Digital Rights still up in the air


By Carmen Comment

The Bookseller’s Alison Bone reports that negotiations between agents and publishers over digital contracts, which began in January, have stalled after failing to reach agreement on which rights should be granted to publishers. However, both sides stressed that this didn’t mean negotiations couldn’t resume at a later date, though talks are now likely to continue between individual publishers and agents rather than as an overall trade body initiative.

Association of Authors’ Agents president Clare Alexander acknowledged that “different special interest groups had different agendas”, adding that the digital world was changing so fast that “as quickly as we discuss one thing, another comes to the fore”. She said: “I think this was too ambitious, too early. We have covered a lot of ground and there will be things that come out of it that are positive. But I think we were trying to build the whole building before what we knew what the bricks are made of.” She said the discussions were likely to continue, “but not in quite the way we envisaged”. Publishers Association president Stephen Page said the discussions had reached the point where it was sensible “for individual businesses to be making their own progress”. He said it had been “a very useful conversation . . . for authors and agents to put their views has only been useful. It now becomes a more straightforward commercial issue, but the dialogue is still open.”