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scope
06-02-2011, 03:13 AM
One of my books (my first) was in print from 1970 to 2003. It's been out of print since then and I've been walking into walls trying to find out who currently owns the copyright. I finally emailed the U.S. Copyright office and just received a reply. They didn't tell me who owns the copyright, only that for them to research same I would have to pay $130 an hour (they say I should figure $330 if I want to proceed and to call them with credit card info if so). Also, it will take about 8 weeks.

I contacted the original copyright holder who sold their business (a biggy) to another biggy. I contacted the new biggy and they know nothing. I think the whole thing is insane.

Any ideas?

DeleyanLee
06-02-2011, 03:32 AM
Easy answer: Look at what's printed in the book as to who owns the copyright. Whoever that is won't have changed since the book was in print.

Since the book was copyrighted in 1970--before the law change of 1978 and others--the length of copyright is what I'd be looking at to see if it's still in effect or the work has gone into public domain. I don't think it should've, but it would be good to be certain.

Good luck.

Jamesaritchie
06-02-2011, 03:33 AM
Are you sure you don't own copyright? I retain copyright on every novel I've had published, regardless of who the publisher is.

Have you tried simply looking up the book on the copyright site? I can do this with each of mine, and it tells me who owns the copyright, which happens to be me.

If it's in their catalog, you should be able to find it, and see who holds copyright.

MJNL
06-02-2011, 03:44 AM
I'm curious as to why you ask. Like James said, it could be you. Actually, you always own your copyright. Publishers simply lease the rights from you. If you’re asking because you want to continue work in the same universe, go for it. Doesn’t matter what publisher filed your copyright, the work is still yours.

If you’re asking because you’re trying to figure out if you can take your backlist to a different publisher, then yes, you do need to figure out if they’re still leasing the rights.

I’m guessing your contract must have gotten misplaced. That should have told you what rights were purchased.

And bummer on the investigative costs. That seems outrageous, and I’ve never heard of it before.

Good luck, sorry I can't actually be of help! :)

scope
06-02-2011, 03:58 AM
Easy answer: Look at what's printed in the book as to who owns the copyright. Whoever that is won't have changed since the book was in print.

Since the book was copyrighted in 1970--before the law change of 1978 and others--the length of copyright is what I'd be looking at to see if it's still in effect or the work has gone into public domain. I don't think it should've, but it would be good to be certain.

Good luck.

DeleyanLee,

The original copyright holder in 1970 is the company that sold to another company. I realize it's logical to assume that the copyright belongs to the original, but I don't know, and I
can't find out if it was somehow transferred to the new company. I'm just walking into walls.

Their are two ISBN #'s. One 10 digits, the other 13 digits.

Thanks for your help.

scope
06-02-2011, 04:07 AM
Are you sure you don't own copyright? I retain copyright on every novel I've had published, regardless of who the publisher is.

Have you tried simply looking up the book on the copyright site? I can do this with each of mine, and it tells me who owns the copyright, which happens to be me.

If it's in their catalog, you should be able to find it, and see who holds copyright.

James,

Unfortunately I'm sure I don't own the copyright to this book. I got a tremendous deal from the original publisher (very large advance, very high royalties, huge promotion and marketing, etc.) and it being my first, and me being stupid, I gave them the copyright (although in retrospect I certainly wouldn't have gotten from them what I did without doing so, and who know what would have happened from there). All other books I have retained copyright.

I have tried--unsuccessfully--to look it up on the copyright site.

Thanks for your help.
Steve

scope
06-02-2011, 04:18 AM
I'm curious as to why you ask. Like James said, it could be you. Actually, you always own your copyright. Publishers simply lease the rights from you.


The publishing company is listed as the copyright holder in every version of the book (hardcover, paperback, foreign). The problem is exasperated by the fact that my original copy of the contract (with more more) was lost in a fire that destroyed my apartment house in 1999.


If you’re asking because you want to continue work in the same universe, go for it. Doesn’t matter what publisher filed your copyright, the work is still yours.

What I would like to do is e-pub this book. I think it still has a lot of legs and I believe my platform and connecions might help. It would be my first attempt at SP'ing an e-book.

If you’re asking because you’re trying to figure out if you can take your backlist to a different publisher, then yes, you do need to figure out if they’re still leasing the rights.

This is a long shot, but not out of the picture.

I’m guessing your contract must have gotten misplaced. That should have told you what rights were purchased.

See above re fire.

And bummer on the investigative costs. That seems outrageous, and I’ve never heard of it before.

Neither have I. Maybe a call to the Author's Guild might help steer me in the right direction.

Good luck, sorry I can't actually be of help! :)

Thanks MJLN.

IceCreamEmpress
06-02-2011, 04:55 AM
So if the prior publisher is out of business, and the people to whom they sold the business don't believe they own the copyright, I am not seeing any obstacle to your reissuing this. Am I missing something? It doesn't seem like anyone would be disputing the copyright with you. You have done due diligence in good faith, it seems to me.

How could anyone prove that you didn't have the authority to publish this book? They'd have to produce a copy of the original contract, which the new business doesn't seem to have.

I understand your desire to be totally scrupulous here, and I applaud you for it, but I am also doubting that paying hundreds of dollars to the USCO is going to get you an inch farther along than you are now.

MJNL
06-02-2011, 06:22 AM
Wow, a house fire, that'll do it. Sorry to hear about that.

It does seem like the publisher who bought the previous publisher should be able to tell you straight up if they are holding the rights or not.

I don't know how you've tried to contact them, but perhaps a letter to their legal department might get better results than, say, one to an editor.

It might be worth looking into what happens when one pubber buys another: are all of the rights transferred to the new publisher, or do new contracts have to be drawn up? If new contracts need signed, and that didn't happen, that should make it clear that the rights have reverted back to you.

And, I think if they write back with a "we don't know," I suspect you’re good as long as you hold onto those papers (though I’m not a lawyer, so don’t quote me on that). You could even inform them, if you wanted to, that you are interpreting that as them relinquishing legal claim to the work. That might either get them to push for more information, or a green light to do what you please.

I don't know how transference of acquisitions works in the industry, to be quite honest, but those are my thoughts.

As IceCreamEmpress said, once you’ve contacted all entities you can, you’ve done your job. If you can verify that no one is going to challenge your claim, even better. At least you know that if no one can offer proof that they hold it it’s yours!

Hope that was a little more helpful. :)

ETA: You might have done all this already. If so, don't mind me.

Susan Littlefield
06-02-2011, 07:18 AM
One of my books (my first) was in print from 1970 to 2003. It's been out of print since then and I've been walking into walls trying to find out who currently owns the copyright. I finally emailed the U.S. Copyright office and just received a reply. They didn't tell me who owns the copyright, only that for them to research same I would have to pay $130 an hour (they say I should figure $330 if I want to proceed and to call them with credit card info if so). Also, it will take about 8 weeks.

I contacted the original copyright holder who sold their business (a biggy) to another biggy. I contacted the new biggy and they know nothing. I think the whole thing is insane.

Any ideas?

Oh my goodness, that is a dilemma! It sounds very insane. Have you tried the free search (http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First)at Copyright.gov? They are for works published from 1978 to the present date.

Also, the University of Pennsylvania is supposed to have a search function to find out copyrights, but I was unable to get on their site.

Good luck, and please tell us how it goes.

Susan Littlefield
06-02-2011, 07:20 AM
Scope, I now see you have looked it up at the copyright office. You might want to try the copyright search at Penn University. You never know.

scope
06-02-2011, 07:37 AM
So if the prior publisher is out of business, (YES) and the people to whom they sold the business don't believe they own the copyright, (It's an entertainment company that doesn't do book publishing. A few entertainment mags, yes. They have no idea what I'm talking about). I am not seeing any obstacle to your reissuing this. Am I missing something? It doesn't seem like anyone would be disputing the copyright with you. You have done due diligence in good faith, it seems to me. (Good advice).

How could anyone prove that you didn't have the authority to publish this book? They'd have to produce a copy of the original contract, which the new business doesn't seem to have.

I understand your desire to be totally scrupulous here, and I applaud you for it, but I am also doubting that paying hundreds of dollars to the USCO is going to get you an inch farther along than you are now. (Makes sense)

Thanks.

scope
06-02-2011, 07:44 AM
It does seem like the publisher who bought the previous publisher should be able to tell you straight up if they are holding the rights or not. (No, but wouldn't you think so?).

