What Are Film Rights

Glossary > Film Rights

💬 Definition of Film Rights:

Film rights allow a person from the film industry to turn a book into a movie. Those rights are sold by the agent or author of the book.

Related questions about film rights:

Who owns movie rights to a book?

There can be two instances that are stipulated in a contract:

  • The book's author owns the movie rights unless they sell the rights to someone else. They usually have a website where you can find an email address. If the author is from the United States, you can also find them via The Writers Guild of America. If we talk about self-published authors, they own the rights to the book, so you can contact them directly.
  • The publisher owns the movie rights. The contact information for the publisher can be found at the beginning of the books. You can ask them for the contact information for the Rights and Acquisitions Department and obtain the film rights. 

Once you know who the rights owner is, draft an options contract, which you can do with the assistance of a lawyer.

Note: Even if the author owns the book's movie rights, the publisher may still have a say, so make sure you know all the facts.

How much can authors earn from selling their book rights?

The producer can ask for an option, which is an agreement between the author and the producer. This allows them to adapt the book into a film or TV series during a specified length of time. If the movie is not made during this period, the option can get renewed, but the author gets paid once again.

Note: The author gets the money from selling the movie rights even if the producer doesn't get the necessary funding for actually producing the film. 

When it comes to how much authors can earn from this deal, it depends on how much the production company wants the rights to produce the book adaptation.

But generally speaking, the price that a production company will pay an author for their book rights is about 2-3 percent of the production budget.

What if the rights are not available? 

If the film rights are not available, you can't adapt the book for the screen, no matter what. 

What about books from the public domain?

Books become public domain when the author's copyright expires. The books from the public domain enter the fair use situation, meaning you can use those books for movie adaptations without infringing copyright law.

Legal Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Consult a qualified lawyer for all legal opinions for your specific situation.

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