Magazine publishing giant Condé Nast has issued a new contract to its writers that claims a cut of profits received when an author’s article turns into a a TV show or film. An article in yesterday’s New York Times reports the contracts prohibit authors from seeking TV and film option deals for their work, giving Condé Nast exclusive rights that range from 30 days to one year.
“The contracts also show that if Condé Nast decides to option the article, writers receive $2,500 to $5,000 for a 12-month option. If an article is developed into a major feature film, writers receive no more than 1 percent or $150,000 toward the purchase price.” A $150,000 cut sounds like an amazing deal to most writers, but when you consider that “Condé Nast articles led to the movie Argo, which so far has generated $166 million in worldwide box-office sales, Eat Pray Love, which made $204 million in global sales and Brokeback Mountain, which brought in $178 million,” the deal is far less attractive.
The Times quotes one writer as saying: “The people who really get the big options are not going to sign, and the people who don’t get the big options are going to be railroaded… What you are really taking is people’s self-respect.”
Condé Nast’s response? “As we expand into digital, film and television entertainment, we are excited to bring the extraordinary work of our writers and photographers to these platforms, showcase their content in new ways, and create expanded opportunities for their work to be enjoyed by new audiences.”
In other words, if you’re so blessed as to contribute to a Condé Nast publication, read the fine print.