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Doug_Pardee
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Macmillan joins RH in e-book rights grab

Pub Rants, a blog by Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency, reports that some authors are receiving letters from Macmillan asking them to sign over e-book rights for backlist titles. The letters are bypassing the authors' agents and attorneys.

 

Kristin notes that this isn't much of a surprise, given Macmillan's outrage at agent Andrew Wylie's independent e-publication of some major backlist titles from his author stable.

 

For almost a decade, Random House has been trying to insist that for the contracts that didn't say anything about e-book rights, RH automatically was given e-book rights (at the same royalty rate as print books). They've lost at least one high-profile lawsuit in this matter.

 

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swandy
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Re: Macmillan joins RH in e-book rights grab

Sounds just like the fight between the Beatles and EMI when first CDs and now digital downloads were becoming popular. Oh well, here we go again.
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RHWright
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Re: Macmillan joins RH in e-book rights grab

Though I make my living as a writer, I haven't yet snagged a big publishing contract. (I work in the business field to pay the bills while my novels are "in development".)

 

That said, the following is just my opinion.

 

On the level of ethical treatment of people you do business with, publishers should get first shot at negotiating the e-book rights with authors (or their representatives). However, publishers should not be automatically be assuming they have rights they have not purchased. How does that phrase go, "Rights no explicitly granted by the author are reserved for the author"?

 

Now contracts may vary, so the publishers might be arguing that this falls under blanket rights to something vague like "other media".

 

But in general, if we're dealing with old contracts that spell out specific rights, the publishers should be approaching the authors to negotiate the e-book rights, not sign off confirming they already granted them years ago (oftentimes before e-books were invented!).

 

And then they wonder why authors want bigger royalties. It's to pay for the lawyers to argue over all of this. :smileyvery-happy:

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ABthree
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Re: Macmillan joins RH in e-book rights grab

 


RHWright wrote:

 

On the level of ethical treatment of people you do business with, publishers should get first shot at negotiating the e-book rights with authors (or their representatives).


 

 

I agree, provided that the publisher has treated the author ethically through the course of their relationship, including reasonable promotion of the author's work.

 

Many mid-list authors may have concerns and complaints on that score.

+LORD, preserve the good in their goodness, and+
+in your kindness, make the wicked become good.+
-- St. Basil the Great+
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RHWright
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Re: Macmillan joins RH in e-book rights grab

ABthree wrote:


I agree, provided that the publisher has treated the author ethically through the course of their relationship, including reasonable promotion of the author's work.

 

Many mid-list authors may have concerns and complaints on that score.


 

You are totally right. Just because they the publisher has the right to enter negotiations first, doesn't mean an author has to accept. If it's a bad offer, for whatever reason—money, lack of marketing support, or general feelings of mistreatment—the author should clearly have the right to refuse the offer.

 

I just think author's should listen to what a publisher has to offer before taking the book to the open market. When the offer is ludicrous (and I'm sure many would be) then it's time to see out there is ready to do better. Some smart publisher is bound to see that if they do right by an author on these rights, when it comes time for a new book that's not under contract they'll have an advantage in winning that contract away from a publisher whose relationship with the author has been, shall we say, shaken.

 

Ultimately, creator's rights should prevail.

 

Of course, I would say that. :smileywink: