This week brought with it the close of our Textbook Awards program nomination period and the start of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo). It also brought with it articles focused on creative process, tips to improve writing, and cautionary tales for textbook and academic authors alike. Articles include innovative textbook development using augmented reality and creative learning activities, secrets and tips for improving your writing, how to manage commitments, and topics of potential concern related to copyright, predatory journals, and peer review. As you begin this month of academic writing, keep in mind the words of Lailah Gifty Akita, “Wondering leads to writing”, and stay curious, pursue new ideas, and write.
The Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) was one of 19 groups to sign on to a letter from the Copyright Alliance to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking him to “modernize the copyright provisions of the NAFTA agreement for the digital age and to establish a template for future agreements.” Meetings to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement began August 16, 2017.
“The internet’s global reach has made copyright protections and enforcement increasingly important to free trade agreements,” states the letter.
As textbook and academic authors, your copyrights are your livelihood, and the value of your copyrights is often enhanced by registering them in the U.S. Copyright Office – something that you can easily do for yourself. Yet, as publishing and copyright attorneys, we find that many text and academic authors know less than they should about copyright registration. Here’s our sample Q&;A conversation with an author who wanted to know more about when, why, and how to register the author’s copyrights:
More 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.
In the publishing world, the concepts of “work-for-hire” and “transfer of copyright” can be challenging to navigate. Authors are often confronted in the publishing agreements by language that is vague and complicated, such as: “The work will be a work-made-for-hire as defined by the Copyright Act, but, if the work is deemed not a work-for-hire, author hereby irrevocably transfers all right, title and interest in the work to the publisher for the entire term of copyright throughout the world.”