Informal agreement ends in court

A relationship based on trust and informality ended in the High Court. The High Court has ruled on the royalties due under publishing agreements involving a series of illustrated wildlife publications for the Reader’s Digest magazine. The defendant made use of the claimant’s published work, Wildlife in Britain, to package a series for licensed publication and mail order sale by Reader’s Digest. The court first rejected the claimant’s argument that there had been a binding contract before the agreements had been entered into. It then found that the correct construction of the licence between the parties was that the claimant was only entitled to a proportion of the royalties in the strict sense and not entitled to any elements of the fixed payments from the Reader’s Digest to the defendant. It also decided that the defendant could deduct third party copyright owners’ costs from the royalty payments, though the claimant was entitled to see an account of those sums.

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