Next month at the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 19 – 23), Ingenta will be partnering with the London Book Fair, BookBrunch and IPR License on a panel entitled “Know Your Rights: The Benefits of IP Management.” The panel will focus on the proliferation of rights opportunities that have sprung up in this age of global and digital publishing, illustrating how these prospects bring both revenue growth and potential legal pitfalls for publishers.

In a preview to the panel, I want to highlight some topics that will be discussed:

GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES

At the Book Industry Study Group Annual Meeting last year, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said in her keynote speech that “backlist is frontlist to a reader who hasn’t read it yet.”  Trade readers are less concerned with when a book was published than if it is an engaging story.  Today, publishers have the opportunity to tap into the new type of relationship readers have with digital content.  Through repackaging and marketing content publishers already have rights to, they are able to grow revenue going directly to their bottom line.

The same is true for licensing rights to foreign publishers and crossmedia partners in the film/TV/gaming industries who are more focused on strong storytelling than on a publication date.

POTENTIAL LEGAL ISSUES

I have written about two notable cases of trade publishers running into trouble when publishing books to which they thought they had rights.  In 2014, it was discovered that UK Publisher Harvill Secker was selling an ebook edition of Patrick Modiano’s The Search Warrant in addition to their print edition, which they published in 2000.  Though they did have print rights, it seems that they did not have the ebook rights.  This error might not have been discovered immediately by Modiano’s French publisher Éditions Gallimard, who held ebook rights, except that Modiano won the Nobel Prize for Literature and a spotlight was shone on all publications of his work.

Earlier this year, a judge finally ruled on the two and a half year lawsuit between HarperCollins and Open Road Integrated Media over the ebook publication of the children’s classic Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George.  Published in 1972 before digital publishing took hold of the industry, George and her agent did not see any language in the book’s contract with HarperCollins that prevented them from selling those rights to Open Road Integrated Media.  HarperCollins thought differently.

CHALLENGES PUBLISHERS FACE

As I noted in an interview with Publishing Perspectives, consumer behavior has changed and publishers have been slow to both understand and adapt to the way content is bought and read since the rise of digital publishing.

Additionally, the rights department is not an area in which publishers tend to invest.  While other industries tend to mine their catalog of content for future revenue, publishers tend to seek new content for publication.  So, in order for publishers to fully take advantage of these opportunities, they must conduct an audit of their rights portfolio to better know what they have and how to exploit those opportunities available to them in this new marketplace.

By Randy Petway

PANEL DETAILS:

Wednesday, 9:30 – 10:30am, Hot Spot, Hall 6.2

Know Your Rights: The Benefits of IP Management

Global digital publishing has created a proliferation of rights opportunities that bring both growth opportunities and potential pitfalls through misuse or mismanagement of licenses. Hosted by Ingenta and partnering with the London Book Fair, Bookbrunch and IPR License, this panel will offer solutions from publishers on how to take advantage of new markets and audience demands.

Jacks Thomas, LBF to introduce the panel

Neill Denny, BookBrunch to moderate

Panelists include:

Jane Tappuni, IPR License

Randy Petway, Ingenta

Katherine Ryan, Sage