I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on teevee. Nonetheless, I have identified a new condition that I hope will be accepted in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This condition is called “Literary Stockholm Syndrome” (“LSS”).
HISTORY -- As previously reported in several scholarly blogs, in the guise of my alter ego Ken Charles, I entered into two ill-advised contracts with a small electronic publisher called Naughty Nights Press (“NNP”). NNP drafted “Author Agreements” with a clause that it physically was incapable of performing. When certain creative disputes (plural) arose, NNP resorted to ad hominem attacks rather than professional attempts to resolve the disputes. Accordingly, I relied on the publisher’s inability to perform the agreement, inter alia, as grounds to terminate the two agreements. I used the agreement clause that NNP wrote that gave NNP three months to cure any “non-compliance” or the agreement terminated. Despite failing to cure the “non-compliances”, NNP refused to acknowledge that the agreements were terminated. On May 30th, however, NNP sent an email regarding one of the works that stated in part, “you now have control of that work.”
I made several attempts to settle our differences with NNP, with NNP acknowledging that the rights to the two works belonged to me, and both parties going their own way. I even let one of their most prolific authors attempt to mediate. However, when I attempted to self publish the two works on Amazon in August, NNP sent a DMCA take down notice claiming rights to the works.
I filed a lawsuit against NNP. NNP failed to defend the suit. On January 24, the Court entered a default judgment against NNP, awarding me all rights to the two works. The Court found that NNP never secured any rights.
DIAGNOSIS OF “LITERARY STOCKHOLM SYNDROME” -- Affected NNP Authors (hereinafter referred to as “Patients”) present with varying degrees of sympathy and attachments to NNP despite demonstrable failures of NNP to abide by the “Author Agreements” that it drafted. One patient, when expressing complete devotion to NNP, affirmatively stated that she did not want to know the facts. NNP gave her a chance so she was siding with NNP. Period. End of discussion. Another patient believes that an author who actually enforces the author’s rights under a publishing contract will be shunned. A third patient suggested that filing a lawsuit to enforce an author’s rights was unnecessary and wrong because rights will revert at the end of the contract term.
TREATMENT OF “LITERARY STOCKHOLM SYNDROME” -- Basically, patients suffering from LSS should be treated like cult victims with a measured deprogramming. First, they need to understand that a publishing contract creates a business relationship between the author and the publisher. It does not make the author the publisher’s employee. Claims by NNP’s owner to the contrary, the author does not work for NNP. Similarly, the author agreement does not make the parties friends. The author agreement makes the author the publisher’s business partner.
Second, the patient needs to actually read the author agreement that the patient signed. Ideally, the patient should have read the agreement before signing it. Regardless, the patient needs to understand what the agreement obligates the parties to do. Every clause in the agreement has meaning. If the agreement, hypothetically, obligates the publisher to provide templates to the author for the selection of the work’s format, then the publisher must provide such templates, or it will commit a “non-compliance” or breach. If the publisher doesn’t actually have any such templates, then it can hardly complain when it is called to task for failing to provide them.
Third, the patient needs to be placed in white room with a television that has the conclusion of Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan playing on a continuous loop until the patient finally understands that the good of the many oft times outweighs the good of the few or of the one. Even though a publisher like NNP may be the only publisher that would touch the patient’s work, it is the author’s obligation to the writing community to warn other authors of the dealings of predatory publishers. When a publisher will not abide by the agreements it drafts, an author has the obligation to enforce the author’s rights up to and including, if necessary, filing a lawsuit to declare, protect and enforce those rights.
CK Copyright 1/26/13; Moral rights to be identified as the author of the foregoing article asserted worldwide (including in Great Britain in accordance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988) (See prior blog on Moral Rights).