TAA once again stands up for authors in Google Books case

LegalscaleThinkstockPhotos-178999905More than a decade ago, in 2004, Google initiated a program, in concert with several university and large public libraries, to scan and digitize the entire contents of millions of books without regard to whether they were or were not still under copyright, ultimately making complete digital copies of more than 20 million books. Google’s goal was to expand its search business to include print works as well as online works. It spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this project, suggesting what Google believed to be its commercial potential. [Read more…]

Paul Aiken, former Authors Guild executive, dies at 56

Paul Aiken, a lawyer, and the leader of our sister organization the Authors Guild for nearly 20 years, died on Friday, January 29, 2016, after a struggle with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Over the years, many TAA members may have encountered Paul in a professional capacity. He was a tireless advocate for authors and creators of content. His influence and impact extended well beyond his own organization, and benefited all of us. [Read more…]

Why print is still winning

w-onlinereading0221The debate about digital textbooks (etextbooks) and whether they will replace their physical counterparts continues this week with recent findings from the University of Washington. Their study showed that roughly 25% of students who were given free versions of etextbooks still purchased a physical copy of the same book.

“These are people who aren’t supposed to remember what it’s like to even smell books,” said Naomi S. Baron, an American University linguist who studies digital communication. “It’s quite astounding.”

Another survey done by Student Monitor found that 87% of college students purchased their textbooks as physical books, not etextbooks. Moreover, as mentioned in this Washington Post piece, “Textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer [Read more…]

Appeals court reverses GSU e-reserve fair use ruling

copyrightOn Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta reversed an earlier District Court’s ruling in Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et al, that digital excerpts of books provided to students at Georgia State University (GSU) were protected by fair use.

In its reversal, the Eleventh Circuit panel ruled that the District Court erred in ruling that GSU’s use of portions of 43 copyrighted works was shielded by fair use. It also vacated orders awarding costs and attorneys’ fees to GSU and remanded the case back to the District Court. [Read more…]

Higher education publishers’ aspirations to become software developers

Expanding upon an article in the September-October 2014 issue of TAA’s print newsletter, The Academic Author, Sean Wakely, Founder and Principal Adviser at Academic Author Advisers, posted an article on his blog that covers the topic of higher education publishers’ aspirations to become software developers.

In his post, Wakely examines publishers’ digital solution to declining print sales and used books and whether publishers are ready to meet the challenges posed by the “digital transition”.

In future posts, Wakely plans to cover publishers’ changing product vision and the acquisitions editor’s evolving role.

Supreme Court rules in favor of plaintiff in copyright infringement case

On May 19, the US Supreme Court decided in favor of Paula Petrella in the copyright infringement case Petrella v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., stating that laches “cannot be invoked as a bar to Petrella’s pursuit of a claim for damages brought within…the three-year window.”

(Laches means that a legal right or claim will not be enforced if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has hurt the opposing party as a sort of “legal ambush.”)

“This Supreme Court decision resolves an issue that had been the subject of debate for decades and removes once and for all one of the defenses that had historically been raised to defeat copyright infringement claims,” said Stephen Gillen, an attorney with Wood Herron & Evans LLP. “Authors are now in a slightly better position when it comes to policing the unauthorized use of their copyrighted works.”

Read the court’s full opinion.

Register with the Authors Registry to receive secondary royalty payments from foreign organizations

The Authors Registry is a not-for-profit organization that distributes secondary royalties from foreign organizations to U.S. authors. The Registry was founded in 1995 by a consortium of U.S. authors’ organizations: The Authors Guild, The American Society of Journalists & Authors, the Dramatists Guild, and the Association of Authors’ Representatives. To date, the Authors Registry has distributed over $22.5 million in royalties to over 10,000 authors living in the United States.

“Each year, hundreds of new authors are added to our lists and we attempt to locate and contact them to help them receive these royalties. We have great success rates, but sometimes these royalties go unclaimed,” said Terry King, Operations Manager at the Authors Registry.

The payments come from foreign and domestic organizations that collect secondary royalties for the use of authors’ works. They are collected from organizations such as the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, part of an extended collective licensing system in the U.K., and LIRA, the organization with the authority to collect and disperse fees for public library lending rights in the Netherlands.

To ensure that you receive any of these secondary royalties due to you, register with the Authors Registry by completing their Collection Authorization form here. You can also contact Terry King at 212-563-5904 and staff@authorsregistry.org or visit them on the web at www.authorsregistry.org.

Cengage Learning emerges from bankruptcy

Cengage Learning logoCengage Learning announced April 1 that it has emerged from Chapter 11, having completed its financial restructuring.

“We have used the restructuring process to significantly reduce debt and associated costs, and substantially improve our capital structure,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael Hansen.

The company has eliminated more than $4 billion in funded debt and secured $1.75 billion in exit financing. As part of its financial restructuring, the company said that it has forged new technology partnerships, revamped its product development and delivery model, and realigned its sales and marketing approach to reach faculty and students, putting them first in the development of educational materials. [Read more…]

Textbook authors on Cengage bankruptcy

Cengage_bankruptcy

A few weeks ago, TAA member and Cengage author Jay Devore posted a message on TAA’s Textbook Authoring E-List regarding Cengage’s bankruptcy. His post has solicited many thoughtful responses, a few of which I have included below. Please share your responses to Jay’s question and/or add to the discussion in the Comments section at the end of this post.

To all TAA members who are Cengage authors:

Do we authors have any reason to oppose the recent bankruptcy settlement? I have not sought legal advice on this, but welcome feedback from anyone who has (or hasn’t but is better informed than I am). Note that the recent Cengage mailing gave Feb 14 as the deadline for voting. This is incorrect; evidently there will be a new mailing with a future date as the deadline.

Jay Devore [Read more…]

Apple’s iBooks Textbooks & iTunes U Course Manager now available in over 50 countries

Apple® today announced iBooks® Textbooks and iTunes U® Course Manager are expanding into new markets across Asia, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere around the world. iBooks Textbooks bring Multi-Touch™ textbooks with dynamic, current and interactive content to teachers and students in 51 countries now including Brazil, Italy and Japan. iTunes U Course Manager, available in 70 countries now including Russia, Thailand and Malaysia, allows educators to create and distribute courses for their own classrooms, or share them publicly, on the iTunes U app. [Read more…]