As basic a question as “Who owns the rights to a work?” doesn’t always yield a ready answer.
In publishing, rights are the legal basis for every transaction. Literary agents, for example, negotiate the rights to publishing a work by an author. With multiple media formats and multiple markets acr0ss the globe, rights are the threads in the fabric of publishing.
However fundamental they are, rights do bedevil publishers and authors alike. As basic a question as “Who owns the rights to a work?” doesn’t always yield a ready answer. The questions and the complications mount quickly, creating an environment for many a lost opportunity.
At BookExpo in May, the Book Industry Study Group detailed a study of publishing rights. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the BISG report is that such a widely-recognized problem continues to confound an industry that could use all the help it can get to bring in new revenue and drive growth.
“The survey is intended to serve the needs of publishing executives in operations, finance, and rights management, both to understand the opportunities as well as the challenges that publishers face in trying to make effective, and efficient use of rights,” Brian O’Leary, BISG executive director, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “We want to document the opportunity and to start to build a business case for investment.”