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RE: Re. Hathi Orphans?
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- Subject: RE: Re. Hathi Orphans?
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- Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 19:01:34 EDT
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I beg to differ. This is not true of all European publishers. I published a book with Gallimard in paris, and i can tell you that this reversion of rights was not part of the contract. Do not confuse the Anglo-American traditions and customs with the whole of the world... jean-Claude Guedon Le vendredi 14 octobre 2011 21:23 -0400, John Cox a ecrit: > Sandy Thatcher is absolutely right in his description of the > reversion of rights to the author when a book went out-of-print > in the print era. US and European publishers were singing the > same song on this topic. It was, and still is, standard > practice to include a clause in any book contract that > automatically reverts rights to the author if the work had been > out-of-print and unavailable for more than an agreed period (12 > months or two years). Whether the author has assigned copyright > to the publisher, or granted exclusive publishing rights while > retaining copyright, makes no difference; the rights granted > revert to the author. The real problem with orphan works is > that the author may be untraceable, or that his/her successors > in title (if he/she has died) may be difficult or impossible to > trace. > > The basic legal and contractual position has not materially > changed. What has changed is that technology (internet, > e-books, digital print-on-demand technologies) means that books > may remain "in print" and available more or less forever. > However, if the publisher still maintains the title in print, > it is not usually an orphan work with an untraceable > rightsholder. > > The problem lies principally with untraceable authors or their > executors, and with those publishers that have not maintained > full rights files on older works, perhaps through mergers and > acquisitions, or - let's be frank - incompetence. Simply to > generalize and point the gun at "publishers" in general is > misleading and unhelpful. The problem is more complex than that. > Otherwise we would have solved it. > > John Cox > > Managing Director > John Cox Associates Ltd > Rookwood, Bradden > Towcester, Northamptonshire > United Kingdom > E-mail: John.E.Cox@btinternet.com > Web: www.johncoxassociates.com > > > -----Original Message----- > From: email@example.com > [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Sandy Thatcher > Sent: 14 October 2011 00:39 > To: email@example.com > Subject: Re: Re. Hathi Orphans? > > The reality is that, until digitization came along, publishers > generally reverted rights to authors for book that went out of > print and no longer had any interest in their copyright status or > ownership. In that era, publishers had an interest only in > "orphan works" they wanted to reproduce portions of beyond fair > use, and they had no systematic interest in researching the > status of orphan works beyond those whose rights owners they had > a need to track down. One complication during that era is that > some publishers were merged into others, or went out of business, > and the ownership status of works whose copyrights had not been > reassigned to authors before the merger or closure sometimes > ended up being murky. > > The advent of digital printing in for the form of POD, together > with the creation of the "long tail" enabled by Google, changed > everything early in this new millennium. Publishers no longer had > much incentive to revert rights because, technically, no book > ever needed to go "out of print." In fact, some publishers tried > to have reverted rights re-transferred to them again, so that > they could reissue books as e-books and/or in POD editions. Those > works for which the ownership status was murky required research > by publishers to determine if they had the necessary rights to > reprint them via POD or issue them in electronic form (older > contracts not having anticipated such a possibility). This > changed situation gave publishers new incentives to investigate > the status not only of works owned by third parties they wished > to use but works on their own backlists whose ownership status > was unclear. So, for the first time, publishers had a good reason > to do the necessary research more systematically than ever > before. > > Some publishers that own rights to older works but don't want > to invest the money in digitize them are happy to have > libraries or other institutions do this work in exchange for > allowing them to be distributed open access. This is what the > University of California Press started doing a while ago > through the California Digital Library and what such presses as > Duje and Pitt have done more recently. > > Still, it takes sometimes a considerable amount of effort to > determine whether a work is truly an "orphan" and many > understaffed and underfunded presses cannot afford to make this a > high priority. It is, in my opinion, therefore a welcome > development that some well-funded entity like the HathiTrust > should engage in this effort. Only it is imperative that the > research is done thoroughly and well, as the embarrassing > revelations from the Authors Guild have shown HT's process not to > be yet. > > Sandy Thatcher