I’m not going to quote what has been laid out in the contracts, but I am going to link to them. You can read about them HERE, HERE, and HERE. These particular contracts from these Random House lines (ie HYDRA, ALIBI, etc.) are equivalent to what the record companies did to many of the old rock and blues artists from the forties and fifties. They took the rights to all their songs and left the artists (and their families/kids) penniless.
Now it’s easy to think, ‘Oh they were just stupid artists/musicians’. To a certain degree that’s true, but most people back in the day couldn’t afford attorney fees. Heck, these days most people can’t afford the cost of an attorney. Six years ago, you could’ve read a publishing contract and caught ‘most’ of the bad clauses without needing a law degree. I say most because there were always a few bad clauses that were worded oddly and snuck through. These days you need to be a VERY GOOD intellectual property attorney to see all the ‘hidden’ clauses in a publishing contract. And I say ‘very good’ because an average intellectual property attorney or an attorney who practices another type of law WILL miss some of these clauses. They are that convoluted and that dangerous to any writer’s future
That does not mean that ALL Random House lines are following suit. They are not. There are still good lines to write for within Random House and several of the other publishers. I’m not picking on Random House. This is simply a warning.
The saddest part about these contracts is that they play on people’s dreams. This is particularly true for NEW AUTHORS, who don’t have firsthand experience in the industry. It was the same way in the forties and fifties with the music industry. When you’re trying to be heard and someone offers you a chance to be, it’s hard to turn and walk away, but sometimes that is the very best thing you can do for yourself and for your family. Unlike in the forties and fifties, there are many other ways you can be ‘heard’ these days. Keep that in mind, so you don’t become another sad statistic.