Ethics – Copyright Clearance Center Rights Licensing Expert Mon, 24 Sep 2018 16:49:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ethics – Copyright Clearance Center 32 32 Publishing’s Gender Pay Gap Thu, 05 Jul 2018 08:00:16 +0000 The digital revolution that gave rise to independent publishing in the last decade has even replicated the traditional segregation and discrimination.

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According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, full-time working women in the United States earned only 80.5 cents for every one dollar earned by men. Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation. Disappointingly for a profession where creativity is without gender, this pay gap exists for book authors, too.

Publishing’s Gender Pay Gap

Indeed, publishing’s gender pay gap is a rather remarkable one, as a scholarly paper recently published in PLOS One has founded. The paper’s researchers examined more than two million book titles published between 2002 and 2012 – and they discovered that book titles by female authors command nearly half (45%) the price of male authors’ books. Women are also underrepresented as authors in many prestigious genres. The digital revolution that gave rise to independent publishing in the last decade has even replicated the traditional segregation and discrimination.

“We find that indie publishing, though more egalitarian, largely replicates traditional publishing’s gender discrimination patterns,” according to the study’s co-author Dana Beth Weinberg.

“We conclude that, with greater freedom, workers in the gig economy may be inclined to greater equality but will largely replicate existing labor market segmentation and the lower valuation of female-typical work and of female workers,” she notes. A professor of Sociology at Queens College-CUNY, Weinberg is an “indie” author, too, having self-published the Russian mafia crime series, Kings of Brighton Beach, under the pseudonym D. B. Shuster.

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Putting an End to the Book Famine for the Blind Mon, 14 May 2018 08:00:48 +0000 253 million people live with vision impairment, yet less than 10% of published works are made into accessible formats.

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Update (May 14, 2018): The Marrakesh Treaty has been ratified by 36 countries. In the United States, the Marrakesh Treaty bill (S. 2559), expanding access to copyrighted works for blind and visually disabled persons, will be taken up by the Senate in mid-May and is considered likely to pass. It garnered bipartisan sponsorship on the Hill, and enjoys broad public support.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 253 million people live with vision impairment: 36 million are blind and another 217 million have moderately to severely reduced vision. In addition, there are millions of people with other kinds of print disability, such as dyslexic people and persons who are paralyzed and cannot manipulate a book or an e-book.

They all suffer from what is known as the “book famine.” In developed countries, notes the World Blind Union, less than 10% of published works are made into accessible formats, while in developing countries the situation is even worse, because only 1% of books are ever made into accessible formats. This situation represents an enormous barrier to information, knowledge and education for blind and partially sighted people, especially students.

Marrakesh Treaty: A roadmap for equality

On July 18, 2016, American musician Stevie Wonder welcomed the entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty with powerful words. “A treaty that promises to end the global book famine… A pact,” he said, “that means that the millions of people in the world who are blind or visually impaired will be able to read books in accessible formats in various regions where they did not previously have access, regardless of their financial means.”

“In an ideal world, all literary works would be available and discoverable to sighted and print disabled readers at the same time and price.” – José Borghino

To address this challenge, the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, was adopted in 2013 under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and entered into force in 2016. The treaty was conceived to foster and ease the production and transfer of accessible books, including across national boundaries. To achieve these goals, it established a set of limitations and exceptions to copyright, mandatory for ratifying countries, for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled. So far, 91 countries have signed the treaty and 33 of them have ratified it.

The practical side of accessible books

But is the Marrakesh Treaty enough in and of itself to solve the problem? Everyone involved seems to agree that it is not. The treaty itself, in its recitals, acknowledges that other mechanisms are needed to fight the book famine. Along with technological solutions, what is crucial to provide equal access to books is to promote accessible publishing, or the design and production of books in accessible formats from their conception.

Promoting the production of “born accessible” publications that can be fully accessed by all readers is one of the missions of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), a private-public partnership created in 2014 that aims to implement the objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty at a practical level. Led by WIPO, the Accessible Books Consortium includes in its board organizations representing globally authors, publishers, libraries, blind people and others.

ABC has published a number of practical tools to advance accessible publishing, including a Books for All starter kit and a set of detailed Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers. They also present an annual award to recognize leadership and achievements in advancing the accessibility of digital publications. In a recent interview, one of the winners of the 2017 award, Huw Alexander, Digital Sales Manager at SAGE Publishing, stated that “inclusive publishing encourages innovation and community. More simply, accessibility makes reading better.”

Connecting blind and the visually impaired readers with books

The Accessible Books Consortium also runs an ambitious Global Book Service: an online catalogue where libraries for the blind and organizations serving people who are print disabled can easily obtain the content they need. Joined so far by 25 libraries for the blind, it currently contains over 360,000 titles in 76 languages, and 165,000 loans have been made to blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled individuals.

“In an ideal world, all literary works would be available and discoverable to sighted and print disabled readers at the same time and price,” according to José Borghino, the Secretary General of the International Publishers Association, an organization that sits on the board of the ABC Consortium. “Thanks to great strides in collaboration among all in the information chain, from author to reader, and thanks to advances in technology, this may become reality sooner than some may imagine.”

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What Is Real Art? The VARA Debate Continues Tue, 13 Feb 2018 08:30:22 +0000 Aerosol art is the center of a court case that's setting a precedent for what qualifies as “real art” protected under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA)

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Note: This piece was originally published on June 23, 2017. It’s been updated to reflect the latest court rulings.

On February 12, Judge Frederic Block ruled that the developer, Jerry Wolkoff, had indeed violated the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and ordered that he pay $6.7 million dollars in damages to the 21 graffiti artists represented in the suit. Mr. Wolkoff may appeal this ruling.

If you ever took the 7 train through Queens before 2014, you probably rode right past 5Pointz. And depending on your artistic leanings, you might have been impressed by the splashes of color and paint, or you might have been upset by the graffiti plastered across a five-story, block-long industrial building. Ah, artistic interpretation!

5Pointz Aerosol Art Center was an outdoor exhibition space in New York City, founded by graffiti veteran Jonathan Cohen. For nearly two decades, it was a graffiti “museum” attracting visitors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, photographers and admirers of all sorts. Brands like Deutsche Bank and Heineken even collaborated with artists for specific advertising campaigns featuring 5Pointz work.

As gentrification swept the city and the housing market demand increased, owner Gerald Wolkoff, who initially gave permission to the artists to paint on his building, whitewashed the graffiti in 2013, upsetting the artists who had curated the mass collection of works. The building was torn down a year later to make way for condominiums.

Should aerosal art be covered under VARA?

While this institution of “aerosol art” no longer exists, it is at the center of a New York court case. The plaintiffs – 23 graffiti artists whose work was displayed at 5Pointz – claim their work deserved special protections under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), and, as such, are seeking damages from Wolkoff and his company, G&M Realty.

Initially, in 2013, the plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the destruction of their murals. After the murals had been painted over, the artists argued they were not given the proper 90-day notice of removal. These motions were ultimately denied. However, when the artists refiled the case in 2015, claiming that VARA was on their side, a judge ruled there was enough evidence to warrant a trial because G&M Realty’s argument discrediting the graffiti as not of “recognizable stature” wasn’t strong enough. The widespread awareness of 5Pointz and the visitors it attracted, coupled with the use of the graffiti in the Heineken and Deutsche Bank advertising campaigns, might have swayed him.

At the center of the current case lie the issues of whether graffiti can be considered visual art of “recognized stature” and whether THIS graffiti is “meritorious” and “recognized” by art experts and the artistic community; if so, then it qualifies for protection under VARA. Depending on whom you ask, the answer varies widely.

The court rulings could have implications moving forward that’d set a precedent for what qualifies as “real art.” Congress debated this precise issue during the passing of VARA but without resolution; if the plaintiffs prove successful in their lawsuit, those who initially opposed VARA will likely again argue that the statute is too far-reaching and broad.


Interested in topics like this? Check out:

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Tracey Armstrong on Women in Publishing: ‘Still Striving for Equal Pay’ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 08:00:25 +0000 CCC's CEO, Tracey Armstrong, discusses diversity and gender equality in publishing and beyond--a hot topic at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair.

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‘Deeply Ingrained’ Attitudes

Women’s struggle to break into C-level positions in corporate settings is hardly exclusive to publishing, says Tracey Armstrong, president and CEO at Copyright Clearance Center.

“But I do think there’s some momentum” in publishing these days, she says. “I see the Publishers Association in the UK coming up with a program on diversity I’ve talked on a panel at London Book Fair about diversity. And I do think ‘diversity’ is further-reaching than gender diversity.

“But we do tend to do a lot of studies and a lot of talking. We contemplate the issue, but we don’t seem to be able to break the barrier. And I don’t think that some of this is unrelated to the US election.

“I think that over all, society is challenged in accepting women in positions of power. And that’s deeply ingrained in who we are, both men and women. I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that men are holding women back. I think that in many ways culture is holding them back. Societal norms are holding them back.”

In an interview with Publishing Perspectives ahead of her appearance on a panel with sister women executives on October 10 at Frankfurt Book Fair in its 2017 The Markets conference, Armstrong explored the all-but-invisible power of assumptions and behavior in our workplace lives today–and the proximity that women executives typically have, or not, to money and power in business.

Armstrong appeared on the panel with:

• Sophie de Closets of Fayard in Paris
• Arpita Das of Yoda Press in New Delhi
• Xandra Ramos-Padilla of Manila’s National Book Store and Anvil Publishing
• Vicky Williams of the UK’s Emerald Group
• Moderator Jane Tappuni of IPR License in the UK

To CEOs: ‘Get Out of the Office’

Armstrong is well aware of what “unconscious bias” might entail in a business setting. “Language, the harsh descriptions and emotional language that we use when we’re critiquing women as opposed to the more intellectual terms we use when we’re critiquing men. It’s so deeply embodied in who we are,” she says. “Writ large, that’s what’s going on.

“Then to go from the macro to micro, we don’t have women in positions of ‘owning revenue’ often enough” in corporate leadership. “I believe that’s very important. We see more women in executive positions in marketing, in human resources, and these are critical positions. But you tend to ascend past a certain point in an organization when you have P&L [profit and loss] ownership and you’re driving revenue or profitability or both. I think that’s an important element.”

In many conversations about women and advancement in the workplace, the topic of mentoring arises. “And I do think that mentoring is important,” Armstrong says. “But I think it’s as important for men to mentor women as it is for women to mentor women emerging in their careers. How those men made achievements in their careers, I think it’s important for them to impart that” to women.

“I think you see much more of women mentoring women,” Armstrong says. “And when we see executives wondering, ‘Why isn’t my organization more diverse?’ we need to ask what are they doing, what are those male CEOs and line owners doing to bring women up? What chances are they taking with women? What pilot programs are they initiating? Not studying the issue and going and interviewing.

“The talent of the future works for you already. You just haven’t met them yet. You’ve got to get out of your office. You’ve got to walk around the halls and meet these people. You’ve got to talk to them.”

Armstrong points to the kinds of discrepancies in workplace behavior that are so common that we tend not to notice them. “For example, in the younger generations, you may see employees leaving work early today,” she says, “both men and women, because family responsibilities are much more shared. But when the man leaves the office, he’s just ‘leaving early.’ The woman?—is explaining. ‘I’ve got to pick my son up.’ The way society has stovepiped and stereotyped that kind of behavior, it’s diminishing her contribution.

