Copyright Reversion and the Author's Interest Project
4 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2021
Date Written: September 6, 2020
Book authors are (almost always) the first owners of their copyrights. They typically license or transfer their rights to publishers to get their books to market. Reversion refers to the return of those rights to authors - for example, where a book has gone out of print, where rights aren't being exploited, or after a certain period of time. More than half of the world's nations grant authors statutory reversion rights. But many of these laws were developed in the pre-digital era and have become outdated. In some countries (including Australia and the UK) authors have no mandated rights at all, just whatever is left to them by their publishing contracts.
In this pamphlet, we summarize the results of our research examining over 60 years of such contracts, which finds that the contract-based approach is simply inadequate.
Modern, effective reversion rights have huge potential to help solve the biggest problems facing copyright. By updating existing laws and filling these gaps, we can do much to improve author incomes, create new investment opportunities for publishers, and improve public access to our cultural heritage.
Keywords: copyright, reversion, authors, creators, rights, termination
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation