Authors express concern about new Cengage Unlimited subscription service

online booksCengage’s announcement of a new subscription service, Cengage Unlimited, that gives students at U.S. higher education institutions access to all of the company’s digital higher education materials for $119.99 a semester has Cengage authors concerned about how their contracts will be affected.

“I think the authors should find out as soon as possible how we are going to be paid,” said mathematics author Pat McKeague, who did not receive any information from his publisher about the new service prior to its public announcement, and has not been able to reach his editor for more information. “My contracts require my written permission before any electronic version of my book can be published.” [Read more…]

NIH issues statement encouraging authors to publish NIH-funded research papers in reputable journals

predatoryIn a statement released November 3, 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) encouraged authors to publish NIH-funded research papers in reputable journals “to protect the credibility of published research.”

According to the statement: “The NIH has noted an increase in the numbers of papers reported as products of NIH funding which are published in journals or by publishers that do not follow best practices promoted by professional scholarly publishing organizations.” [Read more…]

FTC awarded preliminary injunction against publisher of online academic journals

academic journal stackThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was awarded a preliminary injunction by the U.S. Court of the District of Nevada against defendants OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, and Conference Series LLC, to stop them from engaging in alleged unfair and deceptive practices in the publication of online academic journals and the organization of scientific conferences.

The injunction also requires the defendants to identify assets and account for their current finances, and to preserve financial records. [Read more…]

Education publishers make good on promise to fight counterfeit textbooks

On August 17, 2017, four higher education publishers, Cengage, Elsevier, McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson Education, initiated five lawsuits against 40 alleged sellers of counterfeit textbooks, including two identified sellers: Yaroslav Stolyarchuk and Zichao Wang.

The case against Stolyarchuk was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California alleging the sale of counterfeit textbooks through seven identified online storefronts, including the defendant-operated website, www.booksliquidation.com.

[Read more…]

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.