Following on from our blog earlier this week there is now lots of fresh noise around rights reversals.
This classic quote from the Bookseller Bulitten of yesterday ‘S&S Uk could follow parent’s rights grab’ ‘UK publishers, meanwhile, are calling for the whole concept of rights reversion to be heavily revised or even scrapped. "Why should it be that way? If you buy a house and you don't go to it, you don't stop owning the house," said one publishing c.e.o.. "It seems to be based on a weird notion of punishment, where you're punished for not trying hard enough." ‘
Its understandable that the publisher wished to remain unknown, with a arrogant quote like that I would too.
Authors create the wealth and content, others merely add value to its development, marketing and distribution to the consumer, who pays and are the only ones who put money in. Authors will use publishers to get exposure and maximise their revenues and opportunities but once a book is past its attention span they should be able to reclaim their rig, is wrong. It does not maximise the opportunities for the two people that actually count – the author and the consumer. The author gets lost in history and although they may be found via a search engine their creation is out of their control. The book may have been a huge success in its day but the publisher has no intent to promote it again to a new audience. The consumer also can’t enjoy it as they will never find it. The marketing theory that new is good and deserves money and attention and old isn’t is strange at a time when the classics are been rejacketed and produced by everyone standing.
The real threat is that the technology is providing the opportunity for authors to do more themselves. They can promote themselves and sell they content direct through pod models. Maybe the publishers are merely trying to get the cat back in their bag?
We already have the Ophan works Act in the US, or to the cynic, the licence to hoover or google old works or scan first ask later. We all know how hard it can be to establish copyright ownership after time once works go out of print. Given all this, why can't a sensible and fair solution be found and the rectric become positive and less adverseral.