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RE: "Double" Licenses

I will agree with Mr. Edelson that many scholarly, technical, and medical
journals ask writers to sign over their entire bundle of rights, but if
you look at, for example, _Writer's Market_, you will note that most
magazine and trade publishers will only buy (i.e., pay for) first North
American rights.  In fact, many authors republish articles in regional or
trade journals after first publication in a major journal with national
circulation (national journals obviously pay more and generally only buy
previously unpublished materials).  As far as scholarly, technical, and
medical journals, most do not pay authors at all (either for the original
article or subsequent royalties for reuses), but because most such authors
are seeking the widest possible distribution of their materials rather
than trying to make a living from selling them, they have no reason to
retain rights.  That is, they have no interest in controlling copying, and
no incentive for wanting to deal with permissions seekers.  The only
financial incentive attached to those materials lies with the publisher,
who doesn't have to worry about passing royalties on to the author, so
licensing or selling for subsequent uses is pure profit.  (Well, of course
those publishers will have active permissions offices, because they don't
want anybody to use anything they publish without paying for it.  And it
is not usual for them to sign a contract requiring them to divide
royalties with the author, except in the case of books.)

In my own (limited) personal experience, I have only rarely been asked for
copyright authorization for articles I've had published.  (And when I
have, I have certainly never received any royalties from the publisher!
;-} )

In addition, I have worked with a number of law journals that did not seek
copyright authorization from authors as a matter of course.  It is true,
however, that I cannot provide empirical data on the percentage of of
publishers who get full copyright releases from authors.  In fact, I agree
that publishers of scholarly, technical, and medical journals most likely
hold the full copyright to the articles they publish, although I do not
believe that these journals constitute a major segment of publishing in
the U.S.  Further, there have been a number of recent infringement cases
brought by freelance authors trying to block resale of their articles by
the publishers to commercial databases such as Lexis (see, e.g., Tasini v.  
New York Times, 972 F.Supp. 804), and the facts in these cases make clear
that many major publishers (e.g., New York Times Co.; Newsday, Inc.; Time,
Inc.; The Atlantic Monthly Co.) neither require copyright releases nor
sign contracts with authors for materials they publish.

Terry Cullen
Electronic Services Librarian
Seattle University School of Law Library
950 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, WA  98402-4470
Email:  tcullen@seattleu.edu
Phone:  253-591-7092  FAX:  253-591-6313

On Wednesday, January 27, 1999 12:58 PM, Alan Edelson 
[SMTP:amedelson@topnet.net] wrote:
> I beg to differ with Terry Cullen over one part of his recent comments,
> the part relating to copyright holding by authors versus by publishers.
> I would not go so far as to say that "most" authors transfer only limited
> (e.g., only North American) rights to their materials. That may be true 
> some extent in popular trade fiction or non-fiction, but it is rare in
> scholarly, technical and medical (STM) publishing.
> And even when an author retains copyright, it is most often the case
> (except for best selling trade authors) that the publisher is expected to
> handle the paperwork involved in requests to re-use the author's
> materials, dividing any proceeds from use of rights with the author
> according to their contract. Writing to the publisher of record is also
> far more convenient for those seeking permission for re-use of materials
> than would be the case if one had to track down the author.  If a
> publisher does not hold, say, rights outside North America, it would be
> obliged to inform the interested party as to who does. The Rights and
> Permissions departments of reputable publishers are not in business to be
> dishonest; in my experience their integrity can be relied upon.
> Alan M. Edelson, Ph.D.
> formerly President and CEO
> J.P. Lippincott Company