The Grant of Rights Clause

26 May 2016

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

I am revising the Dealbreakers 2013 book. I had hoped to revise it every year, but I get so discouraged looking at the contracts as they exist now. I actually started to revise in the hopes of having the new book in this Storybundle, and then discovered I had so much new material that I didn’t have time to finish the book by mid-May.

Why is there new material? Because traditional publishing contracts have gotten ugly (or should I sayuglier?). And they’re not alone. Contracts for movie deals, gaming rights, comic books, and now works in translation are also getting more and more draconian.

Corporate entities have finally gotten a clue about the value of copyright and trademark. Now, those entities which own many of the companies you’ll deal with—even as an indie writer—want to own each piece of the copyright to any property they put their grubby little fingers on.

. . . .

As I’m revising the old Dealbreakers book, I am finding a lot of material that no longer applies. 2011-2013 was a transitional period in the ebook revolution. Traditional publishers didn’t know anything about ebooks, and writers had a lot more leeway in what they could do.

Now, things are so different that some of the contracts I’m touching feel toxic to me. I want to wash my hands after holding them.

. . . .

Let me show you an example of something you should never ever sign. This is from a real contract, offered to writers this year, which someone sent me a little over a month ago:

Effective immediately upon the execution of this Agreement, the Author hereby grants to the Publisher the following:

1) The sole and exclusive worldwide rights and license to print, publish, distribute, sell and sublicense, and generally exploit the Work, in all languages, whether in print, electronic, digital, audio, video, television, film, theatrical, or any other form or format now known or hereafter discovered or created, in all languages, including any and all editions and formats of the Work, in whole or in part and all revision of the Work and any edition thereof. As used herein, the term “editions” shall include worldwide rights: the term “formats” shall include all print, book club, and all electronic formats including download (whether over the Internet, through an “app” or otherwise), audio, disk, CD, or any other electronic or digital format known or to be invented, enhanced ebooks, mass market, large print, and any future formats/technologies for the duration of the contract term;

The Grant of Rights section goes on, with three more points that I’m not going to deal with here, because that clause all by itself is so squiggy that I shuddered as I typed it. Ugh.

. . . .

Any writer who signs this damn thing can’t even publish an author’s preferred edition with the text dramatically altered. Or compile an omnibus. Or publish half the book in Spanish, a quarter in Italian, and the rest in English. Signing this contract, with this one clause, gives the publisher rights to everything.

The contract goes on in terrible, awful, horrible ways. The noncompete is actually in a section calledAuthor Rights (!) and says that the author cannot “publish or permit to be published during the Term of this agreement any book or other writing based substantially on subject matter, material, characters or incidents in the Work without written consent of the Publisher.” And then there’s another non-compete later, and a third even deeper in the contract.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like what an author has written, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Click to Tweet/Email/Share This Post

The flower has opened

26 May 2016

The flower has opened, has been in the sun and is unafraid. I’m taking more chances; I’m bold and proud.

Paula Cole

Who’s Afraid of Reader Analytics?

26 May 2016

From Digital Book World:

Data has been a feature of book publishing for some time now. About 15 years ago, data became even more prominently used, as publishers could see sales data from competitors through then-new services like Nielsen Bookscan.

The fundamental function of a publisher is to make a decision on what to publish (curation). Like a venture capitalist, a publisher has to select among many competing and worthy prospects to select those that have the highest probability of delivering an economic return. Few books earn back their advances, and a publisher’s success and survival rely on a few outsized winners. This is as true for venture capitalists as it is for book publishers, record label executives, indie filmmakers and Hollywood moguls.

At the same time, a publisher has to spread its risk across a number of books, because nobody can predict which book will succeed. A venture capitalist invests in a portfolio of start-ups to make sure it contains the next “unicorn,” as it’s called, like Uber, AirBnB, Twitter or Facebook. Similarly, a publisher invests across a range of books to make sure it has the next DaVinci Code, Harry Potter, Wool or 50 Shades of Grey in its catalogue.

It is equally true that not every investment gets the same level of attention. Those prospects that perform better get more attention. And this is where metrics matter—what is performing well and has the highest potential and is thus most deserving of further investment. Marking dollars for books and attention by the in-house (or external) publicity team has never been equally distributed, but now love and attention are increasingly based on data that measures engagement and performance rather than gut feeling.

This is where reader analytics comes into play, as it tells publishers which books are resonating and genuinely engaging the audience. Sales data can be misleading, just like unique visitor numbers can create an illusion of success among technology start-ups when what really matters is engagement, user loyalty and the all-important lifetime value per customer.

