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Revert digital typeset claims by publisher - Can I E Pub?

Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:12 am
by Ashleigh Morgan
REVERT Titles to me but does not seem Publisher has Reverted when claiming rights to digital typeset as rephrased herein ... ???

Can anyone HELP clarify this for me?

Have requested the Publisher to revert my books back to me.
I was informed only 16 were available to revert. Am I intrepreting this incorrectly ...?? Any views would be helpful...

Letter from Publisher
This is to confirm that Publishers rights in the text of the above-referenced Works have reverted to you purusant to the terms of the Agreements. (5 Contracts noted above allegedly stated as being the Works for 16 Titles)

Any sub-licenses previusly granted, if still in effect, will not be renewed following their expiration. Notwithstanding the reversion of these rights, you will receive payment pursuant to the term of the Agreements for Publisherls use of the Works to date, for those print copies which may be on hand in inventory and subsequently sold, and for any amounts that Publisher may receive under any active sub-licences.
[1. Should I not be informed as to what sub-licenses are in affect, when they expire and how they are using my 16 books? i.e. what formats]

Publisher retains an intellectual property interest in the typeset edition of the Works. Any such reprints of the Works using the digital typeset files [note how it changes to 'digital typeset files] are subject to Publisher's prior written approval, which shall not unreasonably be withheld. Requests should be directed in writing to Contracts Adminstration (see below).

Publisher has the rights to use the trademarks XXX , XXX and other trademarks owned by the Publisher and its affiliates ("the Trademarks"); all art used on the cover or otherwise in association with the sale or distribtion of the Works ('The Art"); and the title page and other preliminary pages. This reversion does not confer upon you the rights to use the Trademarks, the Art or any elements thereof, or the title page or other preliminary pages in association with the Works and you are hereby expressly prohibited from doing so.


a. Have the titles and the Works actually Reverted back to me?
b. Can I E Publish my own books i.e. the Works
c. Should I not be entitled to know who the sub-licensee are, how long they may use the works, and in what format they are using the works?
d. The Art in its descriptive legal wording changes in paragraph to then incorporate the Works?

The Contracts which the Publisher allege DO NOT MATH the original Contracts I have and ...
Of the remaining 4 works - 1 was yet to be E Published (no Digital Rights in initial Contract - did not exist then)
2 were reprints
1 was recently printed in Dutch last Oct 2011

Is it right that I should feel so uncomfortable with this letter about reverting rights to me as it reads to me like a 'Claytons Type' offer to give me back my titles and rights to my copyright rights. I simply want to E Publish the books myself, update some of the info (I am the writer of the works and owner of the copyright)

Sorry for this being so long - the original contracts refer to the laws of England and I am an Australian Author writing under a peseudonym

HELP this Publisher is not helpful and many other writers are stuggling with the same issues

Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:22 am
by AndyJ
Hi Ashleigh,
It would seem that you now have back all rights to re-publish these books yourself, bearing in mind the fact that copyright in the cover illustrations and layout of the title and other preliminary pages is and remains owned by the publisher.
If you actually created the title of each book then it remains your copyright, but if the publishers came up with the wording of the title, then it is unclear from their letter whether they are seeking to claim copyright for that aspect. It seems to be unjustified if they are, since firstly titles of books generally are not considered to be copyrightable on their own, and secondly the title is an essential identifying feature and thus, in my view, forms an integral part of the whole book. Bear in mind that the publisher will use the word title to mean the complete book - a sort of inventory term - whereas you or I might mean the name of the book.
Yes, you can now publish these works as e books. Just make sure that the files you use for this purpose do not specify any particular font, just a point size and generic family, such as serif or non-serif. That way you cannot be accused of replicating the publisher's layout. I don't think there is any contradiction between the references to 'typeset edition' and 'digital typeset files'. UK (and Australian) law gives the publisher the copyright in the way the text is laid out (ie typeset) in their edition, and in today's technology this would be done digitally using a computer-based package rather than manually 'set' in the old letterpress printing days, hence the output will be in form of a digital file containing all pagination details etc as well as the actual text. Since I assume you do not have access to the publisher's digital files so could not use them, none of this affects your rights to re-publish using your own original text files.
I imagine that the contracts you signed contained a clause which permitted the publishers to sub-licence others - possibly publishers in other countries - without necessarily informing you, but I think they are obliged to tell you what if any sublicences still exist and how long they have to run.
The references to the 'Art' (what the layman would probably called artwork) only refers to any cover illustrations and any illustrations within the text (eg photographs or drawings etc) which were not supplied by you as part of the book. The only bits of text you can't re-use (and probably wouldn't wish to) are the publisher's details and logos on the title and following page (where the copyright notice normally appears) plus any blurb or author's biog on the back cover. If the blurb contained any quotations of reviewer's comments, then you should be OK to re-publish these under the fair-dealing rules which exist in both UK and Australian copyright law.
As far as the remaining 4 titles which have not reverted to you are concerned, you probably need to seek clarification from the publisher about when these will revert to you.
On the matter of the differences between your version and the publisher's version of the contracts, you need to see if the differences materially alter your position in the deal. If they do, then you need to sort this out with the publisher. You are only bound by the terms of the contract you actually signed, unless they subsequently gave you satisfactory notification of any amended terms to which you agreed (normally by not indicating your non-acceptance within a specified period of time). However, other than with the contracts for the 4 remaining titles, the most important details to check are what, if any, residual rights the publishers retain following reversion. This especially applies to the sub-licensing provisions already mentioned.
I hope this helps.

Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:09 pm
by Ashleigh Morgan
Hi AndyJ

Thank you for reply to my queries and being able to see beyond the typo errors in my super quick haste to finally get this post up ...