...on NPR this morning. Nice twist of helping to create the future by restoring the past. Buy here.
Andrew Wylie tried to do this about a year ago with a list of books by his clients the electronic rights to which (he claimed) were not owned by the original publishers. Pretty good writers, too, like Nabokov, Amis, Bellow, Mailer, Naipaul, Updike....He got clobbered. And should have been, seems to me.The punchline is here:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/25/truce-battle-ebook-rights?intcmp=239A joint statement issued by the publisher and the Wylie Agency said the two parties had "resolved [their] differences", and that the 13 "disputed" Random House titles – which also include Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, VS Naipaul's The Enigma of Arrival and books by John Updike and Orhan Pamuk – were being removed from Odyssey Editions and taken off sale."We have agreed that Random House shall be the exclusive ebook publisher of these titles for those territories in which Random House US controls their rights," said the joint statement. "The titles soon will be available for sale on a non-exclusive basis through all of Random House's current ebook customers. Random House is resuming normal business relations with the Wylie Agency for English-language manuscript submissions and potential acquisitions, and we both are glad to be able to put this matter behind us."
Looks like a power grab by major publishers who have the clout to coherce complience -- and to retroactively claim rights they haven't purchased. You're endorsing this why?
Because Alfred A. Knopf, which spent fifty years building John Updike's career, shouldn't have to compete with Odyssey for sales of his books..... And, as you must know or should at least be curious about, the contractual language in these matters are usually ambiguous. NPR doesn't care, of course.... To portray a fight between Andrew Wylie and Random House as a David/Goliath battle is sentimental at best.
Not convinced. Sounds like the status-quo-defending position of an attorney for a major entertainment company.Oh, wait...
Smile when you say that..
Oh, I am.I'm thinking of having bumper stickers made up: "Naive and Sentimental."
A great idea....Of course, those who have "Coexist" bumper stickers wouldn't need it, but a lot of other people would love it.
I, for one, am reluctant to praise people who seek "end arounds" to take advantage of loopholes in copyright law. Ace books violated the Tolkien estate when it took advantage of a "failed international rights negotiation" between the Tolkien family and their original publisher.Rights agreements should extend to emerging technologies to ensure that the rights remain with the creator. If the creator -- or their heirs -- wish to negotiate a new contract with a new publisher that is up to them, but that isn't what was going on in the Wylie case. If rights don't automatically extend existing agreements into emerging technologies, then how are my own rights extended in them? What is the basis for the extension of rights? When I contract with someone to have exclusive publication rights, and benefit from their strong advocacy of my work, they deserve to have right of first refusal when publication rights expand to include a new medium. I equally have a claim to the residual rights, in new media, that I had under old media. These terms should be negotiable as the media evolve, but the assumption should be inclusive of prior contract and not exclusive of them.The misleading money quote from Open Road was from vice president Brendan Cahill, "[this] means that even as you need to compete digitally, you are burdened by the costs associated with an old way of doing business. "You have to have major warehouses, you have to have a fleet of salespeople, you have to have — if you are a big six publisher — a midtown Manhattan office building that has a lot of overheads that are involved."The implication is that digital publishing is cheaper than physical publishing. For the most part this is hogwash. Yes, there are printing and storage costs, but the majority of the costs of publishing come in promotion, payment of talent, and editor payment.That means you still need "you have to have a fleet of salespeople, you have to have — if you are a big six publisher — a midtown Manhattan office building that has a lot of overheads that are involved" -- even as a purely digital company.That is...unless you base your market strategy on the promotional development and labor of others and provide no real added labor.If you are merely buying the rights to something that has been previously published in other media, but still in demand, then you have lower editing and promotion costs. Others have done the work for you. It becomes even more nefarious if the other company had the expectation to be able to "publish" in the new medium as well.
"If the creator -- or their heirs -- wish to negotiate a new contract with a new publisher that is up to them, but that isn't what was going on in the Wylie case."But is what happened in the James Jones case.
I see that reading the article, but the Jones case is different than the recent Orwell situation where the book was offered as an e-book and then revoked.Just articulating a position.
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