Thursday, April 16, 2009

Publishers don't know what rights they have

Mike Shatzkin blogs about a serious issue for big publishers, their inability to remember what they have the rights to publish. (via TeleRead).

I ran into this when I wanted to 'reprint', on my web site, Admiral Dodson's COINage articles 'Counterfeits I Have Known'. COINage graciously gave me permission to reprint the text, but not the pictures. COINage didn't know if it had the right to let me do that! Luckily the photographer, the famous Ken Bresset, allowed me to use his pictures of the fakes. (I did not attempt to contact the Athens Police Department for permission to use the crime scene photos, nor the nephew of Christodoulos who engraved the fakes.)

Last year Google settled with the Author's Guild. The Guild agreed not to sue Google for publishing works as long as Google tries to get money to authors. This sounds great, but it's being challenged by Consumer Watchdog who claims that it isn't fair for Google to be the only company immune from Authors Guild lawsuits. It's not clear to me what Consumer Watchdog wants. Do they want the Authors Guild to offer a program where companies can pay not to be sued by the Guild? Google is still on the hook for lawsuits, but supposedly no one other than the Guild can mount a credible lawsuit.

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