Perpetual License Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-03-02 10:00:00-05:00 No comments

Business Musings: What Traditional Publishing Learned in 2014 | Kristine Kathryn Rusch

... corporations like CBS (and News Corp, which owns HarperCollins and Zondervan) want to exploit from the bottom up. So imagine that a writer writes a lovely book that has pieces which might make a good TV show or a nice addition to the YouTube Channel. If the contract between the writer and publisher are written correctly from the point of view of the parent corporation, then the exploitable content becomes a profit center for the corporation with very little creator expense. In other words, the corporation won’t have to pay six to seven figures to get a TV or film license from the author. The corporation already licensed (or bought!) those rights in the publishing contract, for a fraction of what the writer would normally get. ...

[F}ifteen years ago, books would go out of print, and then the contract would end. Now, books don’t go out of print.

Emphasis mine.

This is, I fear, one of the not-very-widely-documented side effects of a world where nothing ever completely disappears. Because nothing ever goes out of print, and because the main purpose of publishing a book is to have a low-risk loss leader for the sake of creating a potential audience for a property, the author is seen less as a creator and more as a kind of bricklayer or pipefitter. And as for the work itself, well ...

Add to that the looming prospect of the TPP treaty preparing to make it all the harder for things to pass into the public domain, and you have a great formula for a world where the vast majority of people who create anything for an audience under the auspices of a corporate sponsor (who have all the money and all the distribution channels) really are pixel-stained techno-peasants.

Tags: copyright creativity licensing publishing writing