The Rights Story

This is a story.

A story about protecting a story and keeping it alive.

Everything emotion we feel is a story—happiness, sadness; everyone we come across has a story—a loser, a winner; every experience is a story—of travel, heart breaks, epiphanies, search for self, search for love. Yes, even a non-fiction has a story.

We live on stories. We each have a story. Every story carries a value, a right—a right to be heard, to be shared, to be owned. So, one day, a group of story enthusiasts (or collectors) decided that stories must be spread far and wide. The story needs to live. It isn’t fair that we haven’t lived in the tales from Japan or Mozambique. So these collectors met other collectors with a desire to share to keep the story alive.

Well, I wish keeping a story alive, helping it spread it wings and fly across the world were as easy as it sounds. There were other things to be considered. People needed to acknowledge the collectors, needed to give value to their right to spread the story. With this right, a story could now travel to different places, could be understood in different languages and be passed on to the young. It was no longer tucked away in some box until a curious child opened it, blew off the dust, gingerly turned the pages with wide eyes.

So, the collectors created a binding contract—a strict disciplinarian, an old woman with bee-shaped glasses, who’d watch its every move with a stern gaze and should it toe out of the line would rap its knuckles and pull it back despite all its tantrums. But the wise, motherly contract only wants what’s best for the story and for it to be treated right. She protects, she provides but she does allow the collectors to add certain things or tweak it around as time passes on.

Contracts help the story to live, to exist. The story blooms, can travel the world happily while the collectors discuss the nitty-gritty details and work out a contract. This is what a contract looks like:

BETWEEN STORY COLLECTOR X (Proprietor) & STORY COLLECTOR YTHE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN AGREED:-       The right to publish in a language Y publishes – name of the work – listing out territories where the story can be shared – mentioning the kind of contract (open or close; exclusive or non-exclusive).

–       The time period of the validity of the contract.

–       The sale price, the printrun and the royalty scale – and the advance (whether or not refundable).  If the advance is not paid or agreement not signed, the contract can be annulled.

–       Number of copies to be sent to X, including of reprint edition.

–       A promise to commit to a faithful translation of the original work.

–       An approval from X is needed for all additions made to the work.

–       The name of the author, the original title and the year to be acknowledged on both the copyright page.

–       The time within which Y must publish the work. Here, X can add a clause that indicates that X has the right to cancel the contract and revert all rights if  Y fails to meet the deadline.

–       Sub-license: If  Y decides to share the story in a territory other than their own, Y can sub-license the story to a collector of that territory

–       Subsidiary Rights:  X can reserve all the subsidiary rights which include the pre publication rights, e-book rights, anthology rights and the rights for adaptations.

However, an interesting scenario can develop. More than one collector can demand a story at the same time. This is when the collector who owns the story would note the initial offers given and say, ‘Well, I have been offered would you like to match that?’ Usually, the story is given to the collector who wants to buy the story with the highest offer; however, if the owner-collector believes that someone else, albeit with a low offer, would do more justice to the story then that is taken into account too.

The contract is set and now the collector is pleased with his efforts.

There is in me a rush of excitement, when I look up at the departure board in an airport that lists out every city in the world and I feel that I can pick any place I want. Perhaps the story feels the same way. It can now be alive in your heart, and remain in your memory, always.

Deepthy Rajagopalan