Sanity Clause? Ain’t No such thing as Sanity Clause

Thanks to T J Pennington for the heads up on this one: Spotted on Diane Duane’s LJ and the Guardian– Random House are inserting a morality clause into their contracts for children’s and YA authors:

If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.

Apparently Random House will remove the clause if asked, which is the old “negative effect” thing which was made illegal in contracts and junk mail here a while back. The old “to take advantage of this offer you need do nothing” sort of malarkey.

I can’t believe that it is a direct reaction to William Mayne, as that was four years ago, they should have done this immediately if so. This – as the Grauniad rightly says – should affect all sort of “authors” such as Madonna, Jordan and even Sarah Ferguson – as I don’t think that being photographed sucking a man’s toes whilst topless is a great role-model for those tender young minds who love Budgie the Helicopter.

What’s next? A police check on all children’s authors in the same way that any person working with children is checked for employment?

And who is the moral arbiter here?  What standard are they using? Who, exactly, gets to say what is suitable? Are gays suitable? Adulterers? What behaviour will get you a bad name? How high is that bar?

It’s a nonsense, a dangerous precedent, a step backwards to the old days of Hollywood where the actors had such morality clauses in their contracts. Didn’t work then, won’t work now. Boo, Random House, boo.

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