Thursday, April 24, 2014

Looking For Author Rights In The Bare Cupboard

Attempted to soar but couldn't quite get off the ground
The bankruptcy court told us that the MacAdam/Cage publishing concern is skint. Utterly and absolutely. The cupboard is so bare there's not even a spider or remote crumb to be found.

Print authors saw their rights reverted as part of the proceedings that wound down the once storied publishing house. After MacAdam/Cage declared bankruptcy, those who felt the slap of publishing's door closing on their faces were entitled to those rights after a sixty day waiting period. They are free now to self-publish their book if they wish to reprint it, but the e-book rights are another matter altogether.

At some point, when MacAdam/Cage owner David Poindexter was trying to salvage what he could before he lost it all, the rights to e-book publication for MacAdam/Cage titles was sold to Mark Pearce, a hobbyist who started up a digital publishing company because he loved books. He saw a solid investment opportunity in the MacAdam/Cage backlist, and he snapped it up.

Authors who were published by MacAdam/Cage cannot create e-books of their own works without violating the law. All they can do is continue to promote and then wait for Mr. Pearce to send them a royalty check. And it will continue like that until the copyright runs out, long after the authors are dead.

Some have said they aren't getting those checks, while Mr. Pearce asserts that he is on top of the finances and has paid out all that is owed in a timely manner. The man who loves books will soon be inundated with demands from former MacAdam/Cage writers, looking for all his records that prove his statement is, indeed, true.

He did not ask for this mess, of course. He wanted to buy up digital rights and publish electronically and make a little money while paying the authors what their old contracts said they were to be paid. The royalties went to MacAdam/Cage for distribution, and that is where the trail may veer off and plummet over the fiscal cliff. Just because Mr. Pearce paid MacAdam/Cage doesn't mean MacAdam/Cage forwarded the money, and since MacAdam/Cage is devoid of assets, the money is as good as gone and the authors are out of pocket for past due balances.

Mr. Pearce will also want to line up a smart solicitor because the lawsuits are bound to follow. While he may have entered into a deal with Mr. Poindexter that was of benefit to them both, it may not be entirely legitimate. A judge could determine that the authors were hard done by, and thus the sale of rights was invalid from the start. In which case, the authors get their rights back and they can choose any number of digital publishing platforms to manage their backlists themselves.

To show good faith, Mr. Pearce has stated that he will deal with authors directly, now that MacAdam/Cage is no longer a middleman. Given the level of distrust that was generated, however, they may not be interested in a new relationship. 

Ultimately, Mr. Pearce will end up with a blow to his bottom line, given the expense he'll face to straighten out the mess from his end, even if he has done everything he was supposed to do.

Enough to put a man off his love of books for a good long time.

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