I don't know how you've tried to contact them, but perhaps a letter to their legal department might get better results than, say, one to an editor. (Tried, no use).

It might be worth looking into what happens when one pubber buys another: are all of the rights transferred to the new publisher, or do new contracts have to be drawn up? If new contracts need signed, and that didn't happen, that should make it clear that the rights have reverted back to you. (Since in the long and short run I want peace of mind and don't want to leave myself open, I'm thinking of turning the whole matter over to an intellectual rights attorney. It will cost a few bucks but it may the most prudent thing I can do).

Hope that was a little more helpful. :)

Yes, and thanks much.


ss

scope
06-02-2011, 07:47 AM
Oh my goodness, that is a dilemma! It sounds very insane. Have you tried the free search (http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First)at Copyright.gov? They are for works published from 1978 to the present date.

Yes, I tried the free search, but to no avail. My guess is that the book was published in 1970.

Also, the University of Pennsylvania is supposed to have a search function to find out copyrights, but I was unable to get on their site.

I will definitely try Penn.

Good luck, and please tell us how it goes.

Thanks for the well wishes and te good advice. I will let you know what happens. If nothing else it's an interesting case.

Medievalist
06-02-2011, 08:25 AM
One of my books (my first) was in print from 1970 to 2003. It's been out of print since then and I've been walking into walls trying to find out who currently owns the copyright.

Do you have the original contract? Was it work for hire--and you sold them all rights?

Or did you give them a limited license for certain rights for a certain period of time?

Do you have a copy of the book? What does the frontmatter say?

Jamesaritchie
06-02-2011, 08:01 PM
James,

Unfortunately I'm sure I don't own the copyright to this book. I got a tremendous deal from the original publisher (very large advance, very high royalties, huge promotion and marketing, etc.) and it being my first, and me being stupid, I gave them the copyright (although in retrospect I certainly wouldn't have gotten from them what I did without doing so, and who know what would have happened from there). All other books I have retained copyright.

I have tried--unsuccessfully--to look it up on the copyright site.

Thanks for your help.
Steve

Man, that bites. no publisher has ever even asked me for copyright. When you sell copyright, you're selling every right, all rights, and the entire future of the book.

Your best chance is probably the contract. There may be a clause saying the copyright reverts back to you once the book is out of print. I have this clause for the rights publishers do buy. If such a clause isn't there, you're probably out of luck.

But whoever owns copyright, the book should still be listed with the copyright office. Every book since 1978 is searchable in the catalog. Is it possible it was registered before 1978?

Medievalist
06-02-2011, 08:04 PM
Their are two ISBN #'s. One 10 digits, the other 13 digits.

Thanks for your help.

That means someone believes that they own the copyright; they requested and received (and paid for) a new 13 digit ISBN.

That ISBN should tell you who owns the copyright, or believes that they do.

scope
06-02-2011, 08:42 PM
Do you have the original contract? Was it work for hire--and you sold them all rights?

Contract was lost in a home fire. No, it wasn't work for hire.

Or did you give them a limited license for certain rights for a certain period of time?

No.

Do you have a copy of the book? What does the frontmatter say?

Copyright @ 1969 (name of company)
Akk rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced...


Revised 1979
Library of Congress Catalog Number.......


Thanks Medievalist

scope
06-02-2011, 08:52 PM
Man, that bites. no publisher has ever even asked me for copyright. When you sell copyright, you're selling every right, all rights, and the entire future of the book.

I know. As I said, it was the first book I wrote and the publisher made me an increible offer to beat offers made by other publishers. Being overwhelmed and void of any publishing knowledge at the time I only had a regular attorney with me when I met with the publishers board of 10 and only made some changes, which although to my benfit, didn't address this issue -- which I never even thought about at the time. I quickly learned thereafter.

Your best chance is probably the contract. There may be a clause saying the copyright reverts back to you once the book is out of print. I have this clause for the rights publishers do buy. If such a clause isn't there, you're probably out of luck.

I think you are right. I'm doing all I can to get hold of a copy.

