Story rights

What do story rights entail? 

Story rights are the legal rights to use a particular story. This is usually in the context of books, plays, movies, TV shows, and other creative projects. The owner of story rights has control over how the story is used, adapted, and distributed. These are a valuable asset in the entertainment industry. Story rights include the right to create derivative works and adapt the story, and can be bought, sold, and licensed. 

Who owns story rights? 

The author of a story usually has a copyright to the story which gives them the exclusive right to use and control it, but ownership depends on the story and its context. Rights may be transferred to a publisher or another entity in a contract or license agreement. Sometimes multiple parties own the rights to a story. This occurs through joint authorship or because the rights have been split through negotiation and legal processes. 

Can someone have story rights on their own life story? 

“Life story rights” refer to the rights that a person has over their own life story. A life story is broadly just facts about a person and there is no specific legal protection over a life story. Life story rights essentially include claims a person could make if they are depicted in a manner they dislike including misappropriation, defamation, and invasion of privacy. Therefore, it is beneficial to have some agreement in place to avoid conflict.

How do I obtain story rights? 

A potential buyer will usually negotiate with the author, publisher or entity that has the copyright to the work. The buyer will pay a fee or enter into a licensing agreement that outlines the terms of use for the story. The process is specific to the story and parties involved and it is sometimes necessary to hire a lawyer for negotiations. 

What is typically included in a story rights agreement? 

Story rights agreements are legal contracts describing the terms and conditions for the story’s use. The agreement will identify the parties and describe the story and any other materials included in the agreement. The agreement will specify which rights are granted to the party using the story. This can be the right to distribute a movie, TV show, or some other adaptation. The terms of the agreement will state the length of time that the user has the story rights and under what conditions they can renew or terminate the agreement. The parties will agree on how much the owner will be compensated, which will include upfront payment and royalties. Usually there will be a provision for dispute resolution as well. 

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Silvino Diaz

Silvino E. Diaz’s practice ranges from Civil and Commercial Litigation to Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. Silvino has earned a reputation as one of Puerto Rico’s foremost advocates for independent musicians and artists. As a result of his sustained commitment to creative industries, he was named Professor of Intellectual Property Law at Atlantic University College (Guaynabo, PR) – the Caribbean’s leading digital arts institution – where he spearheaded the “Introduction to IP” course for both the graduate and undergraduate programs, and was appointed by the Office of the President to develop an Intellectual Property graduate curriculum, where he served until moving to Miami in 2017. He is the founder of the service known as Starving Artists, where he offers innovative business and legal counsel for artists and creatives.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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