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Purchasing Notes/Preliminary Content and Publishing


There was a website run by an acquaintence of mine which focused on Worldbuilding and went into a lot of detail into some of the things behind how a world is designed.

I did some collaboration with the creator of the website, but for one reason or another my acquaintence closed down the website after only a few "chapters" worth of content.

I'm considering making an offer for his notes and for the content that he had already published. I'd edit it a bit here and there and then carry on with the rest of the notes. I want to turn around and publish it.

Has anyone had any experience with doing something like this? Any advice or things to watch out for?

No experience I'm afraid. I suspect few here have. But I have a couple of thoughts.

First the information was published in whatever form, so therefore it has copyright attached to it. And second to simply copy it and put it out under your own name would be plagerism. Those are the two issues I think your agreement with your acquaintance needs to cover.

On top of that any agreement should probably be in writing, and if you and s/he are in any way confused by what you're agreeing to you should have a lawyer run his eye over it. And to add, I'm not a lawyer, so I may well have overlooked some important legal issues.

Cheers, Greg.


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
People are weird. He might be offended by your offer. He might be flattered by your offer, and then offended if you want papers drawn up. He might be flattered by the offer but offended you want to pay him. He might be offended by the amount you want to offer. He might be flattered, but then offended later on. He might have conditions, like salvaging the entirety of the old website, or he might want to be involved directly. He might be cool with everything. People are weird.

You have to realize that you're the one instigating the agreement, so this is a relationship that will be on you to manage. The last thing you want on a startup project is a dose of bad blood.

A few things should help:
- Establish that you're a fan.
- Pitch it as a favor he's doing for you.
- Give him the chance to be involved if he wants to.

From a legal perspective, I don't think you need papers drawn up. It should be enough just to capture the conversation in email, if the language you use is clear and specific. Even a verbal agreement is binding by law, if you can prove that it happened. That can help you keep it casual. Have the conversation, even if it's in person, and tell him, "I'll send you a quick email to confirm everything tonight." Then send him: "Just to be clear: You are transferring full copyright ownership to me in exchange for $x." "Yes." Then write him a check so you have proof of payment.

I like everything Devor has said save the don't write it down. My advice is do get it written up in some form. Handshakes are binding but it's not just about proving that the handshake happened. It's about what each party thought they were agreeing to when they shook hands.

However it doesn't have to be a legal contract. I just used a photo of a person taken from a wiki commons site. I checked the licence conditions and found them acceptible, but also that there was a problem. The photo was of a person, which meant I had a model release issue. Since the model is also the photographer who posted the issue (i.e. it was a selfie) my solution to this was to contact the person on face book and ask for permission to use the image for a book cover. She agreed and since it was all written down on facebook I kept a screenshot of our conversation. Natch if she changes her mind at some point I will redo the cover, but the point of grabbing the screenshot was so that at no point could I ever be accused of going against her wishes.

Cheers, Greg.