But whoever owns copyright, the book should still be listed with the copyright office. Every book since 1978 is searchable in the catalog. Is it possible it was registered before 1978?

Yes, 1970 or 1969, and I'm guessing that's why the copyright office is having a problem.


Thanks for your concern.

scope
06-02-2011, 08:55 PM
That means someone believes that they own the copyright; they requested and received (and paid for) a new 13 digit ISBN.

That ISBN should tell you who owns the copyright, or believes that they do.

Makes sense to me, but perhaps not if the 13 digit ISBN was requested before 1978???

rsullivan9597
06-02-2011, 08:58 PM
Boy...I would call an Intellectual propererty lawyer and ask them a few questions - I think they would do it for free in the hopes of you using their services.

The issue that some here may be confusing is print rights - which will revert (especially if a company goes out of business) and copyright - which I'm not sure does. For instance if you do "work for hire" and the company you worked for goes out of business the work does not "revert to you" as it was never yours to begin with - even though you created it.

If we were talking about a contract to publish - I would say differently but I think you gave away all claims to this work when you signed over the copyright - but I'm not a a laywer but asking a single question such as.....

If I signed over the copyright to a company that no longer exists - do I have rights to publish that work?

Would probably answer it right away.

Terie
06-02-2011, 08:58 PM
Copyright @ 1969 (name of company)
Akk rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced...

That typo wasn't accidental, was it? :D

blacbird
06-02-2011, 09:27 PM
Boy...I would call an Intellectual propererty lawyer and ask them a few questions - I think they would do it for free in the hopes of you using their services.

Don't bet your house on this.

IceCreamEmpress
06-02-2011, 10:13 PM
I think they would do it for free in the hopes of you using their services.

I have never heard of an intellectual property attorney, let alone one with expertise in publishing, doing this for an individual writer. It's not a field where people generally do "on spec" consultations in hope of attracting business the way tax or liability attorneys sometimes do.

That said, if scope lives in a city or state that has a Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts program, that might be an avenue worth pursuing.

Bubastes
06-02-2011, 10:18 PM
Boy...I would call an Intellectual propererty lawyer and ask them a few questions - I think they would do it for free in the hopes of you using their services.


I doubt it. A more likely scenario is that they'll charge a retainer for what they estimate the work will cost and require payment up-front.

ICE is right about the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts route. That would be a good bet.

ishtar'sgate
06-02-2011, 10:41 PM
Are you sure you don't own copyright? I retain copyright on every novel I've had published, regardless of who the publisher is.



Me too and I suspect this depends on your contract. My publisher has the exclusive right to print and sell but if they haven't sold any copies for 2 consecutive years those rights revert back to me.

Susan Littlefield
06-02-2011, 11:57 PM
In California where I live, some most attorneys give free 1/2 hour consultations, but I'm not sure that would be appropriate in Scope's situation.

Jamesaritchie
06-03-2011, 12:20 AM
In California where I live, some most attorneys give free 1/2 hour consultations, but I'm not sure that would be appropriate in Scope's situation.

Attorneys here often give free consults, as well, but they don't usually solve any legal problems in the process. The consult is primarily just to hear you problem, and see if there's anything they believe they can do for you. When they actually give legal advice, or go to work for you, the money has to start flowing.

scope
06-03-2011, 12:51 AM
Boy...I would call an Intellectual propererty lawyer and ask them a few questions - I think they would do it for free in the hopes of you using their services.

If I signed over the copyright to a company that no longer exists - do I have rights to publish that work?

Would probably answer it right away.

I think you are right. I've tried everything I know of and now I think it's time for an IPR lawyer.

scope
06-03-2011, 12:52 AM
That typo wasn't accidental, was it? :D

So sorry. I meant to type "All".

scope
06-03-2011, 12:57 AM
I have never heard of an intellectual property attorney, let alone one with expertise in publishing, doing this for an individual writer. It's not a field where people generally do "on spec" consultations in hope of attracting business the way tax or liability attorneys sometimes do.

That said, if scope lives in a city or state that has a Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts program, that might be an avenue worth pursuing.

