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Attorney Wayne
Attorney Wayne, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Practicing Law Since 2000
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I need to get the rights back to my book. The CA publisher

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I need to get the rights back to my book. The CA publisher said that I have the rights back as of 3-31-13, but reduses to take it off the market until he sells all 576 remaining copies. My local (OH) attorney said that that the pub. is in breach of the original contract seeing how he forgot to check formatting, and it was horrible - unsellable. Still, his comment to my lawyer was, "So, then come out to CA and sue me." I can't afford that. Please help if poss!
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Hello. Thanks for contacting us.

I am so sorry to hear of this. The thing is, copyright law is federal. If there is a copyright violation then the copyright law allows the party whose work is infringed to sue in any federal court. I would suggest seeking a local attorney in your area who has copyright experience. While a lot of generalists or local business lawyers will take on a matter -- the law is specialized enough that its better to have someone who actually has experience with it.

The key to any copyright law suit is to first register the work at the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. It can be done online and the cost is modest.

While copyrights are automatically created when a book is written, court action to protect a copyright requires registration. All books are considered "literary works" even if they are non-fiction -- just in case there is question as to which registration to use.

A copyright lawyer would then send a cease and desist letter warning that actions under the copyright act can lead to thousands of dollars in damages for infringement.

If the case is strong enough, you might even find a copyright lawyer who might take the case without upfront charge. The lawyer would instead get paid as a percentage of any settlement or court judgment against the publisher (or not get paid if the case is lost). WHile one often pays more for the legal services this way, there is no bill (other than, sometimes, for such expenses as couriers, court filing fees, fedex etc) if the case is not successful. This is called "on-contingency" representation. If interested, it is a good idea to ask when seeking copyright lawyers, so no time or effort is wasted if the lawyer won't take the case that way.

I wish you all the best as you seek resolution in this matter.
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