borrow ideas, borrow facts, but do not steal words. Copyright covers the author's presentation or expression-a sequence or pattern of words. It does not protect ideas. If you read and blend the ideas of other authors and put the collective thought into your own words, that is perfectly legal. This is how most nonfiction books are written-from research.
Do not repeat any of the research materials word-for-word.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding primer for publishers and writers July 14, 1999
Presents clear, lucid overview of the many trickly and, potentially toublesome, legal issues in using another's copyrighted work. The libel discussion is equally clear and lucid. Quesion and answer format is a plus.Contains no legalize as it written expressly for nonlawyer. Highly recommmended for both publishers and writers.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clear and to the point October 17, 2000
By poundie
While preparing to publish my second book (with number 3 on the way) I realized I needed some basic information about publishing and libel law. I found a copy of this book in the reference section of the law library at my university. The sections on libel were concise and to the point. I have not compared the book to other sources, but found it was very clear on the issues of importance to me. I've decided to order a copy to keep for reference, and I think it would be useful to most writers.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This handbook provides a comprehensive overview and useful explanations of copyright, fair use, permission releases, and libel. It's well-organized and easy to read. Helpful summary checklists are provided at the end of key chapters. The book is a good resource for authors to have in their reference collections. It's a bargain--reasonably priced and loaded with relevant information.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical help and thoughtful commentary August 22, 1997
By A Customer
The lucid explanations of every aspect of a subject that confounds many make this book an indispensable tool for publishing professionals, writers and students. Loaded with practical help and thoughtful commentary
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a must-read for all writers. It's a great guide for copyright and also for releases. A friend of mine is a professional photographer and teaches photography. She just made all of her students buy a copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Book Needs a Second Edition June 8, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by two attorneys, this book is instructive on copyright and libel. It's organized in a outline form, which makes these legal topics easy to read. I did not give it five stars, however, because the book was written in 1998. A second edition of the book that discusses Internet and blog writing would be helpful. Nevertheless, I am satisfied with the book and recommend it to others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference for small publishers March 26, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My husband and I have a small publishing company. We received our copy of this book recently and have already turned to it when we have had a question about permissions. I have skimmed the chapters and know that it will be a useful book for us to have on our shelf. I found the recommendation from blogger, Janet Grant at her Books and Such blog. She is a literary agent and I trust her judgement. I recommend it, too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful.
This book is extremely helpful. The forms are also worth the price of the book. Up to date information to keep writers out of trouble and within their first amendment rights.
Published 1 month ago by Karen E.Koskoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Great information
I was happy with this book. This was the information that I was looking for. It's good to use for a reference material.
Published 3 months ago by Kirsten Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Resource for every writer
Easy read - set up well. The subject matter is understandably dry - but a necessary evil in today's sue-happy society!
Published 4 months ago by Heather Hamel
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful and practical advice
This book is written well, contains practical advice, and is helpful for someone who is writing and needs guidance to stay out of trouble.
Published 11 months ago by Toepia
1.0 out of 5 stars They never sent it
This is about the seller. I did get a refund after a was not the fault of Amazon...they are great!
Published 15 months ago by C
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books to have in your writers library
Whether you are seeking to be published or self-publishing be sure to reference this book often and follow it's suggestions. You'll never regret it! Read more
Published 16 months ago by K. H. Tendril Press
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
this seller is totally awesome, fast delivery and just like i ordered it. I highly recommend this book as well. Read more
Published 16 months ago by collin
5.0 out of 5 stars The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook
This is a pretty well written book. There is a lot of very useful information in this book from the standpoint of both a person who has copyrights and from the standpoint of the... Read more
Published on December 21, 2011 by steshe865
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