Moreover, every industry has built-in biases, and publishing is no exception in this regard. Instinct, on the one hand, reflects genuine knowledge of and experience in what works, but instinct is also rooted in non-scientific hunches and biases that may obfuscate cause and effect and mislead us. (This is why diversity has suddenly become such a hot topic in publishing.) Reader analytics has the potential to provide a more meritocratic approach by helping publishers decide what is really engaging readers.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to William for the tip.

The Biblioracle: Is this the ‘Moneyball’ of the publishing world?

26 May 2016

From The Chicago Tribune:

Writing in The New York Times, Alexandra Alter and Karl Russell have alerted me to someone who wants to “be the Billy Beane of the book world.”

You know Beane from the 2003 book and 2011 film adaptation “Moneyball”; he’s the man who applied data science to the construction of the Oakland A’s, turning the land of misfit ballplayers into a nearly championship team.

Beane’s success has had people chasing the promise of data ever since and it is now routine to hear promises of the “Moneyball” for fitness, or education, or nail trimming, or gutter cleaning, or whatever just around the corner.

Andrew Rhomberg of Jellybooks thinks he can bring data science to publishing. He’s pursuing this by giving readers e-books for free and then asking them to opt-in to having the data of the reading sent back to Jellybooks. This allows Jellybooks to know “when people read and for how long, how far they got in the book and how quickly they read, among other details.”

. . . .

Rhomberg thinks this can help publishers decide which books may deserve a larger (or smaller) marketing push. If 75 percent of readers quit the book before page 100, the chances for word-of-mouth success seem low, so perhaps we scale back that budget a bit. A title that 90 percent of the readers rip through in a matter of hours gets an upgrade.

. . . .

But we should be concerned nonetheless because we are seeing religious levels of faith when it comes to believing in the power of data to enhance our lives. I see this most acutely in education, where we have so called “learning-analytics” companies like Knewton declaring that they can produce a “great robot tutor in the sky,” that will help children learn.

Knewton’s claims are absurd and fundamentally anti-human, and when reading-analytics inevitably moves from making marketing decisions, to making editorial decisions, to making creative decisions, we will be too far down a bad road to turn back.

. . . .

Every single book is a niche product.

Sure, some books occupy larger niches than others, but even inside a niche, the reasons readers may respond to a particular book are often idiosyncratic and unknowable, even to the readers themselves.

I often construct rationales for the books I recommend here, but the truth is, they’re after-the-fact explanations. When I choose a book, it’s from the gut.

. . . .

Books have always been that way and always will be this way and we cannot let our anxieties over commerce and money cloud this reality.

I’ve seen firsthand the destruction of metrics and accountability have wrought on education as we’ve subjected a generation to the standardized and standardizable.

Link to the rest at The Chicago Tribune

Noir From a Poet Of Love and Violence

26 May 2016

Not exactly about books, but PG has a weakness for noir. Speaking of which, he may have to conduct another festival of Raymond Chandler quotes soon.

From The Wall Street Journal:

There is no noir more profoundly sad than Nicholas Ray’s “In a Lonely Place” (1950), which unfolds with dark lyricism against a backdrop of violence, cynicism and suspicion. One of Ray’s most indelible stories involving characters who lash out in pointless fury—and one of his most personal films—it incorporates melodrama, echoes of Shakespeare, and heart-stopping performances by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.

François Truffaut called Ray “the poet of nightfall.” Eric Rohmer wrote, “Just as he is the poet of violence, Nicholas Ray is perhaps the only poet of love; it is the fascination peculiar to both feelings that obsesses him, more than the study of their origins and their close or distant repercussions.” And yet, “In a Lonely Place,” now available in a new release on DVD and Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection, continues to grow in stature, distilling as it does the essence of emotion.

Ray’s film is loosely based on Dorothy B. Hughes’s hypnotic 1947 novel about a psychopathic killer in Los Angeles, Dix Steele. Much was changed in the film, but paranoia and misogyny seep into its more tragic story as if from poisoned soil. A washed-up screenwriter who is accused of murder, Bogart’s Dix is prone to violent outbursts suggesting that he, too, could be dangerous to women.

. . . .

Dix invites Mildred (Martha Stewart), a checkroom girl, home with him to synopsize a trashy novel his friend and agent Mel ( Art Smith) has encouraged him to adapt. The next morning she is found strangled.

“Oh, I didn’t say I was a gentleman. I said I was tired,” Dix snaps, when asked by the police why he didn’t call for a taxi for Mildred.

The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)


Judy Blume on why US indie booksellers are thriving

26 May 2016

From the Guardian:

She might be a beloved and bestselling author of classic children’s books from Forever to Blubber, but Judy Blume says she wakes up every day “and I look to the sky, and I say, ‘whoever’s up there, I thank you for not having to write today’.”

