Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the monthly MWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter meeting. Our speaker was publishing attorney Daniel Steven and he talked about the protection of intellectual property rights, the ebook revolution, and piracy. (Incidentally, he was for, neutral, and against.)
A few things I came away with:
With regard to ebooks, Steven described publishing as being at the “beginning of an era, like the wild, wild west.” Much of the conflict between publishers and authors in the ebook arena comes from old laws/old contracts being applied against the new, digital world.
An example: For an older book, printed before ebooks even existed, there was no assignment of digital rights (obviously). So now, publishers claim that they own the rights and authors, of course, claim that they do. It’s a murky area.
He advised writers that, right now, if you had to choose just one format to e-publish in, pick the Kindle.
Discussing piracy, Steven said that in a lot of cases, there’s not much a writer can do, short of legal action. And even then, because many of the more organized pirate sites are off-shore, it’s almost impossible to get anything done about it. He suggested that pricing your work at a certain (lower) price point might make pirating “not worth the effort or risk.”
All in all, a very enlightening evening.
For more valuable information about publishing law, check out Daniel Steven’s website.