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Judy L

Publishing rights

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I have a new client, a non-profit. They have had at least two books on historical matters published. In 1990s agreements, the non-profit holds copyright, but the publishing company has publishing rights.


When the non-profit contacted the publisher recently, the publisher said they would have to take the books apart and re-photograph pages in order to be able to print. The publisher set a very high minimal number for the printing.


The non-profit wants to re-format their books and have them available on DVD or as an eBook instead of a printed book. They would be able to sell the books and prints of their documents and photos of their artifact collection. They are wondering what happens with publisher's rights. They are an elderly, suspicious, not-right in your face group of people who want to learn their position via the back door. If it were me, I would get an attorney to become a friend of the non-profit and interpret the agreement. Or read the agreement myself. And, present the publisher with a petition to release their rights.


The publisher didn't approach this matter of rights, but doesn't appear to have made arrangements to keep printing indefinitely. Do publishing rights have limits? That seems like a stupid question when asked without a copy of their agreement, but it is what they want to know.

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Guest Ink Think

Judy -


This article may help clarify the rights assignment issue, but you, or someone else, are going to need to review the publishing contract to see which rights were assigned. If electronic rights weren't assigned to the publisher you should be okay, but the client still ought to verify with an intellectual property attorney. Attorneys are still cheaper than lawsuits...




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Guest Chai

the publishing world differentiates between publishing rights and electronic rights. If the Non-profit is looking to republish in ebook format, then that book will have to be assigned a different ISBN number. The most recent ruling on ISBN numbers states that each format of publication needs a seperate ISBN number, so if a book is published in print, ebook, and audio, it wil require three different numbers.


Hopefully someone at the non-profit still has the digital format of the book, otherwise someone is going to have to transcribe the whole document into a digital format.



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