Thanks ICP. If I go ahead with this, which I probably will, I'll hir a private intellectual rights attorney. Could be mucho bucks depending on how much time he'll need to spend on it. if a

scope
06-03-2011, 12:59 AM
Me too and I suspect this depends on your contract. My publisher has the exclusive right to print and sell but if they haven't sold any copies for 2 consecutive years those rights revert back to me.

This is the basic nut's and bolt's of all contracts I've signed since this first one.

shaldna
06-03-2011, 01:22 AM
One of my books (my first) was in print from 1970 to 2003. It's been out of print since then and I've been walking into walls trying to find out who currently owns the copyright.

You do.

In fact, you own it until 75 years after you die.

The PRINTING RIGHTS however, will be laid out in the original contract you had with your publihser. If that contract said 5 years, then after 5 years they revert to you.

Silver King
06-03-2011, 03:19 AM
...Being overwhelmed and void of any publishing knowledge at the time I only had a regular attorney with me when I met with the publishers...
It might be worth contacting the attorney you hired to see if they're still around. They may have, or rather should have, kept a copy of the contract you signed as part of their records.

Albedo
06-03-2011, 03:33 AM
Makes sense to me, but perhaps not if the 13 digit ISBN was requested before 1978???

13 digit ISBNs have only been around since the mid-2000s or so. So it indicates someone actively held the rights very recently.

scope
06-03-2011, 07:59 AM
It might be worth contacting the attorney you hired to see if they're still around. They may have, or rather should have, kept a copy of the contract you signed as part of their records.

I tried this also. Can't locate him any which-way I try.

scope
06-03-2011, 08:02 AM
You do.

In fact, you own it until 75 years after you die.

The PRINTING RIGHTS however, will be laid out in the original contract you had with your publihser. If that contract said 5 years, then after 5 years they revert to you.

Appreciate your answer, but why would the actual book say that the copyright is held by the original publisher?

scope
06-03-2011, 08:12 AM
13 digit ISBNs have only been around since the mid-2000s or so. So it indicates someone actively held the rights very recently.

I didn't know this, but it's entirely possible since from 1983 to 2003 distribution of the book was handled by a publishing company other than the copyright holder company. I spoke to them (the distributor)-their legal and copyright departemts-and they told me-as I knew-that they had no ownership of the book and only acted as a districutor for the copyright holder, reporting sales to them. "Them" being the company no longer in business. The distributor pub company was very nice and admitted that they thought this could be a mess to figure out.

Medievalist
06-03-2011, 08:54 AM
I tried this also. Can't locate him any which-way I try.

The bar association of the state you were in and he was licensed to practice can help you locate him and find out if he is still alive.

Medievalist
06-03-2011, 08:58 AM
I didn't know this, but it's entirely possible since from 1983 to 2003 distribution of the book was handled by a publishing company other than the copyright holder company. I spoke to them (the distributor)-their legal and copyright departemts-and they told me-as I knew-that they had no ownership of the book and only acted as a districutor for the copyright holder, reporting sales to them. "Them" being the company no longer in business. The distributor pub company was very nice and admitted that they thought this could be a mess to figure out.

The no-longer-in-business company is what you need to research (I used to do rights and trade mark checks).

You will need to do much of this research in a library.

You need to find out how/why the company went out of business, and who got their assets.

You may be able to assert rights to an orphaned work--or ask the entity who has the rights to assign them to you.

Ask yourself: Is this 1970 book still worth this effort and cost?

Would you be better off writing the book as a new work from scratch?

shaldna
06-03-2011, 01:20 PM
Appreciate your answer, but why would the actual book say that the copyright is held by the original publisher?


Sorry, I didn['t see that bit until after I'd posted.

Are the company still in operation? If not then you need to find out how the company was dissoloved.

Jamesaritchie
06-03-2011, 07:23 PM
You do.

In fact, you own it until 75 years after you die.

The PRINTING RIGHTS however, will be laid out in the original contract you had with your publihser. If that contract said 5 years, then after 5 years they revert to you.

You only own copyright until you sell it, or assign it, to someone else. Copyright can be sold, or given away, the same as any other right.

It's usually printing/publishing rights that are sold or assigned, but not always by any means.

