Why All Publisher Assets Begin with Intellectual Property

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Why All Publisher Assets Begin with Intellectual PropertyCopyright, intellectual property (IP) and licensing might not sound like the most colorful of subject matters, but that should certainly not deter from their importance, especially within the publishing industry.

Some may consider these areas of the market as being less flexible or less prone to change than others, but in light of recent government proposals to fast-track changes in copyright legislation, which—as reported in the Bookseller last month—are set to have “devastating consequences” for the design publishing industry. This is not always the case, however.

To put this particular case into some kind of context, a repeal to copyright law, fast-tracked to come into force in April, 2016, is set to restrict the use of 2D images of 3D design objects in publishing, such as photographs and illustrations of furniture, textiles, architecture and jewelry, used heavily in books on the history of design. Furthermore, the government has reduced the time publishers have to comply with the new legislation from five years to six months (known as the repeal of section 52) following a judicial review brought by three furniture manufacturers.

This represents a significant shift in legislation and really underlines the potential impact of copyright and the possibility of future changes to policy. As such, it remains vital for all publishers to keep fully abreast of any developments in the copyright and IP fields, and equally important is the speed at which to implement all the necessary tools to keep pace with any transformation.

But that’s not the only issue for publishers to contend with in this area of the market.

Copyright infringement and digital piracy remain a threat that continues to challenge all sectors, publishing and beyond. The tricky question is how to combat this? Not easily, and certainly something that can’t be covered in one simple blog post. However, looking at this very simplistically, physical piracy often occurs due to a lack of availability. One way to disrupt piracy is for a growing number of legitimate sources to provide content at a price people can actually afford and in a format they are willing to use. This means that the more content that can be funnelled through an effective licensing stream, the better.

Emerging markets are usually the ones suggested as having piracy issues, but that shouldn’t stop publishers from embracing the available business on offer. And there remains huge potential in these markets for secondary licensing—another way to tackle additional piracy.

So is a greater volume of more effective licensing the solution? There is a long list of influencing factors to take into consideration, but the answer has to be that, while it may not be the all-encompassing solution we might hope for, it is certainly a good start.

I have sat through a number of seminars and heard the stick-and-carrot approach to copyright protection debated. My view is that while the stick should always be visible for the determined and purposefully criminal copyright infringers, a large amount of infringement can be reduced through clear ownership and ease of transaction for rights licensing.

There is various other legislation publishers need to be mindful of—from VAT to EU Single Digital Market—so it is vital that all in the industry get their houses in order. And as those publishing houses are built on IP, that should be the first place to start.

To get all the ebook and digital publishing news you need every day in your inbox at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!

3 thoughts on “Why All Publisher Assets Begin with Intellectual Property

  1. Palessa

    Ok, I know this is going to hit the design publishing industry but I can’t help but think about how it could ripple from there. What about those of us who are fiction writers and use sights such as Dreamstime or Bigstock photos for covers that may have building or furniture in them…would we feel the effects of this change? And if I take a picture of a building I want to use for a teaser…can someone turn around and slap me for that even though it’s a picture I took for my own purposes?

    1. Tom ChalmersTom Chalmers Post author

      Thanks for the comment – the rules are quickly changing though if you are buying the rights through reputable clearing sites then you should reduce the chance of infringement than if you are sourcing the images yourself directly from the internet. The key will be the technology evolving to meet the needs of the new laws though with new copyright laws being fast-tracked, the creative industries need to act quickly.

  2. Anne - Intellectual Property

    Hi Tom. As a follow up question on Palessa’s query. So even if it is a picture of a building taken by myself, will there be any repercussions if I use it for a cover of my book? A picture I personally took? Thanks!



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *