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Old 12-15-2009, 11:52 PM   #8
Kali Yuga
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basschick View Post
why shouldn't the authors have rights to sell electronic versions of their titles to other publishers if that isn't specificied in their contracts?
That is the key question; I assume the issue is whether the contract can be read to say "Random House has exclusive rights publish this title no matter what the form," or if it leaves other rights open. Keeping in mind that in classic webforum tradition, IANAL , I don't see how later contracts are at all binding on earlier contracts; you can have an unspecified right that is enforceable in an earlier contract, and make it explicit in other contracts to avoid any confusion between the parties. I.e. I might write a contract to perform services X, Y and Z "and other duties" with one company, and in my a later contract with another company enumerate those duties. That doesn't necessarily mean the first client can refuse to pay me because I performed an unspecified task. (It might but it's not automatic, especially if we get into a dispute.)

I'm surprised this wasn't largely settled when audiobooks gained prevalence. At any rate it doesn't make sense to hold a specific position without reviewing the contracts in question, preferably with an experienced lawyer. Of course, that's not what the Author's Guild is necessarily about -- their job is to vigorously defend the authors. I.e. this is PR rather than a legal analysis.


Quote:
Originally Posted by basschick
rh should have contacted authors with pre-ebook contracts and offered the same royalties for ebooks as for pbooks, and maybe the authors wouldn't have gotten upset.
Well, they pretty much did notify the authors that "we hold the rights." If they hold the rights -- which clearly they believe they do -- then they hold the rights, period, and there is no reason for any sort of renegotiation. If they start out by saying "hey guys, we need to renegotiate this stuff" then they lose before they even start hashing it out, as that position necessarily presumes they don't hold the rights.

If you are a landlord and you have a tenant who isn't paying the rent, you don't need to renegotiate the lease before demanding they pay what they owe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by basschick
the books are all long ago edited, covers are long since done - so why shouldn't those authors have gotten an extra 1% since those things won't need to be paid for?
Royalty rates are extensively negotiated prior to signing the contract. No one involved in this process is just going to give away 1%.

If the author is getting a smaller royalty per sale, it's because the book is selling for less, so the publisher is receiving lower revenues as well from the sale. The royalties the author should get are those determined by the contract and any subsequent negotiations. (AFAIK this should also mean that RH can't pick an arbitrary number as an ebook royalty rate, they'd have to find a justification for a percentage in the contract.)

Plus there are costs involved, especially for older books -- e.g. digitizing and proofreading. If you buy an ebook for $5, don't forget up to half of that may go to the retailer, some goes to the artist, some goes to taxes.
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