Publishing law is the branch of law that pertains to published works, such as books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters and electronic media. Many of the largest publishing companies in the country employ legal teams to protect themselves from liability.
The most common route to becoming a lawyer specializing in publishing law is to earn an undergraduate degree in pre-law or English, and then to earn a law degree. An aspiring lawyer concerned with publishing law must learn about all legal aspects of the publishing industry. In order to do so, an aspiring lawyer must attend a 3-year law school to earn a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and choose a concentration in publishing law; there are no master's degree programs offered in this subject. Even at the J.D. level, there are few professional law degree programs that offer entire publishing law concentrations, and most offer only a few courses in the topic.
J.D in Publishing Law
Law degree programs in publishing law at the J.D. level focus primarily on the law regarding the formation of contracts and the specific rules for intellectual property rights and the process of marketing a published work. Some coursework that might be included in a law degree with an emphasis on publishing law covers publishing contracts, acquisitions and copyrights. Students also learn about:
- Business of publishing
- Subsidiary rights
- Marketing strategies
- Production schedules
- Breaches of contract
- Printer and vendor contracts
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
There were about 778,700 lawyers practicing in the United States in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Employment of lawyers in general is expected to grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024, which is about on par with the average growth rate for the next decade. The median annual wage of all salaried lawyers in 2015 was $115,820.
Students in publishing law master's degree programs learn the principles and processes of publishing. They also learn the laws that govern the writer's property and contracts at each step of the process.