I have an unusual question. My husband wrote a non-fiction niche book which is unlikely to ever have any monetary value and which was self-published in Canada. He is recently deceased. I am not sure how this happened but a small niche publisher in Germany expanded on my husband's book and published it there, copyrighted to their own publishing company.

Yet another of my husband's books (fiction, niche) was published by the same small press, again copyrighted to the publisher. This is without any contract at all. I don't fully know what my husband knew before hand. The publisher and my husband were "friendish." The publisher received a grant from Canada in order to publish these books.

The books are not in English. My husband had asked the publisher for contracts AFTER the fact for the last 2 years and the publisher agreed to this in several emails but never followed through even when my husband stated he wanted to resolve this before he passed. I have all those emails.

I wrote the publisher and he again agreed to contracts and said he didn't want any trouble. He seems to be relying on me to provide contracts and while there are sample contracts available online, none of them address this situation, where it involves books where the author is deceased and the books have already been published.

It is not necessarily a matter of money but while I want to be reasonable, I would like everything spelled out. I have absolutely no idea where to begin.

The publisher is a legitimate publisher, not a vanity press. He is just very niche. He has also published a prominent Canadian writer in translation. That writer has a contract. The publisher claims he has never had a contract with any of his writers except for the prominent Canadian and that due to the Canadian's agent. He is so niche it might be true.

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    You should consult a copyright lawyer, rather than soliciting answers from strangers on the internet. This is already a very complex issue, which will depend on the vagaries of Canadian and German law as well as the exact wording of the emails you have. Presumably, your husband agreed to have the original book published - the outcome will likely turn on whatever the terms of that agreement were (or, if they were never formalized, what a court decides they were).
    – Kevin
    Feb 2 at 8:38
  • International litigation is often complex, but this looks like a fairly clear-cut case of copyright infringement (particularly if no contracts exist). So definitely contact a lawyer: if you are focused on a single country (e.g. Germany) you may wish to try and find a lawyer there you can deal with, but may also find a lawyer in your home country with experience in international cases. It is unlikely you will get much money but you may be able to stop publication. See Law SE for more (general) information.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 2 at 14:58


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