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RE: Authors Rights

I forwarded the recent exchange beween Mike Spinella and Terry Cullen to
Dan Carlinsky, the spirit behind Contracts Watch, the authors' rights
watch of the American Society of Journalists & Authors.  He had the
following to say in response to Mike. 
     -- Pat McNees, also on  ASJA's contracts committee.

>> 1) any publisher who consistently and deliberately claims to own
material it doesn't in fact own is playing a dangerous game, wouldn't you
think? How widespread could such naughtiness really be without it
resulting in, at least, a widespread public outcry, and, more likely,

        The questions may be rhetorical, but I'll answer anyway: From a
business point of view, not very dangerous at all. And: Very widespread

        Among academic journal publishers, a majority (but not all) do
obtain all rights or very broad licenses from their authors. Among consumer
publications, whose outside contributors are not academics but professional
freelancers, that very frequently isn't so. Some use their market clout to
compel freelance writers to give up their rights, but others don't--they
just act as if they have the rights.

        Do I mean that many publishers claim to own material they don't
own? You bet. The cyberwoods are full of them. And it ain't just e-rights:
Magazine and newspaper publishers often claim photocopy rights they don't
own, signing deals with the Copyright Clearance Center, UMI, UnCover and
the like.

        Public outcry from aggrieved writers? Look around the Web. See,
for example, the varied reports from the American Society of Journalists
and Authors (ASJA) at www.asja.org/cwpage.htm. Ask any knowledgeable

        Litigation? Thanks to a combination of the Copyright Act's
registration requirement and the reality that a team of lawyers from the
New York Times, or the Hearst Corporation, or any other bullying publisher
can, in general, either beat or bleed dry almost any freelance writer,
it's small wonder that writer-versus-publisher lawsuits are few and far

>> 2) many publishers pay royalties for extended use, beyond whatever deal
they make with the original author.

        Magazine and newspaper publishers? Royalties (or fees) to authors
beyond the fee for first use of an article? Precious few do. I don't mean
to bad-mouth all publishers or all users, but I do wish to point out that:

   a) Those users who do overreach, perhaps on a counterbalancing-wrongs
theory, don't hurt only big, bad international media giants; it's often a
real, live writer-person who's being stiffed.
   b) Even when users follow the rules and royalties are paid, there's a
fair chance that writer-person is being stiffed anyway, because the money
train usually goes from vendor to aggregator to publisher ... and then
        We all have work to do.

Dan Carlinsky, Vice President/Contracts
American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)