By definition, editors edit. Among other things, they correct grammatical and typographical errors. They revise for clarity and precision; to follow the style of the magazine, newspaper or other publication; and to reduce the length to the allotted space. But can an editor or publisher go too far? Can the exercise of editorial discretion expose an editor or publisher to legal liability to a displeased author?

Although editors and publishers certainly have and have traditionally enjoyed the right to make reasonable edits, the bounds of editorial discretion are not limitless. Actions have been brought in response to perceived excesses or other wrongs, invoking a broad range of theories including alleged copyright violation, trademark violation, unfair competition, breach of contract, misrepresentation and even libel. Some plaintiffs have also sought to assert in this context “moral rights” of creators, a concept which historically has been more extensively recognized in countries other than the United States.

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