Tuesday, October 23, 2007


We have always taken the view that the publishers who use Exact Editions to provide access to the magazines on our platform, own the subscription lists that accrue through the process of selling subs. As far as we are concerned they also own the aggregate usage date which we carefully collect and supply for them through a stats account. In our production process we enhance the PDFs which are our source documents, and so far as ownership goes they also own these improved PDFs. [The PDFs are only enhanced by us so that we can build a better database, we do not of course use the PDFs in a delivery mode].

These are valuable assets, and I sometimes wonder whether our policy in not claiming any ownership over these intangibles is altogether prudent. Its possible, that if our company was part-owned by a VC we would have been required to take a more aggressive view of our own contribution. Would there be a case for asserting part ownership? Maybe, but on the whole, and with the benefit of reflection, emphatically NO.

Our position is right on this. Quixotic perhaps, naive I concede, but right and strong. Exact Editions does have some important intellectual assets, but claiming any proprietary stake in the copyrights of the publications or the subscriber lists which attach to publications sold on susbcription, is not one of them. Our position is stronger precisely because our process enhances the value of what the publishers are doing, and that is the way we intend to keep things.

Call this a hostage to fortune if you will. But we think of it as a basis for collaboration.

1 comment:

Alain Pierrot said...

Let me applaud to this sound and honest stance.

Quite a few years ago, some French typesetters and printers tried and argue that the added value (— more about that hereunder —) they bring to the documents or files they get from publishers entitled them to claim intellectual rights on the books they helped publish.

Publishers managed to have these companies understand very quickly where their best interest lay... This is no longer a topic for any negociation.

Quite a few lessons should be considered there:

First, typesetting, printing (or preparing an electronic book version) really adds intellectual value to (even well prepared) «manuscripts», and this value is generally underestimated — if acknowledged at all — and underpaid by publishers, which is not fair.

Second, this kind of added value is not intellectual property and is certainly not worth complicating even more the management of proportional rights on sales.

Third, publishers, too often at a loss when they deal with digital technologies, should be more wary of sharing revenues with computer software or harware companies, when these mix intellectual added value, technology and distribution issues in there licences, as happens in the video game industry.