If you think you understand publishing, then Lois Wasoff has written an essay for you in a new e-book available from Copyright Clearance Center.

In “Publishing as Embodiment of Licensing,” the long-time publishing industry lawyer has reappraised the legal basis of the business in terms of screens not pages. The observation is a timely one today, World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, as marked by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Once upon a time, publishing was all about printing and distributing books and journals. Today, in a world of smartphones and tablets, publishing – as practiced by authors, publishers and booksellers – is all about licensing.


“Historically, written works reached their readers through the sale of physical copies. Licenses were, for that reason, primarily a tool that authors and publishers used to define their relationships with each other. Copyright law, not license terms, defined the rights and privileges of most readers,” Wasoff explains.

“Digital distribution has dramatically changed that paradigm,” she continues. “Licenses now increasingly define the relationships between authors and publishers on the one hand and their customers on the other.”

Wasoff’s essay is one-third of Creating Solutions Together: Lessons to Inform the Future of Collective Licensing. The free publication from CCC looks at a quarter century of development in collective licensing for text publishing. CCC commissioned the volume in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the final appellate decision in the case of American Geophysical Union et al. v. Texaco Inc.

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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