I’ve just read a fabulously informative post by Jane over on Dear Author. As the Supreme Court in 1943 opined that “authors are congenitally irresponsible” and “frequently they are so sorely pressed for funds that they are willing to sell their work for a mere pittance,” Jane notes that
Congress, who is responsible for setting the parameters of the copyright law in the United States, recognizes the economic imbalance between authors and publishers and has tried to include provisions to correct the imbalance. One of those provisions under the current copyright law is the right of termination of a previously granted copyright.
This means that even if your work is still in print, you can get it back. This isn’t an immediate thing, far from it (you have to wait 35 years), but it’s great news for those who felt pressed by circumstance in the past to make a less than advantageous deal.
I imagine this will have particular relevance to authors of LGBT fiction. Please pass the word (and while you’re at it, drop a comment at Dear Author to thank Jane for doing the work: ploughing through the legalese and writing a clear summary).