The Rule of Law

The speed of change in the transformation towards electronic publishing (that’s what we used to call it a very long time ago) is picking up. Trends in technology, business, the search for new business models and very disruptive forces converge. The outcome still is blurred, but the road ahead seems to be clear. Authors will be authors, middle men will have to change, and traditional publishers have to find a new role and provide for longer lasting added value.

Some very interesting underlying points came to my attention this last week. In the avalanche of hot pressing news on devices and giant new players, we seem to forget our authors, the readers and the rule, and role of Law.

What will be the effects of the changing revenue streams on authors? They produce the original content. Will they make less in e or i? Will it be enough to collect a decent income, to keep them writing? 

Readers have great expectations, but how does one deliver?

And in a talk at Leiden University, Dirk Visser, esteemed professor and lawyer in matters of  intellectual property law, took the stand claiming that publishers who refuse to publish in digital formats misuse copyrights. In his view copyright is meant to provide the author with control on the distribution and to be paid for it. Copyright does not imply that publishers can prohibit or boycot new digital forms of distribution. Neither does copyright protect the concept of business as usual or the old ways of doing things.

Considering the effects on and benefits for authors and readers, the Dutch publishers Bertram & De Leeuw  (link in Dutch only) might have a thing or two going for them. They don’t have to fear lawsuits, at least not from authors.

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