Blume doesn’t have to write because, at 78, she has embarked on a new career: she’s an independent bookseller. Together with her husband, George Cooper, she has opened a small, nonprofit bookshop in Key West, Florida, where she’s working almost every day. And she’s loving it. She had planned “to take a gap year” after she finished writing and promoting her last novel, In the Unlikely Event. “I was going to relax and read and have this whole time with no pressure. And then bingo – the chance comes along to open a bookshop, and there you go. I guess I like that in my life … To learn something new like this, at 78, makes it all the more exciting.”

Blume and Cooper had been urging Mitchell Kaplan, founder of independent book chain Books & Books, to open a bookshop in Key West for years. He told them that if they could find a space, he would partner with them.

. . . .

Customers, she says, “sometimes” recognise her – an author who has sold more than 80m books around the world – “and they’re completely taken aback, especially if I’m sitting there dusting the shelves. I’m pretty good at recommendations – I’m good in the kids’ department for sure. I read all the picture books when they come in. And I can lead people to what they want, although I’ve not read as many of our books as some of our volunteers [the store has two paid employees, as well as Cooper, Blume and a series of volunteers]. I’m trying really hard to keep up. It’s like Christmas every day, working here.”

Business for independent bookstores in America in general, is “going well”, Blume believes. “I just think people are so hungry for a real bookstore again. So many people live in places where there isn’t one … It’s not just us doing well. A lot of independent booksellers are.”

. . . .

“Five years ago in the American book business, there was a widespread panic that somehow digital reading was going to replace physical books and they would be a relic of some other time and place. Fast forward to today, and I think digital reading has levelled off and calmed down slightly. It’s going to be a piece of our business, but print books aren’t going away. We’re living in a hybrid world,” says Teicher.

Link to the rest at the Guardian and thanks to Dave for the tip.

The biggest risk

25 May 2016

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

Mark Zuckerberg

Read between the lines of the e-book debate

25 May 2016

From The Globe and Mail:

People in publishing are wielding statistics against each other, in the perennial e-book versus print debate, and nobody seems quite sure of what they all mean. All the publishers I know assert that sales of e-books have plateaued and everyone is investing in print again.

In U.S. and British media, much has been made of the fact that recent stats show e-book sales slipping and print book sales slightly advancing or at the very least holding their own. Sony is no longer selling an e-reader. Amazon is opening physical bookshops. This has led to much gleeful crowing by opinion columnists who grew up reading paper books and are thrilled that the promised bookpocalypse never happened. They are saying, See? People were never going to turn away from the ancient sensual pleasures of paper after all; of course it is more pleasant and natural to hold a non-electronic object. Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, fumed, “Virtual books, like virtual holidays or virtual relationships, are not real. People want a break from another damned screen.”

There is a great deal of ideological bias at work here. Some people just really want e-books to fail. They just don’t like them. Ugly as “virtual books” sounds, it is obviously absurd to say that reading on a screen is “not real.” Nothing about words is real: They are all just words whether on a phone or on a wall and they can be equally powerful.

. . . .

What is not reported in the statistics is all the outsider writing: all the thousands of self-published novels and memoirs and self-help guides that are published, quickly and cheaply, in electronic form. Their success only continues to grow. And sellers such as Amazon are doing their best to provide these works directly to consumers, bypassing publishers altogether.

This is really an astounding truth, and it is more interesting and significant, I think, than questions of physical format. Personally, I don’t feel too emotional about the paper/screen schism: I am happy to read in any form and both are convenient for different reasons. Self-publishing is on a constant rise in both formats.

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail

Harvard Loses Copyright Infringment Case Against Steve Elmo

25 May 2016

From Free Nampeyo:

The first entry in the Free Nampeyo blog discussed Harvard’s copyright infringement claims against Steve Elmore’s book In Search of Nampeyo: The Early Years 1875 – 1892.

. . . .

The subject of Harvard’s complaint was whether color illustrations of designs on old Hopi pottery held in the Keam collection at Harvard’s Peabody Museum violated the copyright to their black and white photographs of this pottery.  Mr. Elmore filed a motion for partial summary judgement against this claim, asking the judge to consider the law and the facts and make a ruling.  Harvard also filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgement concerning a photograph of a Kayenta or Tusayan jar that appeared on its website and also in Mr. Elmore’s book.  Both claims were decided by Judge Robert C. Brack of the United States District Court in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Judge Brack’s ruling “Grants Defendant’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgement (Doc.92); and Denies Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgement that Elmore is liable for Copyright Infringement (Doc. 109). ”

. . . .

