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29/01/2013

Rights In The Digital Age

Opinion | | Tips |

As publishing keeps on changing due to the digital shift, rights management and exploitation also need to be revised in order to be adapted to the new landscape. It is important to acknowledge that what it used to work may not be valid anymore or may not be the best way to manage copyright when digital offers wider and (still) unknown possibilities.

In this moment in time, agents and authors are not only licensing one title in a couple of formats. We are currently talking about content or work because we can now sell and distribute chunks, paragraphs, short stories on its own and much more. All these new ways of distributing and selling content are bounded to the way content or work are licensed. 

Rights management has always been the core business of literary agencies and nowadays is becoming more and more strategic, for both publishers and agents, as any kind of content can be quickly distributed and sold online. In this new landscape, rights licensing has larger revenue streams so being agile when licensing author rights and having a flawless track of what kind of rights, subsidiary rights, formats, territories and duration is being acquired, is key in order to provide the best service to authors, and also, to be able to adapt to any changes or other possibilities that may come up to exploit those rights. 

Another important point is that agents are not only working with publishers anymore, now they can also be working and licensing rights to different kinds of platforms or are just helping their authors to self-publish. This is also linked to the fact that literary agents are becoming more and more creative in the way they are licensing rights and writing their contracts. All these new factors have an impact in how rights are being licensed and the new ways that will emerge in the near future, as digital models and new kinds of writing emerge. 

In order to keep track of all these different licenses, digitalizing contracts and having all the data in hand is becoming more relevant as new forms of distribution and exploitation are being explored. It is significant that many publishers and agencies do not have their contracts digitized, they have archives and archives of paper files or that they only have a PDF file of those contracts. It can take days or weeks to find out if you can license that specific content if you have to go through all those paper files, as tidy as you can have them. Also, PDFs are not searchable and you cannot pull the data out of them. 
You may be losing time and, even, new opportunities to exploit the rights you own or represent. 


How do you keep track of rights licenses? 
Do you think you could exploit more or better the rights you own or represent if you had a better management tool?


Maria Cardona
Communications Manager



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Tags: Opinion | | Tips |
Category: Rights & royalties

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