From Publishers Weekly:
Despite complaints from former MacAdam Cage authors that they have not received e-book royalties or regular statements for years, Mark Pearce, publisher of MP Publishing, the publisher and e-book distributor that controls their e-book rights, claims all royalties have been paid and all statements are up to date. Pearce blames the legacy of problems at MacAdam Cage on its late publisher, David Poindexter, although he is urging former MacAdam Cage authors to contact him to resolve disputes over post-bankrutpcy e-book rights to their titles.
At the same time, Jan Constantine, general counsel at the Authors Guild, who has examined the e-book agreement, told PW that the e-book rights agreement negotiated between Poindexter and Pearce in 2009—Pearce purchased the e-book rights to the bulk of the MC list for the life of copyright—is legitimate and survives the MacAdam Cage bankruptcy.
. . . .
Constantine urged former MacAdam Cage authors to immediately demand “back dated and current royalty statements” from Pearce and to “make sure he is in compliance.” The Authors Guild is also circulating copies of the original MC/MP Publishing e-book agreement and amendment to authors and urging them to examine the licensing agreements.
. . . .
Constantine questioned whether the e-book licensing agreement would survive a court challenge. She pointed to the nature of the licensing agreement—the bulk sale of rights, the length of the agreement (life of copyright), the apparent lack of notification or provisions for authors to reclaim rights and the ongoing complaints of nonpayment—and said “if authors banded together for a legal challenge to this agreement, I think a good legal expert could figure out a way to attack it.”
. . . .
Pearce said publishing is a labor of love for him and that “I look for payment over the long term, so the rights I bought were for the length of copyright.”
Pearce said he is “surprised” at author complaints and charges of nonpayment: “our contracts are with the publisher and not the writers. We paid our advance to MacAdam Cage so you deal with the publisher. The money goes to the publisher to distribute to their authors. I now know that MacAdam Cage [wasn't] doing that. It’s unfair to say we haven’t sent out statements and or paid royalties. We contact writers regularly.”
Surprisingly, Pearce also said he didn’t know that MacAdam Cage had filed for bankruptcy.
. . . .
MacAdam Cage authors in contact with PW remain angry and baffled about why they never received royalty statements and payment. Novelist Dayne Sherman has contacted Pearce looking to reclaim all his rights. He said Pearce has offered to pay royalties direct to him dating from the bankruptcy reversion of print rights. Other MC authors, such as Edward Cline, author of the Sparrow Hawk series, were able to get his titles reverted before the 2009 e-book agreement. In some cases reverted titles have been included in the disputed e-book agreement anyway.
Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Glinda for the tip.
PG says this won’t be the last publisher bankruptcy nor the last shotgun merger or acquisition in which the works of authors are bought and sold like sides of beef and end up in the investment portfolios of people who understand nothing about publishing.
Authors who relied upon the promises of MacAdam Cage to pay the royalties that comprise the means of supporting themselves have discovered those promises have not been kept and may not be kept in the future. And the fruits of labors covering ten, twenty, thirty of the best creative years of their lives may be gone forever.
We have one more very concrete reason for authors to refuse life-of-copyright contract terms.
PG is proud to be an attorney, but not proud of the things that some attorneys and the people who hire them do. This story reminds him of part of a Woody Guthrie song:
Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.