Determining whether copyright infringement has occurred can be a complex matter.  The decision depends on two basic factors.  The first is whether the underlying work is copyrightable at all and, if so, which elements of the work are subject to copyright.  The second is whether the work accused of infringing on the protected aspects of the underlying work in fact does infringe.

. . . .

Below is the photograph of the Kayenta or Tusayan jar that was the subject of Harvard’s cross-motion for partial summary judgement.  Judge Brack’s Opinion is that this is not a copyrightable photograph.


Quoting from the Compendium of U. S. Copyright Practices, third edition “as with all copyrighted works, a photograph must have a sufficient amount of creative expression to be eligible for registration”.  A photograph should not be registered “if it is clear the the photographer merely used the camera to copy the source work without adding any creative expression to the photo”.   Judge Brack argues that this photograph is just such a case.  It was not taken as a study in photography or crafted by the photographer with carefully chosen lighting and background, but rather was a “conservation image” taken as part of a “condition assessment” while the jar rested on a surface with a bunch of other stuff visible behind it.

The second part of the Opinion is more complex.  It involves 41 illustrations created from designs visible in the black and white photographs of pottery that were published in the book Historic Hopi Ceramics (HHC). Below is a comparison of two of the black and white photographs and the illustrations created from them.


First Judge Brack determined that, unlike the photograph of the Tusayan or Kayenta jar discussed above that is not copyrightable, the black and white photographs in HHC show “a minimal degree of creativity–if only a humble spark”.  Decisions were made to photograph each ceramic in the same way and to strip the backgrounds from each of the individual photographs “to emphasize the impact of the collection as a whole rather than the intricacies of each individual piece.”  However, just because a photograph is copyrightable does not mean that “every element of the work is protected….the less original the plaintiff’s work, the more the defendant must copy to infringe on the plaintiff’s copyright.”

Importantly. Judge Brack finds that the Native American designs on the pottery and the form of the pottery are not copyrightable elements of Harvard’s photographs: “Here the copyright of Historic Hopi Ceramics does not protect against copying the most prominent features in the works: the intricate pottery designs and forms achieved by a Hopi potter, perhaps Nampeyo.” (emphasis added).

Judge Brack notes that the protection of the HHC photographs is “incredibly limited” and only a verbatim copy would violate a copyright with such a small amount of creative input from the photographer.  He observes that Mr. Elmore’s illustrations highlight the designs, which are non-copyrightable elements, and switch the emphasis from the condition of the pots as a whole collection to these design elements.  The illustrations use line art and are in color.  They clean up and bring out elements of the designs, while eliminating aspects of the pottery itself, such as fire clouds.  Judge Brack writes: “Considering only the  protected elements in the Historic Hopi Ceramics photographs and Mr. Elmore’s images, reasonable minds could not find substantial similarity between the two.”

He also notes that Mr. Elmore picked individual ceramics to use in his illustrations and did his own arrangements of them, in order to emphasize comparison of the designs.  Mr. Elmore’s use of these ceramics to establish a novel thesis would give his work protection under the fair use doctrine.

Link to the rest at Free Nampeyo

PG says most judges see very few copyright infringement cases and sometimes the way such cases are handled feels a little loose. In this matter, however, in PG’s effervescently humble opinion, the judge seems to be doing a good job.

PG hopes that Harvard becomes increasingly humiliated if it continues this bizarre litigation. It was a terrible idea to bring the suit in the first place and, having so thoroughly lost the first round, the Peabody Museum should quit misspending its endowment by trying to interfere with Mr. Elmo’s labor of love in spreading knowledge of a little-known Hopi artist to a wider audience.

Audiobook Sales Jumped Over 20% In 2015, And More Than 35,500 Titles Were Published

25 May 2016

From Voice-Over Extra:

The preference to hear books spoken continues to soar, according to the latest annual sales survey of the Audio Publishers Association (APA), which finds a 20.7% jump in sales over 2014, to an estimated $1.77 billion.

. . . .

Unit sales were up by 24.1% over the previous year, the survey finds. And the APA notes that this marks the second consecutive year in which unit sales increased by more than 20%.

The sales growth corresponds to a jump in number of audiobook titles published in 2015, the survey adds. Last year, 9,630 more titles were published than in 2014,  bringing the total number of audiobook titles published in 2015 to 35,574.

By contrast, in 2011, the number of published audiobook titles was 7,237.

. . . .

“Sales of digital downloads continue to rise – showing an increase of over 34% in both dollars and units sold from the previous year.”

Link to the rest at Voice-Over Extra

« Previous PageNext Page »

WordPress SEO Manager Internet Marketing Tools