This article belongs to And That's the Way It Is column.

It is so sad to see people with obvious talents being ripped-off by crooks, charlatans, dodgy individuals and companies and other forms of low-life who prey on individual lack of legal knowledge and weaknesses in terms of contracts and so-called marketing practices that often amount to nothing more than theft and, in the more extreme cases, fraud.

I have just recently encountered an Australian case, and no doubt this will be a very familiar story to others, whereby an author wrote a book, a good one actually, was asked to sign a contract, paid large amounts of money to a publisher and virtually got nothing in return, the 'publishing company' for want of a better description in essence taking the author for a $11,000 ride to nowhere.

When I got hold of the details, with a little help from an Australian Government Department and an investigator within that department, we found that the contract was not worth the paper it was written on, that the publisher had mislead the author in terms of book sales, promotion, storage and other, including monitory, provisions that the publisher was supposed to have engaged in and that not even the very basic provision of a fairly basic, albeit suspect contract had not been kept.

When confronted with the facts, this particular publisher became extremely defensive as to hide his dirty deeds.

While this particular publisher will, at this point in time, not be named here as legal processes will be pending as well as the fact that various Australian Government departments are now investigating the conduct of this publisher, he will be 'blacklisted' on the various available websites.

No doubt, to authors, this story will be very familiar and no doubt, many author and other creative people have been ripped-off time and time again.

What next?

In Australia, representation will be made as to mandatory codes of conduct, either through legislation or through reputable representative organisations, of all agents and publishing houses and publishers. Those entities should and likely will be vetted as to their conduct and financial and ethical conduct in relation to authors and other artists and, in my view, any legislative provisions must include 'delisting' provisions.

In short though, those intending to acquire agents and publishing houses to do a job for them, should more than just briefly check the ethics and conduct of such entities in great detail.

And on that note.

My name is Henk Luf.
And That's The Way It Is.