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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 01:01 pm:   

I'm posting this question for a friend of mine, who's having trouble getting to this board.

She had a story accepted for a publication in 2001. No publication date was mentioned. At the time, she was naive, and she signed a contract which didn't specify anything about a publication date. The contract also doesn't say that rights revert to her after a specific period of time. She queried by email in mid-2004, and by snail mail in late 2004. She got no response to either query. Ralan.com lists the market under "dead markets".

Is there anything she can do? Is the story gone forever?
I haven't been able to find an answer to this question anywhere.
Thanks!

--Vy
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Kage Baker
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 01:09 pm:   

Uh... she didn't send her only copy of the story, did she?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 01:28 pm:   

If she does have the story she should just resell it.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 01:42 pm:   

Sorry, I wasn't clear. She has the story. She's just worried that there might be a problem elsewhere because of the signed contract with the dead publication.

So it's okay to resell it? Is that because the market is listed as dead, or because so much time has passed, or because they didn't respond to her? Or some combination of those?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 05:11 pm:   

If there is an actual contact address, she might want to write a letter informing them that she is selling her story elsewhere as she has confirmed that the magazine (or whatever) is a dead market.

I don't know legal ramifications. She can certainly inform whoever she submits to the situation and see if they have a problem.
But I really can't see these people coming after her. If they're a dead market it doesn't sound like they'd have resources to sue,even if they have a leg to stand on, which they don't.

This is not a legal opinion. This is a personal opinion.
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Kage Baker
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 06:01 pm:   

Does she have a copy of the contract?
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 06:56 pm:   

I'll ask her if she has a contract. I believe she does.

I understand if people can't give a legal opinion, but personal opinions are still very helpful here. Particularly from people with more knowledge of publishing than I have.

My thought was to tell her to send a certified letter to the market, keeping a copy for herself--with a note such as Ellen described. It sounds like as long as she explains the situation in her cover letter to other markets, she could try to resell it? I was worried that no editor would want to look at it, if there was the slightest doubt about rights.
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Steve Tem
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 06:59 am:   

It's happened to me umpteen times. You send a letter telling them that after a certain date you're submitting elsewhere, unless you hear from them before that date, and outline the reasons they appear to be a dead market (lack of contact, etc.) Send it certified if you're feeling extra cautious, although I've only done that once. Highly, highly unlikely they'll do anything even if they object, and with a contract that vague they may have trouble defending it anyway. My opinion at least. This happens so frequently that if you consulted a lawyer each time you'd go broke.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 08:44 am:   

She says that she has a contract which only states she cannot sell the story elsewhere until this market prints it, and that she'll be paid on publication. As she says--she shouldn't have signed it, but now she knows better.

Thank you all for the advice! I will forward this thread to her later today. I know she appreciates the help (and I was glad to learn some things from this discussion too).

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