The Authors Guild has put together some information for both authors and agents pertaining to requests from attorneys from the Department of Justice, Penguin Random House, and/or Simon & Schuster’s to produce documents about book deals as part of the DoJ’s antitrust lawsuit against the PRH-S&S merger. Agents and other publishers first began to receive subpoenas in January, as PW previously reported.
Guild outreach provides advice and things to consider for agents and authors whose books have been involved in the subpoenas. According to the Guild, the information sought may include author names, book titles, rights granted, and amounts of advances.
According to an email, the Guild said it has “spoken to many agents, attorneys for the agents, and PRH, and we have some information to share that might be helpful and assuage some of your concerns.”
One of concerns addressed by the Guild is that all information collected by the different parties will be kept confidential. In addition to a protective order issued by the judge to prohibit any release of information, the Guild said the publishers and DOJ are discussing other ways to ensure that sensitive information does not become public, including the possibility of closing the trial to only lawyers and the judge.
The Guild's full list of advice can be found below, and is quoted directly from Guild documents.
Information for Agents
- Do retain an attorney to represent your interests. The attorneys on the list provided by PRH are all excellent litigation attorneys who know the publishing industry well.
- The attorneys will represent YOU—not PRH or S&S. Attorneys are legally required to fully protect the interests of their clients—and only their interests—no matter who pays.
- The AG is happy to review your engagement letters with the attorneys with you. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you do receive a subpoena, you should comply. You are legally required to do so unless your lawyer successfully objects based on overbreadth, vagueness, or such.
- There is a Protective Order already in place in the case that will cover any information about the book deal(s).
- Do NOT fret! Your lawyers will make sure that all of the sensitive information produced by you will be clearly marked as HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL—which is necessary to ensure that it is covered by the Protective Order.
Information for Authors
- There is a Protective Order already in place in the case that will ensure confidentiality regarding any information your agent might provide about you or book deal(s). They will make sure any information obtained in this process about you or your book deals, including what rights you gave and what advance you obtained, and royalties earned, will be designated as HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL per the terms of the Protective Order.
- Only PRH’s and S&S’s outside attorneys, the DOJ, and experts are permitted to see your HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL information. The attorneys representing the case may not share HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL information produced by third parties with the publishers’ in-house attorneys or editors.
- PRH and S&S are in discussions with the DOJ to determine how they can use sensitive information obtained in the litigation without it becoming public. Examples of how this might be done include keeping the courtroom closed during trial to anyone but the lawyers and judge, redacting all publicly filed documents, and/or anonymizing all information.
- Rest assured, all of the agents we have spoken to are treating these requests with the highest level of care to protect their clients.
- We will keep a close watch on the case and work to make sure that all HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL information does in fact remain protected during the entirety of the litigation.
- If you have any questions or have information to share, please send an email to email@example.com.