A guest post from Gail Renard, Chair of the Guild's TV Committee:
Whenever you sell any work, always ask your agent for a photocopy of your contract, then file it or keep it safely under your pillow. It might come in handy one day, especially if you change/ get dumped by/ mislay your agent.
Firstly, (and here's a novel thought) one should always read all one's contracts, no matter how splendid your agent. The more a writer knows about his or her own business, the more confident and empowered he or she will be - and less likely to be cheated by anyone.
Secondly, in this multi-media world, old shows are being re-released willy-nilly through new technologies; often without clearing the rights first - a cute trick which the TV Committee is now investigating.
So when a Portuguese blogger wrote to tell me how much he's enjoying the DVD of my first comedy series, when I didn't even know it had been released on DVD, it gave me a great sense of satisfaction to hand the 25+ year-old contract to my present agent. And would you believe there was no mention of DVD rights? It's all the ammo we needed.
So save your contracts. It not only helps your agent. It's yet another way to protect your work and your rights.