Thoughts on Publishers and Copyright



Copyright is an ever-changing issue for publishers worldwide. While copyright law is different in every country or jurisdiction, there is a ‘fair use’ law. Fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. But this is a very ambiguous law because of the constant changes that are happening on a daily basis. For instance, it allows a partial piece of work to be copied over for the purpose of private study. It varies from case to case. The digital age has change the concept of authorship and ownership over intellectual properties across the world. There aren’t any quick and easy guides to tackling copyright issues.

With eBooks on the rise, it becomes a grey area. EBooks made up 30% of trade publishing net sales in 2015. That’s an increase from 2014 when eBooks were only 15% of trade net sales. Digital Rights Management (DRM) becomes an important part of the conversation as eBooks grow larger day by day. But the copyright laws have been updated regularly to reflect it. They changes are small in nature but very effective.

In recent years, creators of the content have been pushing to retain the rights to their respective creative works. A number of publishing agreements have been drawn up that allows the author to retain most of the rights while it allows the publishers the right to publish it. It’s quite a quagmire as it creates the issue of backlist titles in the near future. Backlist titles have added to the publishing scion of copyrights in prior generations.

Organizations like the Copyright Clearance Centre (CCC) have actually risen with the rise of eBooks and other forms of digital media. It’s heading towards being a rich data type association that acts as a digital warehouse. Therefore, both creators and publishers can go straight to the CCC to authenticate a license or a piece of copyright material. While there is value in that a single place where anything is available to sort issues, it’s not the only way. A lot of private corporations have gotten in on the same idea of tackling copyright issues and claims. For instance, you could go to the Library of Congress or you could go straight to Google to find the same piece of information. There’s not one particular way of doing things.

Copyright law discussions are actually taking place in the United States as active changes are being made which could impact the rest of the world. Only time will tell what challenges publishers as well as writers will face going forward. As technology changes, so will copyright.