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Info on textbook authorship contracts

Textbook authorship effort is deemed part of the academic opportunity and responsibility of faculty members -­ this would be a significant publication one could add to their respective lists of accomplishments. A textbook authorship contract is not one to which the Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System would be party. As a legal contract, the document will often delineate manuscript deadline dates, right to secure copyright, publication rights and license, and manuscript submission details; a contract would be directly between author and publisher.

In regard to guidelines for reportable income on Outside Activities Reports, income from book royalties is NOT reportable. Once a text has been published and royalty payments are received, the recipient will NOT need to disclose this income on his or her Outside Activities Reports.

Options for receiving or allocating royalty income include the following:

  1. Assign all rights to the UW Foundation. If this option is to be considered, one would need to check with the publisher to discern their policy regarding assigning royalties, whether such should be done at time of contract signature or later, prior to text publication. Electing this option would remove this income from the individual’s personal income tax stream; BUT, it may create problems in managing future editions/revisions, or in publishing any portions of the work in other venues if desired.
  2. Accept royalties as agreed to under the publisher’s contract, and in turn donate the royalties to the UW Foundation. An individual’s taxed income may be offset by their deduction for charitable contribution. Individuals can work with the UW Foundation to establish a discretionary account with funds targeted to generally support their UW-Madison department or targeted specifically to a designated area of research; allocation of funds from such an account would need to be approved by an impartial party (CALS Dean-level review) or by a department chair.
  3. An individual may elect to retain royalties as personal income, which is absolutely acceptable.

Individuals seeking further advice should contact Gail Stirr, CALS Research Division, 2-2536 gstirr@cals.wisc.edu OR Russ Howes, legal counsel at UW Foundation, at 3-0371 or russ.howes@uwfoundation.wisc.edu for further advice on establishing a new account specific to this purpose, to donate royalty income to the UW Foundation.

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