Previous by Date Index by Date
Threaded Index
Next by Date

Previous by Thread Next by Thread

Re: Online and Out of Print

Pete Goldie's interesting contribution to this thread contains the

<If offline rights quickly revert to the author (or public), the
>properties would be free for remounting by anyone... a significant loss
>for the publisher and a recipe for chaos for the reader trying to find
>the re-mounted sources>

Let's just try to separate out a few of the concepts here:

In the print world, most books (I am distinguishing the full-length text
from a journal article, although many of the ideas expressed below apply
to both) stay in print for about 6 months, and the "content rights"
generally revert to the author. The "typographic rights" relating to the
format of the printed work remain with the publisher. Thus, in most cases,
authors are able to make all further arrangments (if any) for exploiting
their content without reference to the publisher. Photocopying licenses
will still pay the publisher something (10-15%) for the use of the
typography, but most of such monies would go to the author. 

So (for full-length texts, certainly) one would expect an analagous
situation to exist online. Since the text could easily be stripped of any
tagging and revert to ASCII, there would be no call for an equivalent for
"typographic copyright" in the electronic world. Yes, someone could mirror
the "out of print" electronic version, but an author would be advised to
disable this possiblity in an electronic license. I don't see this as
being any more of a loss for the publisher or recipe for chaos than
currently exists in the print world. Granted, it may seem a wasted
opportunity, but can we find a pricing structure that allows a work
effectively to stay in print forever, and that takes the work out of its
creator's control forever?

I should stress that the issue is not purely financial. If an electronic
work stays in print forever, it may be argued that it is in the
publisher's control forever. However, it might suit the user to deal
instead directly with an authors' grouping, where rights are likely to be
easier and cheaper to secure. Most multimedia and library digitization
projects seem to be foundering on the inability to secure rights cheaply
(or, indeed, at any price in some cases we are familiar with). We must
find ways to ease the contractual restrictions on digitization. This is
surely an imperative for all involved in the issue - and authors are often
forgotten about as possible facilitating agents in digitization projects -
or wrongly feared as a complication at best, and financial threat at worst

Chris Zielinski, Secretary General
ALCS, Isis House
74 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1EF
Tel: +44 (0)171 255 2034 Fax: +44 (0)171 323 0486
© 1996, 1997 Yale University Library
Please read our Disclaimer
E-mail us with feedback