Friday, December 10, 2010

What Are the Best Books on Writers and the Law?

Impulsively, I recently bought seven books about writers and the law -- all aimed at writers, not lawyers:

Author Law A-Z, by Sallie Randolph and others;
The Writer's Guide to Copyright, Contract, and Law, by Helen Shay;
The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbookby Lloyd Jassin and Steven Schechter;
The Writer's Legal Guide, by Tad Crawford and Kay Murray;
Negotiating a Book Contract, by Mark Levine;
Literary Law Guide for Authors, by Tonya Marie Evans and Susan Borden Evans; and
The Writer's Legal Companion, by Brad Bunnin and Peter Beren.

Every writer could benefit from reading at least one book on writing and the law.  (In fact, they ought to make a short course on law for writers a prerequisite for graduating from an MFA program; it would give students a real-world grounding in many practical issues they will be facing as professional writers.)  But no writer really needs more than one or two books on the subject.  I don't yet know which of these seven books qualifies as "best" (from my point of view); but I already know that each has its strengths.  In future posts, I will offer some thoughts on each.

I have long owned a copy of of an eighth book, Kenneth Norwick's highly accessible The Rights of Authors and Artists, published by the American Civil Liberties Union.  I have previously praised Norwick's book and will use it as a baseline for comparison to the other seven.  Virtually the only shortcoming of Norwick's book is that the most recent printing is now 18 years old; the ACLU should commission him to update it.


  1. Oh, awesome post! I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on these books.

  2. I got lot of information from this post.