“Now, should she not say that? It’s hard for me to say that she shouldn’t say” that she has to leave to pick up a child from school. “But it’s important to recognize the ‘off-label’ effects of saying it, the off-label effects of diminishing our contributions for reminding our employers of our other obligations when, of course, our employers want as much of our mind-share as they can get.

“I think this is a serious challenge, particularly at the most senior levels. When you get past a certain threshold and you’re really trying to move” in your career, “you’re usually in the minority group in the room. If you’re really trying to ascend in your career, you’ve got to get used to being by yourself as the only female at the table.

“I’ve actually counseled women in my own company not to take notes in the meetings. I’m absolutely a nut about this, you can ask my colleagues, about rotating the note-taking. On the executive team? Male, female, dog, cat, bird, whoever you are, you’re going to take notes. And we rotate on a quarterly basis. Because before we did that, you can bet who was taking the notes. It was always the women, regardless of their position or title.”

‘These Waters Run Deep’

The subtlety of such culturally embedded expectations was reflected last Wednesday (September 20) in a report by Kim Parker and Renee Stepler at the Pew Center’s FactTank in which research indicates that, “In about a third of married or cohabiting couples in the United States, women bring in half or more of the earnings, a significant increase from the past.

“But in most couples,” the report reads, “men contribute more of the income, and this aligns with the fact that Americans place a higher value on a man’s role as financial provider.”

The nationally representative survey behind this finding comprised input from 4,971 adults and was conducted in August using Pew Research Center’s American Trends panel.

Armstrong, asked if there’s a time ahead when such biases can be reversed, says, “We’re just trying to keep the lid on them for now, trying to keep it from getting worse.

“I have a 21-year-old daughter,” Armstrong says, “and do I think it will be meaningfully better for her? I don’t think it will be worse. I’m not confident how much better it will be.”

Looking at the political landscape of the autumn, Armstrong says, “In the last 18 months, we’ve learned a lot, certainly in the United States, about how deeply rooted are the biases that we thought we’d progressed on. That definitely includes gender bias.

“I read recently about Hillary Clinton, for example, a question of whether any other politician had ever been asked so many times to apologize. I think that’s an excellent insight. I’m not making a comment as to whether she should have apologized for some of her choices such as the email server” that became a point of distraction and bitter dispute in the 2016 US presidential election.

“The point is, how much are we going to labor over these things, how many minutiae are we going to ask her to apologize for? As opposed to offenses committed by male politicians. We’re not getting apologies from our current president on some of his vulgar language, which we have on videotape.”

Such double standards—expectations of female apologies but not male apologies—show us that “These waters run very deep,” Armstrong says, “so I don’t think we’re going to see marked improvement one generation from me” in her daughter’s time.

“We can certainly think about systemic changes in education. We can certainly think about equal pay” for women and men, “which we’re still striving toward. Think about that.”

And when was the last time you heard male employees being asked how they deal with work-life balance?

“That’s because ‘balance’ is much more a heart-word than a head-word,” Armstrong says. “And we do tend to deal with women much more heart-words, words out of the chest, than words out of the head. In all areas.

“Look at the differences in emails as an example,” she says. “I’ll get an email from a young woman that says, ‘I love that idea.’ And then I’ll get one from a young man who says, ‘I think that idea is great.’”

Sharply attuned to these distinctions, Copyright Clearance Center’s Tracey Armstrong says she’s glad to be participating in the Frankfurt panel at The Markets. And she has no delusions of how entrenched so many biases may be.

“In 2017, we’re having to have a panel on women executives in publishing,” she says. “And we’re still striving for equal pay.”

This post originally appeared in Publishing Perspectives.

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Frankfurt Book Fair 2017: A Look Ahead Thu, 05 Oct 2017 08:00:40 +0000 CCC’s Director of International Relations has a few recommendations for can’t-miss events if you’re going to #FBM17.

