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After spending nine months to create a catalog, I submitted the completed layout to the organization paying for the printing of the book under intense pressure to get done. I curated the exhibitions the catalog accompanies, commissioned all the essays (and wrote one), hired the photographer, coordinated the photo shoots, found a co-editor to assist with copy-editing, and did all the design and layout single-handedly and on-time. At no point did the organization offer significant assistance (the person who was supposed to work with me took 11 weeks of leave while I worked). I submitted the completed book three weeks ago and recently learned that after refusing to collaborate with me or assist in the creation of the book, edits are being made without my knowledge or approval. No one associated with the project that I'm aware of signed away copyright. Do we have any recourse?

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    Probably not appropriate for this website. I would think the answer depends on what kind of contract or other agreement you have with the publisher. Oct 19, 2022 at 21:14
  • If you didn't sign away the copyright, I suspect that few publishers will be willing to actually publish anything. Oct 20, 2022 at 3:15
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    I don't see any connection with academia. Is this organization a university? Oct 20, 2022 at 5:12
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    @TerryLoring Organizing a exhibition and the associated catalogue is an accepted form of publication in some fields of history/archeology. Oct 20, 2022 at 7:32
  • Did the publisher hire an editor? That seems fine--they might have in-house style guides they need to follow. Have you asked them about the next steps after this round of review? Perhaps you will be able to look over the rest for final review?
    – Parrever
    Oct 20, 2022 at 17:32

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If you have copyright then you have rights. If they have copyright then they can make (most) changes as they like as long as they don't plagiarize.

Note that books, as opposed to scholarly papers, normally get filtered through a copy editor before publication. Typically they will ask authors to verify the results, but don't necessarily need to agree when there are objections provided they have copyright.

Copy editors have different levels of skill in the subject of the book. Some are very good. The copy editor probably has a style guide, different from yours, that they are required to adhere to. A book publisher also has some constraints, such as length and such as well as a desire for a consistent look throughout and even consistency with other works.

As a silly example, perhaps you love Oxford Commas and they might hate them. They are likely to prevail.

But if you hold copyright and don't have some other contract, you can withdraw the work if you don't like what is happening. Otherwise you need to work within the limits imposed.

So, first determine who, exactly holds copyright and whether any contracts have been signed. Then, if you can and want to withdraw the work, make sure you understand the consequences and have a plan for what to do afterwards.


Note, for another silly (perhaps) example, that George R. R. Martin probably doesn't prevail in all arguments with movie producers and directors working on Game of Thrones related material.

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