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Novel to film rights
August 8, 2013 5:15 AM   Subscribe

How do I find out if the film rights are available to a book/novel? Or, more specifically, if they are not available - how do I find out who owns the rights?

I presume the original publishers will have this answer, though give the age of the book (from the 1940s), perhaps I should approach the author's estate?

And if a film company does have the film rights, will they (the publishers/estate) tell me which company has them?
posted by crossoverman to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you don't know if the estate has a literary agent, then yes, contact the estate directly and yes, they will tell you who holds film rights, if anyone.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:39 AM on August 8, 2013


Is this Book Still Under Copyright?
If not, then you might be free to use it, however the work may be protected in other ways such as trademark.
If so, contacting the estate is the first step to see if the rights are available, or who owns the copyright.
posted by Sophont at 5:44 AM on August 8, 2013


Reach out to the publisher. If the original publisher is still in business and the book is still in print, they'll know. If the book is decades out of print or that publisher no longer exists, then yeah, try the estate.
posted by Sara C. at 7:09 AM on August 8, 2013


If the original publisher is still in business and the book is still in print, they'll know.

How and why would they know that?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:45 PM on August 8, 2013


How and why would they know that?

If it's still in print, they would have to pass on residuals to the agent or copyright holder. (Or so I would I assume.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:22 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


That, and nowadays most of these film rights transactions are handled by the publisher, anyway. A book published 60 years ago which has been out of print for ages is a little more likely not to be packaged that way, but even so, if the publisher is still around, they have an interest in knowing who owns the film rights.

Cross-media IP is big, big business these days. In a lot of ways it's how traditional media like books and movies are staying afloat in the digital age. If you're a large media corp, back catalog IP is money in the bank.
posted by Sara C. at 9:05 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


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