Condé Nast Wants a Cut of Writers' Film, TV Deals (Updated)

Alexander C. Kaufman
The Wrap
Condé Nast Wants a Cut of Writers' Film, TV Deals (Updated)

Condé Nast is claiming rights to its contract writers' articles if they are optioned for a film or television show.

New contracts obtained by the New York Times showed that the magazine giant staked its ownership to articles that attract Hollywood's attention, claiming exclusive rights over a story for 30 days to one year.

Under the new contract, writers would receive $2,500 to $5,000 for a 12-month option. Articles that are developed into feature films would earn the authors less than 1 percent -- or about $150,000 -- of the purchase price.

"As we expand into digital, film and television entertainment," a Condé Nast spokesman said in a statement to TheWrap, "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."

Television shows and made-for-TV movies are capped at even lower amounts.

"It's far outside the traditions of the industry," Paul Aken, executive director of the Authors Guild, told TheWrap. "It's less than 50 percent of a typical deal of what a writer would get when their book or magazine story is made into a movie or a television show."

Condé Nast owns a vast array of top-shelf magazines, including the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired.

Many writers at the publishing heavyweight already work under one-year contracts devoid of basic employee benefits, such as a 401(k) plan or health insurance. However -- as opposed to newspapers, which own rights to reporters' work -- contract magazine writers usually maintain rights to their work.

But Aken said new contracts will hit writers with less name recognition the hardest.

"Big-name authors will negotiate entirely around this and the option clause will be stricken from their contracts," he told TheWrap. "And for authors with less clout, the money would make a substantial difference."

Updated at 9:30 p.m. PT with statements from Condé Nast and the Authors Guild

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