So we have this new button on our site. © Get Permission. I have to admit that I have a bit of trouble with it. © Get Permission links to a rights buy page on the CCC's site. The Copyright Clearance Center is a non-profit broker of rights for publishers. We tell copyright.com what rights are available for our books and they can handle all the requests for permission to use. Five basic categories—Coursepacks, business or library reprint, e-reserves, Internet general, and reprint in a publication. It’s a cool service for those who need it. It’s a bit controversial because there is some disagreement over what uses are covered by fair use and thus shouldn’t even be offered for sale.
And again with the permissions. Rights can account for as much as 10% of the revenue a publisher brings in, so I understand the need to treat them as a serious revenue generating instrument, but I also watched a couple of email volleys this afternoon about if we can continue to publish a couple of our titles because the permissions issues involved in reprinting them were so complex and expensive. Two very important books may go out of print because the law allows institutions owning work in the public domain to limit access to that work, thus necessitating the purchase from the institution of a license to use their picture of that work.
That bears repeating. We’re letting books go out of print because we can’t afford to re-license pictures of public domain work. We’re not talking about the work, we aren’t obligated to pay a thing for the use of that. We must ask the institution or individual in possession of the work if we can use their picture of it. And the cost of that is skyrocketing.
This is copyright at its absolute worse. A not-for-profit can’t afford to permission reprints for educational use.
When I install a button that propagates this system, I have to worry about it. But I’m also a non-profit business. As a non-profit business, I don’t have to make a profit, but as a business, I do have to make money. I have to cover costs. Could any business in America afford to give up 10% of their revenue? Well, besides the petroleum industry.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press recently posted a page on their site listing the fee structure of their Web use license. Use five words from an AP story and they expect you to pay for it. It’s as if they think their stories are poetry.
Other stories in the news worth noting:
NPR covers the questions the publishing industry is currently grappling with about the price of fuel and the practice of returns.
Marketplace covers Book Expo America with a couple of stories. 1 & 2.