Copyright: Why a memorialized record of good faith matters

copyright collage artThere are few absolutes or bright lines when it comes to copyright matters. So much is left to the judgment of the court or jury in a copyright infringement case, the boundaries so amorphous, the tests so subjective, that ensuring that you are more sympathetic than the plaintiff can go a long way toward moving the case one way or another.

The threshold question of the copyrightability of plaintiff’s work, the credibility assigned to any given copyright registration, the application of the four-factor test for fair use, the [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…]

When getting rights clearance is tough

copyright collage artWe’ve all been there. You have the perfect photo . . . verse . . . song lyrics . . . vignette . . . you name it . . . to open your book or a chapter within it. Having labored long and hard to locate just the thing, you are now certain that nothing else will do. There’s only one problem. It’s not yours and either you can’t determine who owns the rights, or you can’t figure out how to reach them, or they’re dead or out of business, or they won’t answer you. [Read more…]

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.

PODCAST: The 10 Worst Legal Mistakes a Textbook or Academic Author Can Make

Zick Rubin

Publishing lawyer Zick Rubin provides a countdown of the 10 worst legal mistakes that a textbook or academic author can make. Learn the legal traps that can be found in a range of areas, including provisions in publishing contracts, collaboration agreements, and copyright and permission issues.

[Read more…]

Self-publishing workshop offered at TAA’s 27th annual authoring conference

2014 TAA Conference logoTAA’s 2014 Conference on Textbook & Academic Writing in Baltimore, MD, June 20-21, will include a new track on “Self-Publishing”. The track will feature a workshop designed for both novice and veteran authors who want to experience a hands-on approach to marketing their book to readers and buyers. Attendees will learn how to raise money to get a book printed and marketed, what to look for in hiring an editor, and how to find a publisher for a manuscript. [Read more…]

Listen to podcasts on writing, editing, contracts, time management & more

Podcast LibraryTAA members have access to a library of 60-90 minute podcasts on topics such as writing, editing, contracts, royalties, taxes, copyright, time management and more, presented by a variety of industry experts. This resource is free for members. Join TAA today for as little as $15.

Topics include:

Textbook Writing | Textbook Publishing | Contracts & Royalties | Taxes | Copyright | Marketing | Supplements | Indexing | Ebooks & Open Access | Textbook Proposals | Academic Writing | Academic Publishing | Academic Editing | Academic Books | Grant Writing | Time Management | Social Media for Academics | Tenure & Promotion [Read more…]

Whose book title is it, anyway?

Zick Rubin

Zick Rubin

Professor Charlotte Smith, an up-and-coming young entomologist, decided to write a textbook for the always-popular, upper-level course on spiders.  After putting out a few feelers, she submitted a proposal to Six Legs Press, a leading publisher of  books about insects.  Six Legs loved the proposal and offered Professor Smith a contract. Charlotte was so abuzz with excitement—”tenure, here I come!” she yelled—that she signed the contract without even reading it.

[Read more…]

Authors groups lose fight against Google Book Search

New York Federal Judge Denny Chin ruled November 14 that Google’s Book Search project meets the definition of fair use under copyright law, dismissing a class-action lawsuit brought by The Authors Guild and other groups that began in 2005. Chin said that Google’s use of book snippets as a way to facilitate books searches is “transformative”, and that in his view, provides “significant public benefits”, especially to readers, scholars and researchers.

In February 2013, TAA filed an amicus brief in the Google Books case, joining six other writers’ associations in support of a class action certification. In its brief, TAA vigorously disagreed with the contention that Google’s scanning of copyrighted works without the consent of the copyright holders was a fair use: “A decision allowing Google to proceed with impunity undermines the economics of scholarly publishing in a way that imperils the future publication of the most sophisticated works, those that are at the cutting edge of science and literature, but that also enjoy the narrowest markets and thus survive on the thin edge of financial viability.”

The Authors Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken said that they “disagree with and are disappointed by” the court’s decision, and plan to appeal.