Great Jones Street is — and soon, was — a Web site and app that publishes fiction. On December 24, they announced that they were going out of business, and that they planned to sell their inventory of fiction to an interested buyer.
Writers who have sold work to Great Jones Street should carefully review their contracts, and may need to take action to prevent use of their work in a way that is not covered by the various contracts we have seen from Great Jones Street.
An early contract says that the “License shall be limited to reproduction in the Great Jones Street mobile application and on the Great Jones Street website (www.greatjonesstreet.press.)”
A recent contract has slightly different language, saying the license is “to reproduce without modification the Material in the English language, under the imprint “Great Jones Street” in digital format, on GJS websites, and mobile and desktop applications”.
Both say and that “All rights not expressly granted by the Owner reside exclusively with the Owner. Any rights that may be developed in the future shall reside with the Owner.” Both contracts also purchase a non-exclusive license for ten years, giving the author the right to terminate the license after five years.
Although SFWA’s Contracts Committee can not give legal advice, its reading of both clauses would bar GJS from reselling stories individually or as a group, except as part of a transfer of ownership of the GJS website, mobile, and desktop applications. The new owner could only publish the stories on the GJS website, mobile, and desktop applications. Any other use of the stories by the transferee would be a violation of the author’s rights.
We again urge writers to carefully review their contracts and, if necessary, to contact Great Jones Street directly.
SFWA Contracts Committee
Legal Disclaimer: The contract alert should not be understood to be legal advice. The issues presented by the Great Jones Street contract are complex, and if you are concerned about use of your material, you should consult a competent attorney familiar with the business of publishing as well as the law of the applicable jurisdiction for legal advice.
Update, Jan. 2, 2018: Great Jones Street has said that that they would honor the terms of individual contracts, which vary, and that if any writer wants to pull their stories from the Great Jones Street catalog, they may do so by emailing the publication. GJS’ full comment, however, implied that they might revoke the offer to revert rights at some unstated time. The Contracts Committee will continue to monitor the situation.