Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law

First Page



In response to the #MeToo movement and the widespread condemnation of public figures for misconduct, book publishers adopted a standard contract provision used in other entertainment industries called a morals clause. Morals clauses allow a publisher to terminate the agreement if the author is subject to public condemnation. Although these provisions provide robust protection for publishers, these one-sided clauses provide no such protection for authors if publishers are subject to similar condemnation. Although authors may not have the leverage to negotiate reciprocal morals clauses, some authors may have an implied reverse morals clause through the frustration of purpose defense to breach of contracts claims. This Note argues that in certain circumstances, authors may be able to use the frustration of purpose defense to effectively terminate their publishing agreements in the event that their publisher is subject to widespread condemnation.