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Nearly five years ago, I have published my book, and now I requested the publishing company to release the copyright and return it to me. They agreed as an exception, however, they want me to pay them $500 to purchase the remaining stock (9 copies) at a special 50% discount. Is this offer legal? I had a quarrel with them, and I want to take my copyright back without paying any fees. What am I supposed to do?

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    "I had a quarrel with them, and I want to take my copyright back without paying any fees." Well, you can't: It's theirs. You almost certainly signed a contract that says that the copyright is theirs. You can't unilaterally decide that you want it back. Oct 19, 2022 at 19:51

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You would be normally signing a contract when publishing, likely a separate copyright transfer agreement in this case. Now, I am not a lawyer but as far as the contracts go, you can either enter a new agreement with the company (you buy the copies, they waive the copyright, does not seem like a deal that terrible to me), or challenge the initial contract or their adherence to it. Offering you to buy out the remaining stock seems legal from that point of view - they are free to offer you any terms at all because this will be a new contract between parties. As to "are not they breaching the existing contract or some other law", I can not tell - there is nothing about that in the post.

So, whatever caused the quarrel in the first place might not be legal, but offering you these terms probably is.

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  • What if I continue publishing my book in a self-publishing company without taking back the copyright from the prior publisher? Oct 19, 2022 at 9:23
  • In that case you will be the one infringing upon a written contract, it is possible your existing publisher would just give up on pursuing further action but it puts you in a vulnerable position, and defending it may be way more expensive than $500.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 19, 2022 at 9:36
  • In some self-publishing companies, the copyright page is done by the author. Is it possible to mention the prior publisher as the copyright holder on the copyright page and republish my book on this new platform? Oct 19, 2022 at 9:46
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    I'm glad you got it. It is good advice. Your other suggested actions would put you in peril. Copyright has actual value.
    – Buffy
    Oct 19, 2022 at 10:22
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    Thank you, everybody. I could finally convince the publisher to release the copyright without charging me any fees associated with this regard. Oct 19, 2022 at 20:49

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