Do I have any options ?

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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Marcus
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Do I have any options ?

Post by Marcus » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:53 pm

Hi just joined,

I tried to find something about this issue in Search but having little idea about it all I wonder if someone could help me with some general advice please ?

A few years ago a successful British author whose books I was and still am a great fan of, also being very popular worldwide, died and because I felt she shouldn't drift into obscurity I voluntarily built soon after a big website that eventually took about a year or so to finish. All the text was mine whilst another fan designed the website. In addition I created a forum for other fans which took about 6 months as well. Both of these sites have now been up and running successfully for over 8 years now, and without doubt have helped keep the author's name and works alive as they're still being sold on the Internet today so there's obviously been some income into her estate.

Obviously I own the copyright to everything barring the design of the website however other than a few encouraging telephone conversations with her son, who is the legal administrator for her estate, for the first 6 months or so I've never heard or received any email from him since which has been very disheartening to say the least as I soon felt I was being used. However I decided to finish it all so at least she now has a permanent public memorial.

It would have been nice to have been thanked at the very least but now it's all finished and I'm retired I want to hand it all over for someone else to run. As I would like to have something to show for it all are there any avenues I could try beforehand please ?

Thanks in advance....

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:45 pm

Hi Marcus,
I'm not quite clear what options you are considering. As you say, you own the copyright in the original elements of your site, and I assume there is no dispute with the web designer over his contribution. And equally there is no dispute with the author's estate over the site. Are you hoping that the author's estate might want to take on the running of the site? Clearly you can't force them to if they don't want the responsiblity.
But if you just want to hand on your work, surely the web-designing fan with whom you collabourated would seem to be the obvious choice for the next proprietor.
Anyway, if and when you decide to hand on your work, you face a choice about what to do over the copyright. You can retain it and merely grant your successor a licence to continue using your work (either a sole licence or an exclusive licence would be appropriate), or you can assign the copyright to the new owner, which means you relinquish to them all the normal rights to make copies, publish etc. However an assignment would not affect your moral right to be credited as the author of the site. Since I assume that the site doesn't make any money per se, it is unlikely you can monetise the transfer of copyright, whichever method you use.
Sorry to not be more helpful.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

Marcus
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Post by Marcus » Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:53 pm

Hi Andy

Thank you for your reply which I did indeed find very helpful. Sorry not to be very clear as I'm not at all familiar with this side of things and how best to explain them, particularly as it's all since become a bit inter-disciplinary and complicated. So as I had no idea who to ask to begin with I felt it best to start with Copyright and try and take things from there.

Firstly there's no copyright problem with the website or forum as it's always been voluntary and free in memory of the author so I'm quite happy to pass it onto other fans to run, the estate not being involved at all. I also understand whilst it'll always be my copyright as well as partially the designer of the website as well, there will be no monetarising aspects from the copyright also I wouldn't want it. It's the subsequent financial perhaps even legal issues that might arise from the voluntary building of the website and who to specifically ask about it that's the question, details which I obviously didn't need to include in my first post.

Whilst the sites are not making any money at the moment, I did come originally from the corporate financial world and as they were interested, I also included within the website a financial business plan (trust fund based) towards long term goals such as perhaps a visitors' cum literary centre and other money making ideas in her memory and on which I spent a great deal of time and effort. Unfortunately however it gradually dawned on me that were far more interested in getting as much free other work that they could whilst paying lip service to the voluntary sides.

What does irritate most of all is they've continued receiving income and free global publicity for the past 8 years from both the website and forum which begs the question where would they be now if I hadn't decided to go ahead ? And why I'm in the mood lately to dismantle everything and forget it all in view of their attitude but obviously it's the very last thing I want to do. And that's where things stand now, uncharitably torn between the two and what on earth to do next ?

Hope you've managed to follow all this !

Thank you again.... :)

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