Mediabistro has an interesting article on the copyright problem posed by photos when it comes to moving books from print to electrons. Just because a publisher might have the license to use a photo in print does not necessarily mean he can also use it digitally, because the rights are separate and distinct. If the publisher didn’t have the foresight to include digital uses in the contract, he will have to go back and renegotiate.

And even if you have the rights to use the photo in an e-book, you may still not have the right to use it in an enhanced e-book.

“Dealing with images opens up a can of worms,” said [Christopher] Kenneally [Director of Business Development at Copyright Clearance]. “I may be able to reshoot all of the images for a travel guide if I want to put out an eBook edition, because the sites are very common and everyone has taken a photo of them. But if I wanted to try to reshoot a special photographer’s style, then I might be infringing.”

As with e-book rights themselves, publishers are probably going to make sure they write electronic uses into contracts for all aspects of print book publishing going forward, but it will make producing e-books of backlist reference books more complicated.


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