I've sold actual copyright more than once, and I've written other things that assigned the copyright to someone else, even though I created the work. I do not own the copyright on these things until seventy-five years after I die.

aruna
06-03-2011, 07:27 PM
I do not own the copyright on these things until seventy-five years after I die.
:roll:

Susan Littlefield
06-04-2011, 06:18 AM
I do not own the copyright on these things until seventy-five years after I die.

You mean when you've been dead 75 years, you get ownership of the copyright? My question is--how will you have the copyright? :D

scope
06-04-2011, 08:03 AM
The no-longer-in-business company is what you need to research (I used to do rights and trade mark checks).

You will need to do much of this research in a library.

You need to find out how/why the company went out of business, and who got their assets.

You may be able to assert rights to an orphaned work--or ask the entity who has the rights to assign them to you.

Ask yourself: Is this 1970 book still worth this effort and cost?

Would you be better off writing the book as a new work from scratch?

Great advice. I've gone to local libraries (relatively small suburban) but next week I will go to the huge, main Library on 34th Street in Manhattan, NY.

The book is a MG nonfiction children's book that was sold at the retail level to parents and others who wanted to teach and/or explain it's subject to children. It was also a staple in public and private schools (approved in most curriculums), as well as in libraries, and in some 40 foreign languages all over the world. I'm trying to get the rights back since it has a wonderful pedigree, sold over a millon copies, is well known in its large niche market (I guess that's an oxymoron?). Since I don't know what to make of the e-book market and want to experience what it's about on my own, my thinking is to try to do so with this book, even though I keep reading that children's books are a tough sell for e-books. If it can be done, I believe that some parents (no idea how many since it e-books) with 5-10 year olds would buy it.

But you are right. If it becomes too difficult, time consuming, or expensive for me to even try to get the rights I'll probably just forget about it.

blacbird
06-04-2011, 08:12 AM
why would the actual book say that the copyright is held by the original publisher?

Looking at some books from my personal library, I get the impression that the statement of copyright in the frontispiece can be kind of vague and sloppy. After all, the vast majority of readers pay no attention to it, and it's nothing more than a dinky legality, probably produced by boilerplate at printing time.

If possible, you need to research what you actually signed over to this defunct company, but after forty years, that may well be impossible. So the next question is, Who is going to contest your claim to your own work?

And this is a more important issue now than it was then, owing to the ephemeral nature of a lot of e-zines and e-publishers. What happens if a story you got published through Fly By Night Quarterly disappears from the e-universe after six months because the e-zine went belly-up?

scope
06-04-2011, 08:31 AM
Are the company still in operation? If not then you need to find out how the company was dissoloved.

The original company who owned the copyright went out of business and sold the company to a large entertainment company who really doesn't have a book publishing division. I haven't been able to get hold of anyone from the original company. I spoke to the legal and copyrght office of the entertainment company and they know nothing or don't want to tell me anything.

blacbird
06-04-2011, 08:37 AM
I spoke to the legal and copyrght office of the entertainment company and they know nothing or don't want to tell me anything.

The bolded has a chance of 99.99999999% of being correct. Don't get paranoid. This was a looooooooooooooooooooooong time ago. Chances are whoever you spoke to wasn't even close to being born at the time whatever agreement you made took place.

Further, I'd bet my best two cats they don't even give a rat's.

scope
06-04-2011, 08:38 AM
You only own copyright until you sell it, or assign it, to someone else. Copyright can be sold, or given away, the same as any other right.


Aside from my first book, at which time I knew nothing, I thought this to be the case.

scope
06-04-2011, 08:47 AM
Looking at some books from my personal library, I get the impression that the statement of copyright in the frontispiece can be kind of vague and sloppy. After all, the vast majority of readers pay no attention to it, and it's nothing more than a dinky legality, probably produced by boilerplate at printing time.

Agreed, but as you say, if it is a legality, dinky or not, you (I) lose.

If possible, you need to research what you actually signed over to this defunct company, but after forty years, that may well be impossible. So the next question is, Who is going to contest your claim to your own work?

It's looks like it's fast becoming impossible, unless I want to hire an IPR attoney and spend of of money. Frankly, whether or not anyone might in the future contest my claim isn't something I want or need to have hanging over my head. But I do appreciate your thoughts and willingness to try and help.

And this is a more important issue now than it was then, owing to the ephemeral nature of a lot of e-zines and e-publishers. What happens if a story you got published through Fly By Night Quarterly disappears from the e-universe after six months because the e-zine went belly-up?

I have no idea, but it it seems wise that those who want to seriously pursue e publishing on their own would find out before doing anything.


ss

scope
06-04-2011, 08:51 AM
The bolded has a chance of 99.99999999% of being correct. Don't get paranoid. This was a looooooooooooooooooooooong time ago. Chances are whoever you spoke to wasn't even close to being born at the time whatever agreement you made took place.

Further, I'd bet my best two cats they don't even give a rat's.

I think you're spot on, especially your last paragraph.

Thanks.

rsullivan9597
06-04-2011, 06:12 PM
I doubt it. A more likely scenario is that they'll charge a retainer for what they estimate the work will cost and require payment up-front.

ICE is right about the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts route. That would be a good bet.

I'm not saying - ask them to do research - I'm saying call their office and say "Can I ask you a quick question"...blah blah blah.

People do this to me all the time - and I'll take a few minutes to give them a "quick answer' or point them in a direction. That's what I meant.

Medievalist
06-04-2011, 06:22 PM
I'm trying to get the rights back since it has a wonderful pedigree, sold over a millon copies, is well known in its large niche market (I guess that's an oxymoron?). Since I don't know what to make of the e-book market and want to experience what it's about on my own, my thinking is to try to do so with this book, even though I keep reading that children's books are a tough sell for e-books.

1. You need to prove that the book is an "orphaned copyright"; you will need to consult an attorney in order to prove due diligence. This will be pricey. I routinely billed attorneys who hired me to do copyright research thousands of dollars, at cheap graduate student pay rates. They in turn billed their clients thousands of dollars more. Attorneys customarily bill in terms of ten minute increments; there's a reason most of the book provenance cases I worked on were related to the film industry.

2. If you want to do a MG ebook, start fresh. Make it non-derivivative, and make it an interactive or enhanced ebook. Go crazy with imaged; included video; include lots of hypertext links that either go out to a Web site YOU own and create, or to the book itself. (Many parents with MG readers won't want to send their kids off to the wild Internet.)


Spend the money on the new book; not on the old. It's a great pedigree, you're right, but that's for the print book; not the book you want to sell now.

Jamesaritchie
06-04-2011, 06:47 PM
You mean when you've been dead 75 years, you get ownership of the copyright? My question is--how will you have the copyright? :D

Yes, I have that clause written into every contract. Don't you?

Susan Littlefield
06-04-2011, 09:30 PM
Yes, I have that clause written into every contract. Don't you?

:)

My joke did not work. I meant to say how will you KNOW you have copyright if you have been dead for 75 years?:sleepy:

Jamesaritchie
06-04-2011, 09:37 PM
:)

My joke did not work. I meant to say how will you KNOW you have copyright if you have been dead for 75 years?:sleepy:

Uh, Heaven has a library, and you have to get copyright back before they allow your books in it?

scope
06-04-2011, 09:45 PM
1. You need to prove that the book is an "orphaned copyright"; you will need to consult an attorney in order to prove due diligence. This will be pricey. I routinely billed attorneys who hired me to do copyright research thousands of dollars, at cheap graduate student pay rates. They in turn billed their clients thousands of dollars more. Attorneys customarily bill in terms of ten minute increments; there's a reason most of the book provenance cases I worked on were related to the film industry.

Wow! It doesn't make sense for me to spend this kind of money on this out of print book.

2. If you want to do a MG ebook, start fresh. Make it non-derivivative, and make it an interactive or enhanced ebook. Go crazy with imaged; included video; include lots of hypertext links that either go out to a Web site YOU own and create, or to the book itself. (Many parents with MG readers won't want to send their kids off to the wild Internet.)


Spend the money on the new book; not on the old. It's a great pedigree, you're right, but that's for the print book; not the book you want to sell now.

Great advice. I have a new MG book I've been working on and I just may try to adapt that to the type of ebook you describe.

Thanks.

Susan Littlefield
06-04-2011, 09:46 PM
Uh, Heaven has a library, and you have to get copyright back before they allow your books in it?

So cute. :D

No more jokes from me, though.