A recent article in The Guardian posed the question: "Morality clauses: are publishers right to police writers?".

The article notes:

One such clause, introduced by HarperCollins in the US, stipulated that the publisher could terminate a contract in cases of “conduct [that] evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals”, or in the case of a “crime or any other act that will tend to bring the Author into serious contempt, and such behaviour would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales”.
  • Should publishers be able to enforce morality contract clauses in an effort to protect their investment(s)?
  • If so, should such clauses be limited to the contract/publication period, excluding past and future behaviour?
  • What might be far-reaching or unintended consequences of morality clauses in publishing contracts?


This is a weighty, multi-faceted issue. In view of that, what are your thoughts on contract morality clauses?