Publisher’s Weekly reported on Monday that UK publisher Bloomsbury is dropping its previous geographic model and going global, setting up worldwide divisions structured around publishing categories. As part of this move, they’re looking to gain worldwide rights to titles as well.
In an e-mail interview, Dana Newman, a Los Angeles lawyer and literary agent, said Bloomsbury’s move is a sign of the changing times and that there’s more to come:
I think the Bloomsbury restructuring reflects the rapid transition underway to a global publishing model over traditional territorial markets, and that we’ll see a similar disruption in the way rights are licensed — publishers will be seeking world rights, including digital, whenever possible.
These shifts in how publishers approach rights also need to be noted and analyzed by rights holders. “The issues rights holders face in this environment are ensuring that when they grant such expansive rights the publisher is in a position to fully exploit them, and, as always, arriving at fair licensing terms; royalty rates still vary widely among publishers, especially for foreign digital rights,” Newman said.
As digital platforms grow and morph, it’s getting harder to understand who owns what rights. In the Publisher’s Weekly piece, Bloomsbury’s Richard Charkin said “Bloomsbury won’t do a deal that doesn’t include digital rights.” This concept of including digital rights will become even more important as publishers such as Harper Collins start packaging digital rights with audio rights.
Dana Newman will be on the “Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Licensing Issues in the Digital Era” panel at TOC 2011 next week.