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With Frankfurt Book Fair 2017 only a week away, CCC’s Michael Healy, Executive Director of International Relations, has a few recommendations for can’t-miss events that you should mark on your calendar if you’re going to the Fair:

  • Frankfurt Rights MeetingThis has been a “must attend” event for senior rights professionals for 30+ years. The program is always fascinating and the networking excellent. Looking forward especially to the sessions on Japan this year.
  • The MarketsThe Markets is always a great, concentrated opportunity to learn about what’s happening in particular key markets and some lesser-known ones. UK, India and Malaysia feature this year. The panel discussion on women in publishing, featuring CCC’s President and CEO Tracey Armstrong, looks like one not to be missed!
  • Knowledge Engineering: The new business value accelerator in the digital transformation journeyIf you’re a publisher interested in extending the value of your content, this session on knowledge engineering should be essential. Learn how data analysis can drive content discovery for your business with CCC’s CTO Babis Marmanis and Carl Robinson, senior publishing consultant at Ixxus.
  • Towards a copyright manifesto for international publishingCopyright is a hot topic right now and no longer just for lawyers and academics. This session features insights from those on the front line of the copyright wars, including me!
  • Open Access Master Class: University APCs: Publishers and institutional leadership require a solution for the inefficiency of Article Publication Charges (APCs). Join Maurits van der Graaf of Pleiade Management and Consultancy and Laura Cox of Ringgold in conversation with CCC’s Chris Kenneally, Business Development Director to find out what a business-minded application that serves all stakeholders could mean to the bottom line for you, and your partners too.
  • The Arts+: Frankfurt isn’t just about books these days, and The Arts+ is the place to find out what the future of the creative industries looks like. Great sessions on the interplay between tech and creativity are promised.

Exhibitors to visit:

  • IPR License: Hall 4.2, Stand E19
  • Guest of Honor 2017: France: Hall F.1 Stand A1
  • Copyright Clearance Center: Hall 4.2 Stand E18


We’ll see you at the Frankfurt Book Fair, 10-15 October 2017.

Join Us at the Hot Spots, Location: Hall 4.2 N99

Knowledge Engineering: The New Business-Value Accelerator in the Digital Transformation Journey Add to your calendar app: Wednesday, 11 October, 11:00–11:30

Open Access Master Class: University APCs  Add to your calendar app: Thursday, 12 October, 15:00–15:30

Visit Us at Hall 4.2, Stand E18

Book a Meeting with the team

Tweet with Us@copyrightclear#cccfrankfurt#fbm17

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Is Attribution Enough? Thu, 31 Aug 2017 16:05:22 +0000 Common misconception: If I give attribution, then I can use that copyright owner’s photograph, article, chart or graph, and not get into copyright infringement trouble.

The post Is Attribution Enough? appeared first on Copyright Clearance Center.

If you give attribution when using someone else’s copyrighted content at work, can you avoid copyright infringement? Wells Fargo Sr. Company Counsel – IP Carrie Hefte says “no”. Hear Carrie explain what happens when an employee uses online images in a presentation without the photographer’s permission.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Carrie Hefte and I work at WellsFargo. I’ve been here a long time as one of the intellectual property attorneys, and so I’ve heard every crazy idea that an employee might have about copyright law. And here’s one of them: If I give attribution, in other words write down the copyright owner’s name, then I can use that copyright owner’s photograph, article, chart or graph, and not get into copyright infringement trouble. That’s not true, of course, and one of our employees found that out the hard way.

So, one of our employees, years ago, was going to be giving a public-facing seminar. She needed a couple of photographs to put into her PowerPoint presentation, so she went out on the Internet, grabbed two photos, and then put the photographer’s name under those two photos, thinking that would get her out of copyright infringement trouble. That doesn’t get you out of copyright infringement trouble, and, of course, someone in the audience ratted on her. Yes, believe it or not, someone in the audience ratted on her and contacted the photographer and said, “Hey, did you know this woman at WellsFargo is using your photographs?” The photographer didn’t know that, and the next thing I saw was a cease and desist letter. So, we of course negotiated a settlement and paid the photographer.

You may think that copyright owners don’t come after people who are infringing on their copyrights, but that’s very few of those instances go to a lawsuit. They settle, just like the situation I explained. So, you need to keep yourself out of trouble by not thinking that giving the copyright owner attribution will keep you out of copyright infringement trouble. Thank you.

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Can Copyright Undermine Fake News? Fri, 17 Mar 2017 08:00:54 +0000 Platforms seek tech-driven solutions to combat fake news, but copyright enforcement may be the simplest solution.

The post Can Copyright Undermine Fake News? appeared first on Copyright Clearance Center.

There was a time when a news story was either classed as ‘news’ or ‘not news.’ If the story was current and significant, it was news, but if it was too lighthearted or lifestyle focused, it was not. These days, however, there is a third category: fake news.

From Pope Francis’ endorsement of Trump to the Pizzagate conspiracy, which led a gunman to enter a Washington pizzeria, fictional news stories  spread wildly across social media last year.

Top 3 fake political news stories on Facebook in 2016*

  • “Obama signs executive order banning the Pledge of Allegiance in Schools Nationwide” –
    2,177,000 shares, comments and reactions
  • “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for President” – Ending The Feed
    961,000 shares, comments and reactions
  • Trump offering free one-way tickets to Africa & Mexico for those who wanna leave America –
    802,000 shares, comments and reactions

Such was the volume of misinformation in 2016 that trust in news reporting has deteriorated. According to figures from BuzzFeed News, hoaxes about US politics racked up 10.6 million shares, comments and reactions on Facebook last year. And fake news managed to steal the headlines to such an extent that Oxford Dictionaries selected ‘post-truth’ as its word of the year for 2016.

The public once enjoyed high-quality content paid for through advertising, subscriptions, and licensing, and protected by copyright.  Platforms, through intentional and unintentional design, political lobbying, and disregard of rights have undermined that traditional model.  I get the utopian vision of the early internet days.  At the time, there was an ethos that if the old business models were destroyed, we would reach a nirvana of citizen journalists and user generated content.  Platforms developed a new model based on clicks, but revenue models based on clicks are a difficult path for supporting a network of stringers, photographers, and reporters around the world.

As anyone in industry knows, enforcing copyright without the backing of platforms is not only expensive, it’s virtually impossible. Platforms have made combating copyright protection one of their key lobbying priorities, and have funded Astroturf organizations to hide their corporate interests.  Now as platforms seek fancy, tech-driven solutions to identifying and combating fake news — such as the use of artificial intelligence — they continue to avoid the simplest solution.

It should come as no surprise that it seems the only solution not being discussed by platforms is the support of copyright:  the legal regime that has enabled high-quality news for centuries.

Countless individuals across the globe are frustrated by the content they receive from their news and social feeds. They want news that will deepen their understanding of the world, make them feel enlightened and informed, and inspire them to share ideas of importance to them. If platform companies started to help creators defend their rights, and stopped lobbying against copyright, they would both provide users with something useful, and begin fixing the mess they created.


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Ignore Copyright Issues at Your Peril Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:00:51 +0000 Copyright is more than a matter for lawyers or academics. It's the subject of continuing, divisive debate within publishing.

The post Ignore Copyright Issues at Your Peril appeared first on Copyright Clearance Center.

Not only is copyright central to publishing success, but it is also a notoriously tricky subject. Get it right and everyone’s happy; get it wrong and there will be consequences. Copyright is more than just a matter for legal teams or academics. It is the subject of a continuing and divisive debate within the publishing world. Copyright offers the publishing industry an element of protection, and publishers are keen to avert anything that could damage those protections.

So why does copyright remain such an elusive topic across the industry? The answer lies with the idea that copyright risks are not an immediate problem, are too hard to predict, or are something that affects other industries. Admittedly, copyright is just one issue on a long list of challenges for publishers today, but that doesn’t mean the industry can ignore it.

While publishers may not be able to control legal changes to copyright, they can and must stay vigilant and involved.

The risk is that if publishers become too complacent, they will become more vulnerable and less equipped to face an increasingly unpredictable landscape. When one is dealing with issues of copyright, conditions can change in the blink of an eye: a hostile judicial decision could suddenly be published, or unfavorable new legislation could be passed. Unfortunately, even if these changes in the law are challenged later, there can be a sense of too little too late. The damage has been done, and there’s no going back.

Here are three examples from around the world of situations where copyright has worked against publishers and other rightsholders.

#1: Insufficient legislation

When Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act was passed in 2012, the country’s publishing industry (not to mention its cultural heritage) received a serious blow. The root of the problem was that the legislation didn’t sufficiently reflect the traditional “balance” of copyright interests (weighing the rights and needs of BOTH users AND copyright holders and maintaining the balance between them) and gave too short shrift to the interests of copyright holders. As a result, the new law tilted heavily in favor of academic (and maybe other) users by providing greater limitations on copyright and the revenue of Canadian educational publishers and their authors dropped sharply. Among the casualties was Emond Publishing, which ended its high-school publishing program. Its president summed up the situation as follows: “This is what falling off a cliff in the publishing business looks like.”

#2: Potential IP changes

The Australian government asked the Productivity Commission to investigate the country’s IP infrastructure and recommend how to “improve the overall wellbeing of Australian society.” When faced with the prospect of potentially damaging proposals, the publishing community united to mount a high-profile counter campaign.

#3: Licensing revenues stripped from publishers

In a supranational union such as the EU, judicial decisions can have an impact far beyond any one country’s borders. That impact can stretch to all 28 of the EU’s member states, and will almost certainly have some kind of effect in each one of those member states in which the same situation exists as the one before the court.

An example of this came in the case between Hewlett-Packard and Reprobel, a Belgian copyright collective licensing organization. In October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that Reprobel was no longer permitted to split money from levy schemes (which are like involuntary licensing systems imposed by the government) between publishers and authors. The court held that under the language of the continent-wide European copyright directive, publishers cannot be considered rightsholders entitled to any compensation under such schemes.

Of course, the effect of this holding applies not only to Reprobel’s distribution of levy money but also to similar systems that are administered by several other collecting societies within the EU. The decision came as a huge shock to many publishers and their trade associations, upending 40 years of practice, disrupting the basis of collective licensing in many European countries, and potentially damaging publishers’ licensing revenues.

The wider impact of the CJEU ruling was felt in April this year, when the German Federal Supreme Court found VG WORT, a local collecting society, to have acted unlawfully in the distribution of money from the German levy scheme to publishers.

Because only limited opportunity exists within the legal system to change these decisions from these highest courts in their respective jurisdictions, publishers are being forced to look for other ways to restore something of the preexisting status quo. One obvious alternative is to seek from the relevant legislatures changes in existing statutes, but that would involve a huge amount of work. Publishers in some countries are taking the beginning steps in this direction, but there is no single, clear path to a resolution that will please all.

The upshot is that collecting societies affected by these rulings have withheld further payments to publishers and other collecting societies. It has also been suggested that societies will have to recover past payments to publishers. If this were to happen, the financial repercussions could be immense.

Place copyright center stage

Clearly any further changes to copyright law or any new legal rulings can have the kind of major impact on publishers that these two recent court decisions (and the Canadian copyright law changes) have had. While publishers may not be able to control these changes, they can and must stay vigilant and involved. Remaining engaged with what is happening right now – for example, the scheduled government review of the Canadian copyright law changes in 2017 – allows publishers to understand how these changes could affect their businesses and to take steps, both alone and in concert with others, to influence how these changes can be effected (if positive), ameliorated (if negative), or otherwise addressed.

Publishers need to stay up to date with changing copyright trends, just as they would any other market trend. It might be tempting to think “it won’t happen to me”; but if it does and you’re not prepared, you could find it’s too late.

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